Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mar Roxas’s Wack Wack suspension: another giant leap to a modern Philippines!

April 24, 2014
by benign0
Another giant leap for the lot of ordinary Filipinos who have long suffered under the culture of impunity perpetrated by their elected “leaders”! In a resolution issued by the Board of Wack Wack Golf and Country Club, the Philippines’ Secretary of Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas was reportedly suspended as member of the swanky club.

A club member, who asked not to be identified, said the board met Monday night and voted to suspend Roxas for two months after an investigation of the April 6 incident when Roxas purportedly screamed at club employees who insisted that he pay the green fee of a guest.
“Five [directors] voted to suspend him for two months while only one voted to simply reprimand him. Three [other directors] abstained from the vote while one was absent from the meeting,” the member said.
Roxas had earlier apologised for the incident. However, he also denied allegations that he viciously berated and cussed at club employees. Roxas reportedly said that the “unfortunate” incident will form “part of [his] reflection for this Lenten season”.
Fortunately for Mar, he does not have only the Church to turn to in this sudden time of need for absolution. Members of Philippine Congress had this week chimed in to lend their support for the embattled sidekick of President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III.
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone bizarrely used the now infamous incident in Tacloban where Roxas raised the issue of partisan politics in a meeting with Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez to buttress testimonials in favour of Roxas’s character….
“He always keeps his cool and equanimity. That was very evident in his now famous meeting with the mayor of Tacloban City shortly after Super Typhoon Yolanda struck. The video footage that was apparently secretly taken shows that he did raise his voice,” he said.
Errrmmm, yes, he did not raise his voice, further highlighting the revealing banality of the way he weaved politics into a crisis meeting that, at the time, could determine the fate of hundreds of thousands of lives of typhoon victims. Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr, for his part, pointed out that “Mar remains a most humble, down-to-earth person in the P-Noy Cabinet.”
All consistent of course, considering that these are all products of the popular vote — a direct reflection of the national character that they’d so quickly defend the actions of an erring crony. Whether rich or poor, Filipinos, after all, are renowned for their misplaced arrogance — often taking every opportunity to one-up the other in a hilarious race to some sort of social golden fleece.

Coincidentally, Mar Roxas is billed “Mister Palengke” in his own personal website. A fitting title for a politician with a growing track record of palengkera behaviour.


benign0 is the Webmaster of

Constitutional Reform: What it Looks Like from the Outside

April 24, 2014
by BenK
The idea of ‘charter change’ is nothing new to outsiders, but being able to observe and discuss the movement as a serious idea rather than cynically dismissing it as the same old limited-focus canard that gets floated every year is a refreshing change of pace.
So what’s different about ‘charter change’ now, as opposed to every other time since the FVR era that the idea has been mentioned? Primarily, it’s the timing: not counting the Arroyo initiative at the beginning of the legislative session – something that was anticipated from the moment she announced her intention to run for Congress – the movement has gotten off the ground much sooner than anyone would have guessed. This is largely seen as an indictment of Aquino, and although opinion is still somewhat divided, the balance of the assessment tilts towards it being an appropriate indictment of his administration. From the external perspective, he was elected in a reasonably (for this country, anyway) non-controversial way, with relatively strong support on the back of a generally favorably-regarded pedigree and the promise – though an unspecific one – of cleaner government. In the intervening six months, he has accomplished nothing substantial, has not delineated any specific objectives, and his government appears as polluted by corruption and incompetence as any the Philippines has ever had. With calls for ‘charter change’ coming from a number of directions, the impression is that a significant proportion of the country – perhaps equal to the proportion that originally supported Aquino – is at this early date already fed up with the direction of things under his stewardship. The wide-ranging “mainstream” discussion of ‘charter change’ beyond the traditional sphere of the ineffectual opposition, Aquino’s own stubborn and logically-flawed resistance to even considering the idea, and the demagogical dissent aired by the Establishment-backed leftist rebellion and their self-appointed mouthpieces tend to reinforce this impression – the conventional regime is on the back foot, quickly losing popular support, and as a result, is being viewed with a degree of apprehension that would have seemed unjustified from the international perspective half a year ago.

Another factor that encourages more serious attention from the international community to ‘charter change’ this time is the context in which it is being presented by its advocates: rebranding, as it were, ‘charter change’ as ‘constitutional reform’, a concept which is not only a more accurate characterization of the effort, but which signals a more open mindset willing to examine changes in a more comprehensive and less prescriptive way. Previous ‘charter change’ efforts tended to focus on specific concerns, for example term limits under FVR and a shift to a parliamentary system under GMA, and as a consequence the term ‘charter change’ has become associated, correctly or not, solely with the idea of altering the system of national leadership, and has developed a negative connotation both inside and outside the country. ‘Constitutional reform’ signals a more sober approach and one that indicates a potentially less unstable transition when the transition finally happens; from either of the two important foreign perspectives, the political and the economic, anything that reduces the instability risk is appreciated.
The Road Ahead: What the International Community is Looking For
The energetic movement towards constitutional reform is a positive first step, but it is only the first; whether the momentum can be sustained and the actual work of comprehensive reform begun will be the next milepost to pass. Assuming that is accomplished, the outside observers with political and economic interests in the Philippines will be looking for three primary objectives to be met:
1. Serious action against corruption. Although some Filipino constitutional reform advocates bridle at placing “corruption” at the top of the list of problems that need to be solved, from the global point of view that is exactly what the Philippines needs to do. That is part of why Aquino initially gained favor with outside observers – his own personal record and acknowledgement of the issue hinted at potential progress. His performance, however, has not impressed; he is now either regarded as not having an understanding of – and as a result, no ability to develop a strategy for – the complex interrelation of systemic, economic, and social factors that cause corruption, or among his harsher critics, regarded as being a garden-variety Philippine trapo.
The “grand formula” for constitutional reform – economic liberalization, Federalization, and a Parliamentary system – is generally regarded as being one decent framework for approaching the problem of corruption, because it addresses, one way or another, many of the underlying causes of corruption except for the social ones. In that respect, there is cause for concern; Philippine society is considered undisciplined, and unless that is directly addressed – an area in which Lee Kuan Yew’s experience in transforming Singapore can serve as a useful guide – there is an apprehension that political and economic solutions will be significantly compromised.
2. A legislative agenda to back reforms. This primarily applies to economic liberalization, the current problems of which do not entirely lie in the country’s flawed Constitution. Loosening protectionist restrictions in the Constitution is only one part of the solution; that will only provide opportunity for economic development and foreign investment, but not the competitive advantages that will attract investment and make development happen. Improving the business environment will require the same comprehensive focus on the systemic, economic, and social conditions in the country, and will be a long-term effort. The favorable optimism with which the rest of the world will look at constitutional reform will quickly evaporate if the necessary follow-through is not apparent.
3. Development of legitimate political parties. Regardless of what final shape the system of government takes, strong political parties that, ideally, represent a clear majority and relevant opposition at any given time are the political “system that transcends the system” and confer a strong measure of political stability on the country, even if (as is currently predicted) the Philippines endures a period of “growing pains” that may see a number of different governments in a relatively short period of time, particularly under a Parliamentary system. A Parliamentary system or even a much more formalized Presidential system will help to develop stable parties, provided that any system chosen is built in such a way as to prevent as much as possible the electoral opportunism that characterizes Philippine parties now.
And finally, it is worth mentioning that the point of view towards what they suppose are Western intentions towards the Philippines from otherwise well-meaning reform advocates is for the most part erroneous and more importantly, an unnecessary diversion of intellectual effort that needlessly confuses the issues. It is no secret that the US and its sphere of influence – and presumably, the Chinese sphere as well – sincerely desires constitutional reform in the Philippines and has a number of ideas of what would likely work best for the country and the corresponding international interests. From the Western perspective, at least, there is a simple reality that the Filipino people should consider: the ability of this country to affect what the US bloc does or thinks is pretty close to zero at this point. The US will, as it always has, react as the opportunity presents itself to whatever the circumstances on the ground in the Philippines are at any given time; for the Philippines to insist on a fair input into how that relationship is managed, it must do so from a position of its own strengths and value to the outside world. The best way to achieve that position is for the country to get its own act together, and to continue the momentum towards constitutional reform that has already begun.

Why Colonial Mentality is a Bogeyman

April 24, 2014
by ChinoF
I once blogged about colonial mentality, stating that seeing it as a problem is a myth. After more thought and encountering further opinions on the subject, I still think it is a myth – a dangerous one. I’ve seen so many discussions where others fiercely blame it for many of the problems of the Philippines and that foreigners are the reason why the country is messed up. But I realize that it’s all a decoy meant to throw us off the course we must take to truly fix our broken nation.

White is Beautiful?
Some often cite the popularity of skin-whitening products as proof of the effect of colonial mentality. But now, someone is debunking this explanation. The Wikipedia entry on Colonial Mentality, indirectly quoting Maria Bernadette L. Abrera of the UP College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, has this to say:
Love for white skin has often been attributed to colonial mentality. But a UP researcher considers this idea a myth.
Love for white skin has often been attributed to colonial mentality. But a UP researcher considers this idea a myth.
Many Filipinos believe that the idealization of fair skin had its roots during the Spanish colonization. Actually, fairness of complexion was attested as a characteristic of the upper class women and appears as the standard of beauty among the Austronesian peoples of the pre-Hispanic Philippines. The desire for white skin is definitely not a result of colonial mentality during the Spanish rule.
If people say white skin is better, it does not include only Caucasians: Asians, including Chinese, Koreans and Japanese have white-skinned people as well.
And there is another issue, a common analogy used all over the world: the color white is a symbol of cleanliness. The darker, the dirtier. Isn’t that why we sometimes use, “Ang puti ng labada” (the laundry is white) instead of “ang linis ng labada” (the laundry is clean)? I don’t think you can say that this laundry phrase comes from colonial mentality; that would be stretching it.
Creation of an Historical Decoy
Some Filipinos believe that shedding colonial mentality is the way we can move forward. However, after I analyze it, I realize that it is based on a lot of myths and misconceptions. Hatred of colonial mentality is red herring – it distracts us from the real problems. Yet why are we concerned with colonial mentality? What is it that causes people to violently hate it?
One reason is how biased and propaganda-riddled our history education is. We have many biased and history books in our schools that influence our views one way or another. Two major writers of these were Teodoro Agoncillo and Gregorio Zaide.
Not all of these can be trusted. Pick carefully.
Not all of these can be trusted. Pick carefully.
Both writers are biased in my view. Firstly, Agoncillo had leftist views, and his writings were staunchly anti-foreign. He promoted peasant culture and the bahay kubo, and divestment of modern influences to reach the “real Filipino culture.” What he failed to realize is that the bahay kubo is common with Vietnam, Thailand and other Southeast Asian cultures, and is not uniquely Filipino.
Gregorio Zaide was anti-Spanish and pro-American. Because his history books were common and became official, he may have been influential in causing even the post-American era young people to chase after American culture (even if American commercialism was already doing that). He may have even taught that Rizal and cohorts wanted independence from Spain, when this is clearly false. Rizal and cohorts wanted the Philippines to be a province of Spain, similar to how some would want the Philippines to be a state of America. Such twisting of history has led to wrong perceptions and growth of anti-foreign hate campaigns.
The net effect of these two historians’ work may have been to promote demonization of anything foreign. Although Zaide promoted America, Agoncillo’s attitude of anti-foreignism became very strong in Filipino culture. Somewhere along the line, the notion of colonial mentality came in to define the “evil” left by our former colonizers.
The Manipulative Media Monster
We always see this slogan, “Kaya din natin,” (we are also capable), “We Filipinos can do it too.” That’s the basis of colonial mentality – Filipinos think of themselves as inferior and look at their colonizers as superior. But hold on; where did this attitude come from? Who told us this?
Perhaps the answer is, the Filipinos never felt inferior before. Perhaps they never did. Until someone gave that idea. Who’s that someone? Local mass media.
Exactly what Pinoy mass media is
Exactly what Pinoy mass media is
Media depicts Filipinos as downtrodden, depressed, oppressed and inferior… but point to the wrong causes. They conditioned the minds of people with an inferiority complex and diverted the blame to those who are actually not to blame (because the real culprits actually own the media companies). It’s also a play on the victim mentality of poor people in order to get viewers for garbage shows like Wowowee. And it helps in resistance against solutions… solutions such as bringing in foreign investment to create jobs.
In the end, colonial mentality has been used as red herring, just as the use of Villar by the Yellow faction during the election and the use of GMA by media today has led Filipinos on wild goose chases.
What see on TV and radio (even local media) drives us into a love-hate relationship with foreign ideas. We see a lot of skin-whitening products because they are the major sponsors of the shows. As I stated above, what is passed off as colonial mentality is merely commercialism. They are actually part of a new health and wellness fad that uses white skin as a sign of health. The pseudo-patriots or even leftists jump at this to point an accusing finger at “colonial mentalists,” but themselves wear Levi’s jeans and Lacoste shirts while doing this.
Media is also hypocritical in depicting foreigners. They copy American concepts and shows, but portray people from other countries as cruel and inconsiderate. The notion taught is that people from abroad are all bad apples. Media portrays foreigners as robbers and spoilers of our “nation’s wealth” and takes advantage of it to draw attention away from who is actually robbing and spoiling our nation’s wealth.
What to Do?
Of course, I agree that Filipinos have to believe in themselves and work to solve the country’s problems. But it’s not the colonial mentality thing that’s holding them back. It’s not lack of belief in themselves. It’s the lack of means. Such means have been limited thanks to the lack of economic opportunities here.
OFWs go abroad, get separated from their families, get abused and all that. Some people may be blaming foreign countries for taking OFWs. But the cause of the OFW phenomenon is lack of opportunities at home. There are just no jobs. And the way to generate jobs, which is to bring the companies here, is being blocked by those using colonial mentality as one of the excuses to oppose foreign investment and want to maintain a monopoly over business in the country.
I do agree that there are some things not worth taking from foreigners. For example, Orion has mentioned that the primadonna style of sports from America is being imitated by our basketball stars – and thus they lose to foreign basketball teams. Americans also introduced the idea of racism. While Spanish played sports, drank and joked with indios, Americans forbade their kids from playing with the natives. Then they open up after WW2 by declaring the natives their “equals.” We also have rampant consumerism and commercialism that comes from America. These are the things we must practice discernment on.
A Japanese American. Are they loudly complaining about colonial mentality as we are?
A Japanese American. Are they loudly complaining about colonial mentality as we are?
One other effect of hatred of colonial mentality is not just diversion from the true sources of corruption. The most harmful effect is that it is dividing Filipinos. Some Filipinos are quick to raise a finger and point to other people, blaming them for colonial mentality, while the thieves do their worst under their noses.
It also looks to me that hatred of colonial mentality reflects the mentality that nations SHOULD be enemies. It’s like, ang Pinoy, naghahanap talaga ng away (Pinoys are really looking for a fight). It’s like the teenage gangster picking a fight in the street to try and prove he’s superior to get over his inferiority complex. We’ve been taught that we are oppressed by other countries, so we should pick a fight by blaming them for our problems.
Let’s get rid of this fixation on colonial mentality as a problem: it isn’t. The real problem is that our own corrupt countrymen, who have power both politically and in the media, are duping us. They’re most likely using this to draw attention away from them and divide the Filipinos so that they’re busy witch-hunting the “colonial mentalists” while the kurakots get away.
As stated in other articles here in GRP, let us embrace the good parts of our lineages, which includes “colonial” influences, and forge a real identity with them. And, let us focus on the right goals.

You Are Witnesses of These Things

Father Robert Presutti, LC

Luke 24:35-48

The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, it is really I. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, "Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the source of all life because you are life itself. Your resurrection gives me the hope of being raised from the dead to rejoice with you in heaven forever. I need to reflect more often on the good you have done for us and on your promises to those who put their trust in you. Thank you, Jesus, for taking up your life again and leading the way home to heaven. I love you, and I want to follow after you with all my heart. I want to cooperate more fully with you in bringing many others to heaven with me.

Petition: Lord Jesus, bring me your Easter peace. Let me share in your victory over sin and death. May I live for you alone.

1. The Disciples’ Mixed and Changing Reaction to the Resurrection: The Gospel narratives manifest the disciples’ volatile situation. They want to believe, but lack confidence. They experience the sincere joy of seeing Christ resurrected, but have not completely overcome their cautious disbelief. The two from Emmaus recount their encounter, and Christ himself appears to them. Yet even when he is right there in front of them, they are slow to believe. Our Lord’s patient, accepting attitude is encouraging. He did not come for a meal, but takes a piece of fish to help them believe. We all have our moments of light and generosity, and our moments of sluggishness and inner resistance. I want to believe, but because it implies letting go of my false securities, I need detachment and purification. Christ aids my weakness by his nearness and closeness.

2. It Is I Myself: Christ is not a ghost. He is not a figment of my imagination, nor the result of my wishful thinking––something too good to be true. Christ is more real than my fears; his grace is stronger than my weakness, more powerful than sin and death itself. As the disciples have mixed reactions to his presence, he invites them to get a grip on themselves and reflect in faith. Reflection and contemplation in faith always lead to the truth of Christ. Am I living in an illusory world of my own making because I’m not reflecting in faith on the realities and experiences of my life? All I need to do is overcome my incredulity with faith and trust in the Christ. 

3. Thus It Was Written: The Cross was not a mistake. Christ does not see it as a necessary evil. Rather, “it was written”. In other words, it could not have been any other way. Without the Cross, no resurrection. Without the Resurrection, no experience of the fullness of life, no hope for things to come. My life too has its own experience of Christ’s cross. What for me might be an unexpected twist, an obstacle or a problem, is for the Lord a means of purifying my heart, and bringing me to the Resurrection.

Conversation with Christ: At times Lord, I fear I am seeing a ghost, just like the disciples. Your plan and will are so far beyond me that at times I have difficulty distinguishing my own wishful thinking or false hopes from your will and your call. Help me to find in you the only source of my hopes, and the One who will never fail me.

Resolution: Today I will speak of Christ’s resurrection and the hope which it brings us. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

What Makes Filipinos the Perfect Slaves?

April 21, 2014
by ChinoF
Most of us regular bloggers here attribute the problems of the Philippines to the country’s culture. For us, it’s too obvious. Our culture has customs and practices that make us do things that we better not do. Spend beyond our means, generate huge numbers of children, vote for who is popular despite their being poorly qualified, and just saying that trying to find a solution to our country’s problems is useless.

Filipinos easily fall into self-destructive traps, but some wonder if there is something else aside from culture that influences such behavior. Could there be a psychological mechanism that could explain this?
In the 1960s, Stanley Milgram, a social psychologist at Yale University conducted some experiments. These had participants deliver electric shocks to a subject in another room when that subject gave wrong answers to a question. The subject was actually acting, so while he was wired with electrodes to an apparatus, he actually felt no shocks. But the participant was made to believe they were actually shocking the subject. Gradually, the participant would deliver increasingly higher levels of shock, being told that it was necessary. Before the last and most powerful shock, the subject/actor would cry that they could not take it anymore, and might die. But the accompanying researcher would tell the participant that it had to be done. The researcher could flip the switch for them, thereby “reducing” the guilt, although the participant remained responsible for the decision to deliver the final “shock.”
His highest rate from participants in delivering the final shock was 37 out of 40 in one session, the average of all experiments being 65%, which Milgram said proved his thesis that people are “wired to obey,” even if the order is illegal or harmful. People do wrong not because they are usually evil themselves, but when given sufficient coercion to do so, they are capable of the worst evil. While Milgram’s experiment has been criticized ethically, I believe that its results and conclusion are reliable and valid.
After World War II, philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote an eye-opening piece explaining the people who carried out the Nazi Holocaust were not especially evil, abnormal people; they were as normal as any of us. Arendt said that the soldiers were just “following orders,” and did not dare question these orders. In fact, Milgram held his experiments after hearing of the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Holocaust, who Arendt wrote about. He addressed the question of why the Holocaust could happen on such a tremendous scale. Why did the Germans involved participate in such genocide without question? Basically, it was the “obedience factor” that allowed the Nazis to perform such wide scale murder. Of course, one could factor anti-Semitism, and the threat of death upon disobedience, among other factors. But so the same, it was eerie that nearly no one on the German side was as questioning as common sense would require.

The 1968 My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, the 1994 Rwanda Massacre, Pol Pot’s Cambodian Killing Fields, the Bosnian War and the Srebrenica Massacre can all be explained using Milgram’s theory. The private army guards of the Ampatuans can also be seen as such. If there was a brave dissenter that dared oppose these actions and call others to help stop them, there might have been a way to avert them.
The Milgram theory can be applied to Filipinos. Filipinos certainly exhibit the same traits as the experiment participants and Nazi lackeys; they tend to obey the wrong orders. When told by co-workers that they should embezzle a few funds or steal some materials “once in a while,” they do it. When enjoined to jaywalk, they’ll join dozens of others who cross the street at the wrong time, even if there’s an overpass available. In my high school, a classmate told me, “you’re not a true student of this school unless you know how to forge a document,” since many students have forged documents one time or another. This implied that I should join the bandwagon and not be a “different” person with my integrity. In other words, I should just “obey” the bandwagon. Thus, corruption is easy to spread especially among the ordinary people.
An additional factor in this is a flawed culture that insists on obedienceFilipino parents tell their children that absolute obedience to authority is a value. However, the culture somewhat craftily confuses who is actually an “authority.” The tendency is that we are told to be obedient, even if the “authority” is actually a despot or crook. As a result, Filipinos can be easy for bandwagons to seize because of this “Milgram obedience factor.” It can be taken advantage of to force a candidate choice onto someone.
Ours is also a culture that discourages dissent. For example, if one barkada is full of Noynoy supporters, while one member wants to dissent and vote Gordon instead, the other members of the barkada can turn on him, bully him and call him a traitor. They imply that he should “obey” them as a member of their group, and be all the same. Most less educated people fall for this, unwilling to lose friends even if he doesn’t deserve them.
Thus, the “Milgram obedience factor,” along with our dissent-suppressing culture, has helped make Filipinos into perfect slaves. We are the slaves of the oligarchs who control business with monopolies and a church that seeds us with faulty values. We are bombarded with media (TV shows and movies) that give us false lessons about life (such as being rich is being evil, or illegal means are the only way to fight against corrupt powers) and we are suckered into making them real. We have allowed incompetent people to become leaders in the nation and arrest growth and development. We thus have no choice but to become a nation of servants, as Chip Tsao described, serving other countries. We can be the perfect slaves, as long as we let the authority (or even so-called authority) hold us by the neck.
My challenge to people is that they should be aware of and suppress this “Milgram obedience factor”, challenge their culture and think carefully about their actions. We need to encourage people to increase their individual initiative and resist the crowd. But we also need to teach the right kind of obedience; for example, if Bayani tells us to use the overpasses, instead of jaywalk on the street because it’s inconvenient to go up stairs, we should do so.
This is not impossible. A recent study abroad showed that behavior demonstrated by a few can influence the majority. As long as the few repeat the behavior and demonstrate to others, those others might follow. In fact, that is how fads start; it starts with a minority, and picks up until the majority are doing it. You need only start with a gust to cause a large thunderstorm.

Time to implement a decent Divorce Law and junk the moronism of ‘annulment’

April 20, 2014
by benign0
Kris Aquino is not just another screeching Filipino showbiz personality. She is the sister of the President of the Philippines. Her marital woes with basketball player James Yap back in 2010 couldn’t have been good for the spin machinery of her brother President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III — a man who owes much of his appeal to the masses to the Catholic mind of the Filipino.
Poor Kris. Flushing her marriage with James Yap down the crapper back then was not as simple as pushing down on a lever. Like the national economy, the landscape of options available to her in a backward theocratic society such as the Philippines is poor.

In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN’s Marie Lozano, lawyer Anna Liza Logan said the TV host is not seeking legal separation.
“We will have the court decide [that the] marriage was void from the beginning,” she said.
What’s up with the moronosim known as “annulment”, anyway? For me it is quite simple, really:
“Annulment” is no more than a legal process for a state-sanctioned acceding to the tantrums of childish people crying over spilt milk.
The process of annulment aims to void the fact of the marriage so that both parties may, in principle, be free to re-marry without “moral” consequence. Contrast this with divorce which, conceptually, recognises the fact of the marriage and opens both parties to exercise options.
Annulment retroactively removes the fact of the marriage and, with said fact nullified, parties have none such to be accountable for. Divorce, on the other hand, moves on from the fact of the marriage to be terminated. It leaves the involved parties to opt for next steps under the presumption that said parties are personally accountable for any implications on their individual values (moral and ethical) associated with moving on.
In short, annulment seeks to unspill milk, while divorce seeks to mop it up.
Framed in this way, which of the two represents the thinking of a saner society? It’s no wonder that a people raised in an environment laced with moronic philosophical frameworks that include fantasies such as “annulment” are renowned for their disinclination to take control of their futures.
In her bestselling book The Art of Choosing, author Sheena Iyengar implies an interesting proposition — that some cultures habitually frame their world around pre-set paths also known as “destinies” in contrast with Western societies where the key guiding principle is choice.
In short, to the Western mind, every situation is framed by choice. The question is usually What happens next? — and therefore oriented to prospect. To the Filipino mind lorded over by idiocies such as “annulment”, the question seems to be more around What was it that pre-ordained us to this situation? — and therefore oriented to retrospect.
Prospect implies a desire to control, whereas retrospect inclines towardsresignation.
Is Philippine society framed by choice, or by destiny?
One of the key insights offered by Iyengar’s book is that people — and even animals — who were raised in environments where evaluation of options is encouraged and a semblance of control over the outcomes of these choices is felt are more likely to fight for survival — and success — more ferociously. That picture provides a stark contrast to a culture such as ours — one famously propped up by the three pillars of loser mentalities: pwede-na-yan (that’ll do), bahala na (come what may), and impunity.
It’s high time that we start to re-think the very fundamental philosphies that underpin the things institutionalised in our society. It’s high time that we junk this insult on the already meagre intelligence of Da Pinoy known as “annulment” and implement a decent Divorce Law.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Manila’s Street People

On Palm Sunday, my daughter Ilona and I joined the Philippine Outdoor Photographers on a Photowalk through the lower end of Binondo and Intramuros. I am obviously not a photographer; I find the art fascinating and enjoy learning more about it for the sake of expanding my knowledge, but it’s a fundamentally different sort of talent that I’m not sure I have.
And that’s okay, because even if my photographer friends would have a hard time grasping it (after all, not everyone is a writer, either), watching them is tremendously valuable. Photographers, it seems to me, have a skill in looking at the world in fine detail, and if you pay attention to them, you see things you never knew were there.
Like these people. We spend most of our time trying not to see them, and if not for my companions’ broad sense of what constitutes “beauty” and their skills in capturing it, it’s very likely no one ever would.
Palm-frond vendors outside Sta. Cruz Church -- Seth Capitulo
Palm-frond vendors outside Sta. Cruz Church — Seth Capitulo
A different religion for Palm Sunday -- Miki Chelou
A different religion for Palm Sunday — Miki Chelou
The runaway -- Mike Samonte
The runaway — Mike Samonte
Regatta de Basura -- Rod Erick Ladores
Regatta de Basura — Rod Erick Ladores
Aling Juana, vendor -- Bernie Vicente
Aling Juana, vendor — Bernie Vicente
On the corner -- Rommel L. Rutor
On the corner — Rommel L. Rutor
whayne penero
Flower girl — Whayne Peñero
Alley cat -- Kiel Umali Ferreras
Alley cat — Kiel Umali Ferreras
Hot work -- Josefiel Rivera
Hot work — Josefiel Rivera
Peaceful -- NJT Photography (Noel Tonido)
Peaceful — NJT Photography (Noel Tonido)
Lola -- Edd Poliquet
Lola — Edd Poliquet
Street child -- Herdy Kristine Marzan
Street child — Herdy Kristine Marzan
Do-it-yourself water park -- Joart D. Juanitez
Do-it-yourself water park — Joart D. Juanitez
White heat -- Whayne Peñero
White heat — Whayne Peñero
Pogi -- Mark Barlongay
Pogi — Mark Barlongay
The soup eaters -- Ben Kritz (Hey, that's me. Not bad for an amateur.)
The soup eaters — Ben Kritz (Hey, that’s me. Not bad for an amateur.)
All photos © 2014, by their respective owners. All rights reserved.