Author's Note: You may have read some of this before. What I'd ask that you keep in mind is how straightforward it can be to do what is good for the Philippines if the goal is simple yet profound.
Philippine society has a split personality, one wholesome, fun-loving and family oriented, the other a pyramid of dysfunctions built on a base of personal insecurity and greed.
The good one is most of the people on most days.
The bad one SEEMS to be most of the government on most days. I know there are a lot of good people doing a lot of good work in government, but the ineffective seems to bubble to the top where we can see them.
Quick digression. Kudos to the Aquino government for holding 31 DENR officials to account for the killer flash floods that ripped through Cagayan de Oro last year. The 31 lost their jobs and some are likely to be prosecuted. It is good that the President got angry that his Executive Order on illegal logging was ignored. A law without enforcement is not a law.
For the good Philippines, the main currency is the peso, and there are far too few to go around. For the bad one, the main currency is power which lubricates the trade of favors from which so many pesos derive.
Let's deal mainly with the bad one since our aspiration is to emulate the sensationalist Philippine media. Joltin' Joe Muckraker at his best, offering up unproved deductions in the guise of knowledge.
The horribly broken down Philippine institutions are: the courts and the legal structure that feeds them, the education system, the framework for taxation, Manila's infrastructure, local zoning departments, justice and NBI, Customs, and DENR. The health system exists (hospitals exist), but nobody can afford care, so the infrastructure is dilapidated and weak, especially in the provinces.
Tourism and business work pretty well. They are getting better, deeper, more competitive. Agribusiness does its thing, a tad under-mechanized, but not wholly broken down. The military is stable and improving. The police do what they do, sometimes half-assed, sometimes well. Utilities need a lot of work but they aren't the cause of the State's dilapidated state. Transportation is a hodgepodge but generally moves better than Los Angeles Freeways, and a lot more cheaply; the variety fits the economy where only a few people own cars.
Moral values are frozen leftovers imported by the Catholic Church from centuries ago when the earth was huge and the population was but a fraction of what it is today. Now the seas are rising, the storms are raging and the resources are shrinking. Babies and kids swarm everywhere; where are their jobs? Overseas?
This is the last nation on the planet with no divorce outlet for a failed marriage. Scroll the title . . ."Of women's bondage . . ."
It seems like the nation simply cannot get unstuck from its massive absurdities.
- Manila is 10 separate cities, each with its own agenda. You can drive from Makati to Kaloocan and see the patchwork of good and bad, mostly bad, and rich and poor, mostly poor. This is Europe on a minor scale, each civic entity arguing for its own right to run things, thus consigning the whole to divisive spats and herky-jerky progress. No one can muster the consensus to change this, to make Manila once again the pride of Asia. It rots, sewers plugged, traffic jammed, broken pavement and buildings everywhere, and those slums, the worst of the worst, here and there. It is the pit of Asia, no longer the pearl, and no one has a master plan. That's absurd.
- The Catholic Doctrine is driving the nation to out-of-control over-birthing and poverty-stricken ruination but accepts no responsibility for this. The Church evidently cannot multiply 8 (sets of parents) times 8 (kids) and come up with 64 young, hungry mouths with nowhere to go and little to eat. They see birthing as addition, 2 + 1 = 3. Nothing scary about that, eh? Women are considered subordinate to men. And the nation's leaders continue to bow before priests. That's absurd.
- Education should teach creativity and achievement, but the Department of Education can't DO creativity and achievement. They do autocratic, and they do whining for budget. That's absurd.
- Never has so much intelligence gone to waste as in the Judiciary and the inept lawyering that is the legal foundation of the Philippines. Inefficient, illogical, political. Wasting effort on annulment hearings whilst murderers go free. No sense that speed is important for justice to be just. It is the biggest mess in the world. They are paper-pushers, that's all. "Stalling for cash". It oughta be a TV game show hosted by Kris Aquino. Lawyers pass the bar and then seem to go zero on us, demonstrating no passion for RIGHT over WRONG. That's absurd.
- No one sees that the difference between American productivity and Philippine ineptitude has to do with motivating individual workers to perform, to grow, to gain rewards of wallet and esteem, to climb careers built on opportunity. The U.S. is a firestorm of well motivated, hard driving workers. Here? Hire Uncle Manualo for that plum supervisory job and watch him flop about. Appoint the wife there and watch her arrive late and leave early. Bring Junior up the ladder and watch him party with the stars. Ignore the lower class workers. Never mind that all this squashes the ambition and opportunity for Jose Genius and chases his brain and talent overseas. It isn't a brain DRAIN, actually. It is a CATTLE DRIVE, a stampede, a social system that assures talent must go elsewhere to succeed. That's absurd.
Kafka would love it.
He wouldn't have to write books about absurdity, like "The Castle". He'd just invite people to the Philippines.
And the root of the power pushing is self interest, too often founded on insecurity. That is not a healthy mix. It assures lots of angry power struggles. It seems like there are win/lose tussles at every turn. Enemies at every corner. Saving face. Punishing those who offend face. Biting and bitter, the mood of most moments.
Few people seem to have the tools to generate harmony under pressure; to debate; to problem solve. They tear others down.
Harmony is built on trust. It requires that people accept responsibility for the good and the bad that flow from their decisions, not dump on innocents. It requires the graciousness to concede arguments and authority to others who may do things just a little differently.
People are trying so hard to be winners here that they trample on others. And we all lose
Maybe the solution is to help people understand that winning is not the goal. Because you are only defeating other Filipinos, thereby defeating the Philippines. Building is what is important.
I hope the huge mass of good Filipinos can master the techniques of power pushing, maybe under the direction of social-media opinion leaders, to claim back the nation that is rightfully theirs. I do hope so.
The good people could do this . . . take RESPONSIBILITY for doing this . . . by voting well in 2013 and 2016. Toss out the old, ineffectual barriers to progressive thinking. Bring in new, fresh thinking that is not automatic for re-election. Make 'em EARN re-election!
Here's to the rise of the responsible Filipino! The good Filipino!