Saturday, March 31, 2012

Awaken Dear Philippines

Sometimes I see hints that the Philippines is changing, that Filipinos are beginning to grasp the idea that they need not be so very subservient to authority figures who, to this point, do not have much to brag about in terms of Philippine competitiveness and reputation in the global community.

This past week a Bloomberg Report summarized the state of the HR Bill and noted that 34 percent of Filipinas between the ages of 15 and 49 now use some form of birth control device (United Nations report). This is the same level as in Iraq and Myanmar. I would have expected the percentage to be much lower. But perhaps the attitude of one woman gives hope that there is a women's awakening. A Catholic mother of 14 children, diagnosed by doctors at "at risk" if she had more kids, was lined up to get free birth control services. You see that, and you see legislators - Philippine authority figures - just sitting on the HR Bill. They are stuck in the past and it will take more pushing to uproot them. Like a thoughtful vote next election that considers how progressive the candidates really are. Those who sound a lot like preachers and priests should be the first ones ejected.

Wake Up Call
That is EJECTED, not elected.

Also this past week, it was reported that a Catholic high school in Cebu tried to ban five girls from graduation ceremonies for posing on Facebook in bikinis; one had a beer bottle and cigarette in hand. The parents of one of the girls would not accept that and took it to court. The court ruled that the school had to let the girls attend graduation. The girls' parents will also take step two, sue the school because of the harsh language the administration used in condemning the girls. Let's hear it for "litigious" as a way to seek a better sense of right and wrong in the Philippines!

This morning, I read that six boys have also been banned from graduation by their Catholic high school because their Facebook pages had photos of them kissing one another. Hey guys! Not exactly my thing, but way to go! Push the old fogies and prudish maids off their conventional asses. I hope one of you has a litigious parent.

In yet another incident, students at several universities shot back at Senator Santiago after she ranted that surveys regarding Chief Corona's trust standing are a "contemptuous act.” The university students survey their own student populations periodically. They effectively told the esteemed Senator to "put a sock in it".  Intelligent, issues-focused, rabble-rousing students is EXACTLY what the Philippines needs.

These events are fascinating hints that the Philippines is entering a period of changing values and soft rebellion.

I've argued that the Philippines is not a well-read society and Filipinos remain trapped in an archaic dominant/submissive pattern of behavior that allows corruption and bullyism to flourish.

But modern media, specifically the cell phone and internet social networking, are changing the ground rules. Now previously submissive INDIVIDUALS can find strength in GROUPS. And do it quickly.

The notion that government is "Big Brother" has been turned upside down by modern media in the hands of citizens. That is the foundation for the Arab Spring uprisings. And perhaps Filipinos are now ready to turn the spotlight onto the fallibility of previously sacrosanct powers. In the above examples that would be the Catholic Church, school administrators, and a Senator. All are being publicly slapped down.

You know, I fully expect the Senate to acquit Chief Justice Corona. It is a political game they are playing, the outcome of favors owed and created, and SYSTEMS of favor being protected. But Senators do this at their own peril in a day when opposing candidates will soon pull out the record of an opponent and lay it out on twitter or Facebook.

  • "This incumbent Senator voted for acquittal of Chief Justice Corona. Do you trust him/her to work forthrightly on your behalf?"

Given that 75 to 80 percent of the population does not trust Mr. Corona, that is a powerful message.

Perhaps the old power structures will begin to crumble . . .

I hope and pray.

Well, more correctly, I hope.

Change shouldn't require God's help.

Filipino initiative can do quite nicely on its own.


  1. Yet the 75 to 80 percent of the population you mention will continue to elect the same goons to office.

    1. That seems to be the case, for sure. I keep thinking it will break, but "fame" is too important a qualification for too many Filipinos. I can't comprehend an intellectually undistinguished boxer loaded with honorary degrees and pride-based military promotions as the guy who will lead the Philippines to distinction.

  2. The boxer may be the most honest lawmaker. He made his own money without any help. He doesn't have to worry about being exposed and he doesn't have to cover his tracks. He can afford to be honest. He doesn't have to worry about black mail or character assassination. He will be fine no matter how anyone try to discredit him. I hope he will do his best even if he is not an expert (yet). He may be smart enough to surround himself with the right advisers. Joe check out his track record as a lawmaker.

    1. Yes, he is a clean slate in a way. But I know his attendance is poor. He is against the HR Bill. I would agree with you if he retired from boxing and spent perhaps 10 years establishing that he is a mature, knowledgeable civic servant. And if he brought Coach Roach in as his chief of staff.

  3. manuelbuencaminoApril 2, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    To a certain degree, media is responsible for the prevalence of ignorance. Blame it on their own ignorance, their corruption, and their predilection for easy sales. Thank God for the internet. Mainstream media is being forced to do some honest work because instant feedback on their sites is showing them that there are a lot of people who hunger for more than the usual pablum and the hunger is contagious. Someday, soon I hope, media will be forced to serve steak.

  4. manuelbuencaminoApril 2, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    As to those students...the thing is they enrolled in private schools with rules. If they broke a specific rule then they suffer the consequences.

    However if there are no clear and specific rules and the punishment was based on the subjective appraisal of behavior by school authorities suffering from anal retentive maladies then the disciplinary action against the students is both unfair and uncalled for.

    I'm a product of private schools. And they are in a class of their own as far as writing rules are concerned because no one is forced to enroll in a private school, specially one run by a religious organization.

    The solution therefore is to ask for a clear set of rules and not to prescribe prune juice by the gallon. Or to make a sizable donation to the school and ask for the principal's head in a platter in exchange.

    1. That makes sense. Rules are indeed important, and the discipline to enforce them. My main drift was that it will be good when common Filipinos stand forthrightly firm in the face of abusive authority. The US may be overly litigious; the Philippines does not have enough litigation. Partly because the courts are closed.