Neither in your stars nor your selves

This handout photo taken on June 23, 2015 by student Joyce Torrefranca and released to AFP on July 10 shows homeless nine-year-old boy Daniel Cabrera doing his homework on a wooden stool placed close to a fastfood restaurant to catch the light from the store in Mandaue in the central Philippines. The homeless Filipino boy has been overwhelmed with aid after the heart-wrenching photo of him studying on the pavement and using faint light from a McDonald's outlet went viral on the Internet.  The photo of Daniel Cabrera, posted on Facebook last month by college student Joyce Torrefranca, was then shared close to 7,000 times on the social networking site and reported by local television.       AFP PHOTO / Joyce Torrefranca ---EDITORS NOTE---RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / Joyce Torrefranca" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS  - NO ARCHIVESJOYCE TORREFRANCA/AFP/Getty Images

This handout photo taken on June 23, 2015 by student Joyce Torrefranca and released to AFP on July 10 shows homeless nine-year-old boy Daniel Cabrera doing his homework on a wooden stool placed close to a fastfood restaurant to catch the light from the store in Mandaue in the central Philippines. The homeless Filipino boy has been overwhelmed with aid after the heart-wrenching photo of him studying on the pavement and using faint light from a McDonald’s outlet went viral on the Internet. The photo of Daniel Cabrera, posted on Facebook last month by college student Joyce Torrefranca, was then shared close to 7,000 times on the social networking site and reported by local television. AFP PHOTO / Joyce Torrefranca
—EDITORS NOTE—RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT “AFP PHOTO / Joyce Torrefranca” – NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS – NO ARCHIVESJOYCE TORREFRANCA/AFP/Getty Images

From what I have seen and experienced, Filipinos are a very humble and self-deprecating people.  These are traits not unusual to Southeast Asians, for example, the Thais and Indonesians are likewise gentle and shy.  In the Philippines, however, I do see a lot of “beating up” on themselves that goes beyond the average.  I attribute this to the string of poor leadership that has robbed Filipinos of a better standard of living…and their national pride.  After all it is hard to be proud if you have no water, no electricity, no sanitation, no job, no food.  What is unique is that Filipinos put undue blame on themselves instead of putting the blame rightly on where it should go….the political institutions that trap them in a vicious circle of poor leadership.

I admit I have grown impatient with what I read from bloggers and social media postings.  Filipinos always saying, “it is our fault as a people that we are in this sorry state.  If only we elected the right leaders.  If only we were less corrupt as a people”.  And so on, and so on.  I have news for you.  Filipinos are no more corrupt than any other nationality.  In my travels and experience living abroad, I have come to realize that people are the same everywhere.  What is different are the institutions–which form the culture, which in turn form the behaviors.  What I am saying is if you put any other nationality in this kind of setting and milleu, you would likely get the same kind of behavior and result.

In other words, people here tend to blame the symptoms instead of looking for the causes of their lousy situation.

What is the cause?  It’s the form of government.  As a (former) American, I am so surprised and aghast to find the American form of government transplanted here.  For a developing country, I cannot stress any stronger how unsuitable and just plain wrong the American system is.  It is a slow-to-respond system; not what you need in a country where rapid decisions need to be made.  It is a system built on compromise and “horse-trading” i.e.. give me something, and I’ll give you something in return.  Again, in a developing country setting, especially in the Philippines with its entrenched political family dynasties, this just makes things ripe for corruption.

So, if I read another exhortation about national change-has-to-start-with-the-individual bullcrap, I am just going to wade in there and start trolling.  Filipinos say they have to stop voting in the wrong people.  They say the elite have to educate the masses.  That is all hogwash. Filipinos will always face the same poor choice of leaders, because no good leader can emerge or develop in this kind of system.  It will always be traditional-style politicians because you have a traditional style of government.  At best, the choice will be between the incompetent/honest vs the more competent/corrupt.  That was how it was in 2010 and I’m afraid that is how it will be again in 2016.

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3 thoughts on “Neither in your stars nor your selves

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