I must confess, dear readers, that this relentless study of Philippine ways and means from the vantage point of Western norms is becoming surreal. Jojo and I spend way too many meals discussing the cultural nuances of plunder. But I can't get enough of it. Y'all do it different, and you do it fine in my book. Well, except for the part I'm going to tell you about today.
We girls are sensory. We like to touch things, like fabrics, and sniff things, like perfumes, and see things like hunka hunka naked Filipino laborers all sweaty and muscled and . . .
We girls are sensory.
Have you ever been snorkeling or scuba diving where you were totally immersed in the underwater world? The water becomes your new surroundings, rather than air. And the creatures are fish instead of birds. The light may be shaded grey by the reflections of the deep, or bright white as sunshine refracts from above. The temperature is mellow and the fluidity of your motions is like a slow dance, a slow motion waltz.
That's what it is like to swim in Philippine culture, where my readings and study of people and events and the dialogue on this blog have uncovered extraordinary treasures, rather like those found in a coral reef, discoveries never expected or imagined. Some beautiful, some hideous, many just interesting, and occasionally something dangerous. Like those black and white striped killer sea snakes that slither across the sandy bottom like Get Real's benigno doing another "get Aquino" blog.
What has happened, I think, is that I have learned to swim in this ocean of Philippine culture better than most, better than my neighbors, for sure. I can almost keep up with Jojo, and he is among the most advanced seers of the Philippine condition on the planet. I'd wager I've become more of an expert on things than even the top leaders of the land.
- What does Sotto know about Philippine culture, anyway, to live it so grandly, this excuse-making and failure to accept responsibility, this mandate that face be more important than public well-being and winning more important than doing the right thing.
- What does Enrile know about Philippine culture, to so perfectly fit the character of the uncaring elite waving millions of pesos of personal power in the faces of the poor, and re-writing history to suit his incredibly inflated and vengeful ego.
- What does Binay know about Philippine culture to introduce his daughter, coddled as his personal assistant, to be custodian of Philippine laws, to make or break the Constitution and make or break the people who depend on the government for their health and opportunity. This is a man who would ignore the Constitutional imperative against dynasties to pursue dynasty and excuse the transgression because no laws have been codified to declare what he is doing as dangerous to the State. He would ignore the principle of the law, the value of right over wrong, on a technicality, for benefit of self.
Nothing shouts Philippine culture louder than these three artifacts in action.
Unfortunately, it is the dysfunctional part of things, not the wholesome, rich side of things.
There is nothing glorious about their representation of Philippine culture. My advice to you loyal and right thinking Filipinos is to keep the fiestas, keep the wicked driving, the superstitions that overlay religion. Keep the OFWs and the tight-knit families strewn across the planet. Keep the karaoke and the air force with no jets and the rule to leave only a few coins for tips.
But kindly recognize those aspects of Philippine culture you need to pass back into history as quaint recollections. Recognize those wolves in sheepskin because they punish the Philippines every time they rear up. They are unfair. They damage the innocent. They stand on the backs of the poor to reach for greater wealth. They don't have the graciousness to give thanks because they believe they are ENTITLED to all that they can grab.
No no, these leaders continue the tried and true cultural imperative of top dawg politicians to butter their own interests and ignore the well-being of the Philippines.
You worry about US colonialism? About Spanish colonialism? About Chinese invasion of Philippine territory?
I hate to let you in on a secret. You are occupied now. And you've been occupied for centuries. You are occupied by people who are smart enough to know what is in the best interest of the Philippines and relentlessly insist on doing something else. You want to know why the Philippines is 50 years behind the rest of the modern world?
Look at the pillars of the UNA party, put together as a reflection of the values of their leader.
Imperious righteousness. Overbearing, down the nose sneering at the lessers who surround them. Private benefit over public well-being.
What opportunity, really, do these leaders give to the poor, the unhealthy, the able but unemployed?
MORE OF THE SAME.
Look, here's the deal.
You can't remain the same and change.
You have to let go of something.
If you swim in the waters of Philippine culture, you have to be able to discern a shark from a tuna, a sea snake from a sea urchin, a sunken mine from a treasure chest.
You have to see clearly.
Out with that part of culture that is dysfunctional. In with the fresh, the fair, the honorable.
I think you know how to vote, eh? Vote the values, not the name.