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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

entry arrow8:00 PM | Where Did We Go Wrong ?

By Carmen Guerrero Nakpil

That is the question that torments Filipinos these days of national malaise. How did we come to this sorry pass?

In 1946, independent at last of America, there were 18 millions of us, recovering from a terrible war and enemy occupation, but full of courage, vigor, determination and optimism, we had a new democratic state with a president, parliament and judiciary and a list of new industries, the envy of Asia.

Today, after 59 years of self-rule, 83 millions are on the brink of despair, pushed there by poverty, corruption, scandal; demoralized, unable to feed ourselves -- or to conduct honest elections, to punish malfeasance, defeat armed dissent, most of us starving and under-educated, many of us refugees and nomads.

From the pile of Sunday newspapers littering my room, I got a bundle of statistics (Jaime N. Soriano, Sunday Times) that gave some answers. Soriano reduced available demographics to a clear profile of the characteristics of 100 Filipinos. And from those stark figures alone, anyone could deduce that we have been badly governed and tragically organized.

The huge jump in population alone, from 18 to 83 millions indicates the sad management of the population issue. Of 100 Filipinos, 61 must support 39, who are either children below 15 or old-age pensioners. But of that labor force of 61, 7 are unemployed, 38 employed locally, 3 in college, 13 working abroad, 12 being unskilled laborers or subsistence farmers and fishermen. Only 5 are managers and only two professionals. Those figures show the failure of the educational system and the uneven distribution of resources.

And yet we have been on our own (despite American benevolence) and for more than half a century, have been making our own laws, plans, policies.

Only 52 of those 100 Filipinos are registered voters, 31 in Luzon, 10 in the Visayas and 11 in Mindanao. But of the registered voters, only 39 cast their votes in 2004. The contested result of that election is what's putting us on the verge of a military coup, an insurrection, presidential resignation or impeachment, doldrums or chaos.

Our use of the free, honest, secret ballot seems to have been unfortunate. Almost all our presidents took the wrong turns. Roxas pushed US military bases and economic exploitation; Magsaysay gave the US State Department and the Pentagon the run of the place. Macapagal dismantled the exchange and import controls that had led to new industries. Marcos damaged our institutions. Aquino foiled land reform. Ramos and Arroyo gave us unprotected globalization, which destroyed industries and jobs. Erap embarrassed us with his lounge-lizard lifestyle.

With some brilliant exceptions, Congress became a carousel of larceny, opportunism and myopia.

The judiciary is weak and suspect. Yet, as a democracy, we chose our own leaders. Did we choose those who were and are most like us?

In his column, Soriano suggests that at least part of the blame for the situation must be laid at the door of the Christian churches. There are 83 Catholics and 9 Christians out of every 100 Filipinos.

For the last five centuries their faith has been Christianity which condemns all the forms of corruption we have been practicing: cheating, deception, sloth, gluttony, pride, and lust.

The crimes the governments have been accused of go directly against the Ten Commandments of Christianity.

How have we sunk so low in morality, after half a millennium of Christ's teachings? What have all those priests and clerics been doing all this time? Perhaps the reason is that we Filipinos do not do what our betters say, but what they do.

Being mimetic, we, we learn best by following good examples. Maybe those loquacious bishops and well-cossetted parish priests should preach by example?

For whatever reason, all those tragic figures of stupidity and unpatriotic behavior are things we have done to ourselves.

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