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Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Few Thoughts on the Problems of the Philippines

It is no shame to admit failure.  What is shameful is to accept failure.  When it comes to a country suffering “in extremis” as the Philippines is, failure cannot be an acceptable option.  Your “building Rome” metaphor is a false one because what is happening in the Philippines is much more a “tearing down” of almost everything that was valuable and worthwhile.  Post-war Philippines was but a shadow of per-war Philippines.  Today’s Philippines is a monstrous caricature of a nation determined to cannibalize on itself as it systematically destroys every aspect and symbol of the underlying spirit behind the Filipino people, via structures that encourage poverty and mendicancy.

For hundreds of years, beginning with the Spanish and continuing with the Americans and into the present, administration after administration have continued to fail the Filipino people because of their consistent and persistent “preferential option for the rich and powerful”.  The poor like yourself were seldom ever allowed to rise to any position of power and authority.  The poor have had almost no representation in government EVER.  It’s an absurd system where poor pedicab drivers are represented in government by super-rich Mikey Arroyo.  Therein lies your failure.  Your inability to expand representation for the poor in government.

It simply isn’t possible to believe that among that great mass of people, that there isn’t one Filipino who cannot be like Lula of Brazil… uneducated and illiterate until his adulthood but with sufficient power of natural intellect to rise to the top and lead that nation to greatness.  From the ranks of labor at that.  Greatness from the bottom.  No Benedictine school.  No law degree.  No Harvard PhD.  Lula had none of this.  But he had his intellect, his heart and his soul in the right place all the time.

The Philippine political system simply will not allow this concept of “intelligence and empowerment from below” in its determination to protect the terrible oligarchs who have ruled the nation almost since time immemorial.  Let us not apply our intellect to excuses for our failures.  Let us all look at those failures straight in the eye and promise ourselves to rise and do the right things for the people.  Let us look at recreating symbols of pride around which a beaten-down people can rally around.  Icons of pride that can provide a sense of hope and belonging to millions of hopeless poor.

Symbols are important as they are representations of who we think we are.  They are rallying points for crucial actions.  Every rebirth has always had its symbols.  The Philippines needs a rebirth so it need new and powerful symbols about who we are.  Our own symbols.  Not those symbols given to us by our colonizers.  We need symbols and icons that the poor can embrace as representing them.

Eduardo Gimenez

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