What is the Philippines real problem?

After decisively winning the EDSA revolution, the oligarchy went back to consolidating not only their political power but their economic ones as well. Even though many candidates perform poorly, name recall and money patronage still win over performance. Hence leading to the condemnation of Philippine brand of cacique democracy. Hell, we even keep voting for personalities that are inimical to our interest.

The frustrations of the Post-EDSA world is blamed on the “excess” of democracy and freedom. A Singaporean diplomat ruing too much suffrage echoing this line last month. But despite the problems of an irresponsible electorate beholden to bread and circuses, this is not the main root of our country’s deficiency.

In all fairness, the incapability of the people to see beyond day to day living is one of the fundamental factors why we cannot go beyond transactional politics in our bourgeois democratic framework. Ultimately this political class relation limits our capacity to rise collectively as a nation.  But this is more than just a problem of good governance. The problem is undoing  300 years of colonial repression.

Something most people can’t understand is that our country needs more than superior political forms, foreign investment or federalism. In the centuries following Spain’s conquest of the islands we transformed into a baseless and honor-less society who work for nothing but their imperialist masters (incidentally our reputed indolence as well). Where complaints-cum-rebellions are crushed mercilessly in the boot of military might and massacres. And with it apathy and an anaesthesized society who wishing nothing but escape in the bottle.

This is a system exhorting the virtue of life after death – a decidedly Catholic doctrine. A culture bowing down to powers due to the fear of reprisals and greater loss; a value system penalizing interference in just causes. Our dysfunctional values reducing the Filipino into mere slaves and peon.  Transforming ourselves into tools  exploited for the benefit of the nabob and sarkars of Castille, Lady Liberty and the Rising Sun. The only problem now is we are colony of our own elite – who are running unimpeded under a culture of impunity.

Any analysis without a historical understanding of our country’s historical problem is bound to crash. Hence the need for this post.

“The difference lies in the culture of the Filipino people. It is a soft, forgiving culture. Only in the Philippines could a leader like Ferdinand Marcos, who pillaged his country for over twenty years, still be considered for a national burial. Insignificant amounts of the loot have been recovered, yet his wife and children were allowed to return and engage in politics. They supported the winning presidential and congressional candidates with their considerable resources and reappeared in the political and social limelight after the 1998 election that returned President Joseph Estrada.”

– Lee Kwan Yew on the Philippines


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