The last leaders of PHL who understood the importance of ideas were Ferdinand Marcos and Ninoy Aquino (father of BS Aquino). After these two, PHL just went to hell in a handbasket.
When Ninoy said: "The Filipino is worth dying for", he was not talking about Juan, Pedro, or Maria. It is not about you or me, nor even about a population that now numbers 100m whose home base is an archipelago squeezed between China Sea and Pacific Ocean. He was talking about a person who he dreamt was totally free, able to determine his own future, who just happen to live in that archipelago and who share a unique heritage with others that he/ she should not be ashamed of. This was in opposition to Marcos who was defining "who is a Filipino" through his attempt to revise history via his "Malakas and Maganda" narrative. Both recognized that there was something so fundamental about knowing and about being sure of one's identity. Everything flows from this principle.
When it became evident that Mao Tse Tung was going to win, the first thing that Chang Kai Tsek did was ship all the books in their national libraries and artifacts from their museums; there were four ships that arrived in Taiwan carrying all these goods. CKT put himself at risk by delaying his departure just to make sure that future generation would know who and what was Chinese before Mao could disfigure that. Mao was of course bent on a redefinition based Marxist ideas which he later followed up with his infamous Cultural Revolution. The deep antagonism between Koreans and Japanese may be traced back to the fact that Korea was a colony of Japan for 90 years up to WWII, but this is fueled up to this date when Japan, for example, claims certain aspects of the culture as being authentically Japanese, or vice versa. and this can range from anything like rice wine to tatamis. Just imagine if Indonesians one day claims that sinigang is authentically Indonesian; I wonder if PHL would protest. But, can this be why China, Korea, and Japan know where they are going because they accept where they came from, and thus are sure of their identities?
But unlike other nations who put discussions on culture and history front and center in an effort to have an update to where the national identity is heading, PHL media is basically dictated by ratings and popularity. I saw the clear impact of this last month even on the upper echelon of our society. Never mind the businessmen for they are busy with profits; politicians, with PDAF and DAP, etc. I would have expected that if there were people who would breath and sleep with ideas, it would be the churchmen for afterall their business is about ideas, philosophies, theology, etc.
Well, Cdl Chito Tagle attended the Synod 2014 in Vatican last month. The meeting veered on hot button issues like same-sex marriage, divorce, etc. Natural this tickled the interest of international media and a large contingent converged in Vatican trying to get a blow by blow account of the proceedings. To cut the story short, the house became divided between American conservatives and German liberals. Because Tagle was one of those assigned as group leaders, media took notice of him, and the Americans were banking on him to be on their side since Tagle is a product of an American school. Unfortunately, nobody could determine his position because he was swinging from one end to the other on so vital an issue. Consequently, he was lambasted no end by media as the biggest disappointment of Synod 2014. When asked later what he was thinking, he said he was there to ask help on what to do about the havoc being inflicted on countless families by the exodus of OFWs. I said to myself he was allowing his Filipino to show — a mendicant mentality at that. As a Pinoy, I was embarrassed for him. DOES PRACTICALITY PRECEDE IDEAS, OR SHOULD IT BE THAT IDEAS PRECEDE PRACTICALITY???
Don't get me wrong I am a Catholic, and lately, have been trying to be a better Catholic. The reason for that is not anything that happened in PHL, but a visit to Jakarta, of all places, a country which is predominantly Muslim. In my three month stay there, I worked with two Indonesians, who surprised me as being Catholics. Outside business, they always tried to veer our conversations towards various aspects of Catholicism. I supposed they were expecting that since I was coming from a predominantly Catholic country, they could learn something new from me. It was a big letdown, I was the one learning, and boy, were they profound They could rationalize doctrines philosophically and theologically. I guess, being under adverse environment, they were continually studying in order to have a solid footing re their faith. To avoid looking so ignorant, there were many nights in the hotel there that I spent surfing the net on topics we discussed.
Today, of course, I see that what PHL has is a 15th century Catholicism. The annual Black Nazarene procession in Quiapo, for example, is not really Catholic. It is more like a thing that Spain had in those centuries, which in turn was shaded by a mix of Islamic, Moorish confused tradition. But, that is not what Catholicism of today is, which had to find a reply to Descarte, Kant, Hobbes, Nietzsche, etc., philisophies that tended to make man the god in order to eliminate God. Unfortunately, even many Filipino priests don't know this. You go to mass, and instead of them explaining the gospel in the sermon and thus enriching the mind, they tell you to do this, do that, practical advices to children. Catholicism in PHL would be, if it were Islam, like Saudi's Shiite or Iran's Sunni, not like Turkey's or Indonesia's. It is definitely far from Ireland's nor that segment of France which remains solidly Catholic despite an atheist surrounding.
But, here is some interesting things I found out about Indonesia. There was a time Indonesia was sending 10,000 scholars per year to the US and European schools, a good number to Ivy Leagues. It lasted for over 10 years, thus over 100,000 scholars, all expenses shouldered by the government, and yet they were not tied to any contract that they had to come back. Yes, the big numbers you read are all correct. One of the scholars was one of the Indonesian I was referring to earlier. He had a BSChE in MIT and an MBA from Wharton. Funny that he should say that all Filipinos he met in the US felt so much at home. He said Indonesians don't feel at home in the US, possibly the reason why there was no need of contract. They eventually go home. And here is PHL reducing the budget on Education each year. Towards the end of next year, ASEAN will become like EU, just one econmic bloc. If above is any indication of what other ASEAN countries, PHL will not know what hit it as competition will be more intense. Countries will be jockeying for niches where one can be dominant. If PHL does not find as much market niches as the rest, it will be dead in the water, lifeless, in five years after its into the bloc, like Greece and Spain in EU, so much unemployment. Mark my word on this.
Point is we copied our constitution from USA. Yet, do we understand that America is not about a people or about a land that runs across from San Francisco to Maine, or from Upper Peninsula in Michigan down to southern tip of Texas. Those are secondary; America is about an idea. In turn, that idea was heavily influenced by the French revolution. I think what many Filipinos miss is that an idea has a universal value. Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is not American, French, or Russian, etc. It has something to do with the dignity of ALL men and women.
On parting, the two Indonesians gave their opinion of PHL which I thought had a lot of wisdom: "Philippinrs should not waste what it already has. You have the mentality of the Chinese, American, Spanish, and thus European, and Catholicism. It is the envy of all Asian nations that you should have such a heritage, and we are scared of you. Because we know that if you get your act together, you will be a riival to China and Japan. Nobody understands why you don't do it."
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