Sunday, May 23, 2010

An open letter to Noynoy from F Sionil Jose

Dear Noynoy,

You are now swamped with suggestions and advice, but just the same, I hope you’ll have time to read what this octogenarian has to say.

You were not my choice in the last election but since our people have spoken, we must now support you and pray that you prevail. But first, I must remind you of the stern reality that your drumbeaters ignore: you have no noble legacy from your forbears. It is now your arduous job to create one yourself in the six years that you will be the single most powerful Filipino. Six years is too short a time — the experience in our part of the world is that it takes at least one generation — 25 years — for a sick nation to recover and prosper. But you can begin that happy process of healing.

Bear in mind that the past weighs heavily on all of us because of the many contradictions in it that we have not resolved, whose resolutions would strengthen us as a nation. This past is now your burden, too. Let us start with the fact that your grandfather collaborated with the Japanese. Your father was deeply aware of this, its stigma, its possibilities. He did not leave any legacy because he did not become president. He was a brilliant and courageous politician. He was an enterprising journalist; he had friends in journalism who can attest to his effulgent vision, who did not profit from his friendship, among them Nestor Mata, Gregorio Brillantes — you may consult them. I cannot say I did not profit — he bought many books from my shop and when he was in Marcos’s prison, your mother brought books from my shop to him.

Forgive me for giving you this unsolicited advice. First, beware of hubris; you are surrounded by panderers who will tell you what is nice to hear. You need to be humble always and heed your conscience. When Caesar was paraded in ancient Rome before the cheering multitudes, there was always a man chanting behind him: “Remember, you are mortal.”

I say to you, remember, the poor — some of them in your own hacienda — will be your ultimate judge.

From your comfortable and privileged cocoon, you know so little of our country and people. Seek the help of the best — and the best do not normally want to work in government and neither will they approach you. You have to seek them.

Be the revolutionary your father wanted to be and don’t be scared or wary of the word “revolution.” It need not be always bloody. EDSA I was not. Your father wanted to destroy the most formidable obstacle to our progress — the Oligarchy to which you and your family belong. To succeed, you have to betray your class. If you cannot smash the oligarchy, at least strive to have their wealth develop this country, that they bring back the billions they stashed abroad. You cannot do this in six years, but you can begin.

Prosecute the crooks. It is difficult, thankless and even dangerous to do this. Your mother did not do it — she did not jail Imelda who was the partner in that conjugal dictatorship that plundered this nation. Watch her children — they were much too young to have participated in that looting but they are heirs to the billions which their parents stashed abroad. Now the Marcoses are on the high road to power, gloating, snickering at our credulity and despicable amnesia.

You know the biggest crooks in and out of government, those powerful smugglers, thieves, tax cheats — all you really need is guts to clobber them. Your father had lots of it — I hope he passed on to you most of it.
And most of all, now that you have the muscle to do it, go after your father’s killers. Blood and duty compel you to do so. Cory was only his wife — you are the anointed and only son. Your regime will be measured by how you resolve this most blatant crime that robbed us of a true leader.

And, finally, your mother. We loved her — she united us in ousting an abominable dictator. But she, too, did not leave a shining legacy for her presidency was a disaster. She announced a revolutionary government but did nothing revolutionary. She promised land reform but did not do it. And most grievous of all — she transformed the EDSA I revolution into a restoration of the oligarchy.

She became president only because her husband was murdered and you became president elect only because your mother died. Still, you are your father’s son and may you now — for the good of this country and people — scale the heights he and your mother never reached.

I am 85 and how I despair over how three generations of our leaders failed! Before I go, please let me see this unhappy country begin to be a much better place than the garbage dump our leaders and people have made it. You can be this long awaited messiah but only if you are brave enough and wise enough to redeem your father’s aborted promise.

Hopefully yours,

F. Sionil Jose 

Why We Are The Way We Are Part 2

What was the Filipino like before the Spaniards came? How did all the influences through the centuries affect the character of the present day Filipino?  

It has already been established that before we became known as the Philippines, our archipelago was first inhabited by the Negritos and soon after came the arrival of the Austronesian people who brought with them influences from the Malay, Hindu and Islamic cultures. The native culture of Austronesia is diverse, varying from region to region, although from what is known, they were basically seafarers. This diversity can be seen up to the present time as evidenced by the over 150 languages scattered throughout more than 7000 islands. Simply put, the Filipino culture is complex and confusing...a modern day Tower of Babel.

From our written history we are told that in spite of the Spanish, American, Chinese, Indian and Arab influences, the native Filipino has retained a distinct culture, positive traits like strong religious faith, respect for authority, high regard for amor proprio (self-esteem) and desire for smooth interpersonal relationships. These traits however made the Filipinos vulnerable to conquest and dominance.  Why?  Because when taken to extremes, these traits can result to fatalism, authoritarianism, clannishness and a willingness to sacrifice personal integrity making the Filipino an easy target for exploitation by the more sophisticated foreign colonizers: first, Spain and later, the United States of America.  Spanish and American culture blended with our native customs creating a way of like that implies an identity crisis of sorts... Doña Victorina is as common today as yesterday.  So is the way we are today the fault of our foreign colonizers? Of course not...they saw our weakness and exploited it like any good colonizer.  We were ignorant, naive, trusting...and these worked against us in the 16th century.   The tragedy of the Filipino people lies not in the fact that we were colonized but the fact that we have not learned anything from our past...we are still ignorant, naive, is like time stood still for us.  The Marcos dictatorship, our politicians, the media, the communists, and who else is there, are our modern day colonizers...

Today is Pentecost Sunday...we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit, the birth of the Catholic Church.  As Asia's only Catholic country, the Philippines will do well to heed the voice of the Spirit.  The priest in the evening mass I attended stated that the cultural and language diversity of our country makes it hard for us to attain unity unless we practice using the universal language. And what is that language?  It is the language of for country and love for others...because with love all things are possible.

Why We Are The Way We Are Part 1

There are so many websites that write about Filipino culture and most of these say the same things...about the country's diversity in terms of culture and language, the Filipino's penchant for personal alliances, the similarities with the Malay and Indonesian culture, the influence of the Spanish and American colonizers, not to mention the Chinese, Indians etc.  Our hospitable nature and easy acceptance of other cultures have created a way of life that blends foreign with native customs. And so, it is no wonder that we are the way we are today.

What are we today?  This thoughtful piece I found in Anti-Pinoy by Chino explains maybe 60% of the problem.  He says that "we have a libre me this, libre me that culture, that it is a culture of dependence on or desire for dole-outs. He also believes that Filipinos, most of them for that matter, are lazy. And laziness can be found in all classes, from the richest to the poorest."

There is a lot of truth in that statement. But why? And how do we solve it? And what is the other 40%?

Friday, May 14, 2010

As The Dust Settles...

So now we have a new president...yep, it's Noynoy.  As for the's too close to call as of today.  The billboards in the plaza have been taken down, street-cleaners are seen taking down the is slowly getting back to normal.  I went to the mall today, and it's eerie because it seems that after May 10...people stopped talking about the election.  It's as if...okay, now that is done...lets go back to doing what we were doing before the election. Hmmmm...abangan!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Elections 2010

May 10, 2010, Monday is Election Day.  This year's campaign is probably one of the most confusing, most contentious, most polarized ever in recent history.  For one there are just too many political parties; second, there has been too many shifts among politicians...the right mingling with the left...making for strange bedfellows; and third, there is no unity among families as to which candidate to support.  After the dust settles, we will be left with a winner...I hope whoever it is, he will advocate the change the people of this country need to make for this Philippines to take back its place as one of Asia's rising stars.  May God have mercy on us all.