Criticizing PNoy is good for us and democracy

President Noynoy Aquino still has until 2016 before he steps down from his post. That seems like a really long time for him to remain in office and have photos of him taken while “working” bandied around as evidence of “achievement”. It would seem even longer, like an eternity, to Filipinos who have lost their trust in his capacity to lead the nation. Whether or not his popularity ratings remain strong by the end of his term is not really important. When the result of a popularity or satisfaction survey is favorable to him, PNoy is more than happy to ride the wave of “support” from the public. But if the result is unfavorable to him however, PNoy just shrugs it off and ignores it — which is precisely why publishing these surveys and making a big deal out of them is essentially pointless.

Considering that it is going to be a few more years before the next Presidential election, we need to ask ourselves: Are Filipinos doomed to a mediocre existence until then? The answer is: Only if they allow it to remain that way. But what can ordinary citizens do to uplift their conditions? The answer is: a lot more than they would normally imagine. In short, we need to be a bit more clever in the way we regard our future.

I guess one can say that those who do not trust PNoy or the government to do the right thing are lucky. They are lucky because they see beyond the story told to them by the Establishment. As a result, they are not only more critical of PNoy, they also actively participate in politics than those who trust him; they can take radical and concrete steps to do something to improve their own lives without waiting for the government to do it for them.

Just think about it. After each change of government or People Power revolution in the past, most Filipinos simply go back to their apathetic ways and let the newly installed government run the country without bothering to check if the right things are being done. It is like a cycle and this is part of the reason why public servants get away with not doing their jobs properly.

Most Filipinos become dissatisfied and act only after the term of the incumbent President is almost over – when they have had enough of the “corrupt” activities or when the lack of progress is undeniable. This is evident in how they would rather mount street revolutions to remove the incumbent President than guide him by being more vocal or involved in the crafting of government policies from the very beginning. In other words, prevention is better than the cure. And being more critical of whoever is the sitting President can prevent corruption and help progress along.

By putting pressure on the government to shape up, ordinary Filipinos will have a better chance of making their public servants work harder. The fact that Malacañang’s communications team was compelled to show photos of the President supposedly working after activists branded him lazy is proof that criticism is an important input into a successful democracy.

A recent study also showed that being involved in politics can make people happy:

Democracy depends on the time, energy, and engagement of ordinary people. But it remains quite difficult to motivate average citizens even to vote, much less to engage in the more intensive forms of political activism needed to counteract powerful forces that work against rule by the people.

Statistical analyses showed that after controlling for demographic factors like age, race, political orientation, and education, study participants who scored higher in political activism also reported higher levels of personal well-being. Specifically, political activism scores were associated with feeling more pleasant emotions, reporting greater life satisfaction, and having more experiences of freedom, competence, and connection to others. Our application of past research on “psychological thriving” further showed that 28 percent of the politically active adults had reached this highest level of well-being, compared to 18 percent of the community sample.

Politicians and activists typically attempt to motivate ordinary citizens to participate in democracy on the basis of moral appeals or attempts to fix a problem. Our results suggest that it might also be worthwhile to highlight the internal rewards citizens can obtain from being politically engaged: A sense of satisfaction, the experience of pleasant emotions and of connection with others, and a feeling of aliveness.

While we are criticizing our government, we should also work on improving our own personal welfare. Since we know that we cannot rely on the government for handouts, we need to take stock of what we can do to make ourselves more financially stable. Working as an employee is fine as long as we take pride in what we do and do it well. After all, not everyone is born with an aptitude for entrepreneurship. Having a fixed income can mean that we can only dedicate a small percentage of our salary for partying or splurging on ourselves, which is probably why Filipinos need to think less about such indulgences. The idea of saving or foregoing instant gratification might be an alien concept to some Filipinos especially since we are known for our penchant for organizing fiestas. We should, instead, consider radically changing our outlook towards how we view partying. There is so much work to be done to reach our goal of becoming financially independent. We can learn new skills or increase our knowledge of the world and the environment. We must resist the temptation to engage in activities that give us only fleeting moments of happiness because it will only lead to regret and sadness in the long term.

If each of us worked harder at elevating our status and aim for no less than first-class, only then can the nation have a fair shot at taking its place among the first-class societies of the world sometime in the future. As the saying goes, “Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution. It represents the wise choice of many alternatives”.

It may take a while before PNoy steps down from his post but we can do a lot to make the most out of the long wait ahead. Asking him to step down is also one of them.

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51 Comments on “Criticizing PNoy is good for us and democracy”

  1. Great article as usual ilda!
    Unfortunately, some rabid and stupid supporters of the yellow regime like VBA would rather ignore the truth than accept it.
    The truth being that this current administration is way way WORSE than the previous administrations.
    People like VBA would rather accept a MEDIOCRE way of life.

    1. Unfortunately, some rabid and stupid supporters of the yellow regime like VBA would rather ignore the truth than accept it.

      And that is why they are unlucky. When the proverbial brown stuff hits the fan, they will look like a headless chicken.

      Thanks by the way!

  2. I love this part, Ilda:

    “While we are criticizing our government, we should also work on improving our own personal welfare. Since we know that we cannot rely on the government for handouts, we need to take stock of what we can do to make ourselves more financially stable. ”

    Not doing anything makes a critic a lousy nagger. LOL.

    I think one of the steps should include forcing this administration to come up with metrics that people can actually see and feel. In a way, I liken the administration to a poker player trying to bluff people into thinking that it has a strong hand.

    1. Ah yes. They are bluffing. I actually don’t know why some of PNoy’s supporters claim he is honest. He wasn’t even honest with himself when he thought he could handle the job when they asked him to run for the Presidency.

  3. Very well said maam Ilda.

    From politics which the mediocrity of Filipinos is at its worst.

    Many fellow Filipinos hate suggestions when you give them a piece of suggestions that will eventually help them in the end.

    I also point out those people who hate suggestions when you dare them to go to the sites that will give them a clear picture of efficient leadership or in an organization, an efficient team policy, they’ll just tell you in words that I can say pure name calling without bothering to think what the person’s telling them.

    Even in sports, I can tell you this kind of pathetic Filipino way of life of instead of getting out of losing ways, they’ll just accept it as part of the road to success and even I say this my friend, they say that it’s God’s will that they weren’t in the right time to win.

    I had this experience when I point out the real weakness of my Alma Mater in a very well known college loop sports. When I tell them about this, they just tell me that I better help the team financially. Well I’m not yet graduated from that school so I have no right to give them funds for the team. And when I tell them to help them, wow one of them just branded me like little boy. I ask him to go to other forum pages on that aspect, he just can’t answer me.

    It’s like when you give them a good advice/suggestions they just take it badly!

    And also for most Filipinos, never let your fate just be on God’s hand alone. We have the chance to help ourselves and the group we’re in even in just little things. Even the most successful persons and groups started in little things. If we Filipinos just do our share, our lives will change for the best because we never let ourselves to live in mediocrity as the Creator Himself is always there whether you work or not for the progress of this nation.

    1. Yes, it is the fatalistic attitude towards life or the acceptance of the belief that all events are predetermined and inevitable that keeps most Filipinos from being more pro-active towards achieving their goals.

      It is really difficult to change that kind of mindset. Exposure to different points of view can speed up the process, indeed.

      1. The school that I’m referring is Adamson University and the college loop sports is UAAP ma’am Ilda.

        The alumni there doesn’t even care about giving what they have for the team, especially in basketball to win. Yes, it’s a bit off topic but you can see the similarity about the current government’s doing in our nation.

        This is just one of smallest units in our society but I’m just one of the very few people of the University that wanted to see this team get out of losing ways. I ask myself why there are people or organizations seem to be so successful whatever they do. Simple answer, they worked hard to reach their goals, not wait for years (as for AdU team in UAAP, 35 year drought) to just taste what success really means.

        I’m sorry to say but what you say on the term fatalistic attitude towards life is also applied to my school in the field of competition.

        This person, Young De Vera Baral is the one who always name calling me ‘little boy’. I posted my success in my latest part of a low level league, he’s saying that I’m nothing. In my part I don’t need to be popular just to start my successes in my life. It all starts in me and help the people around me taste what success is all about.

        I also add, everyone is entitled to reach their goals in shortest period of time. Because once you do that, it will just go to your system and become a way of life for you and us all.

  4. I have a co-worker He is an African-American. He was born of poverty. Grew up in a poverty stricken place called Gheto, like our slums. His mother was a cleaning woman. His father abandoned the family, when he was young. This man did not just believed in his fate. He studied hard. Went to a University scholarship. Then, now have a good job in a Technical Research and Development for a large Defense industry corporation…I am really inspired by this man…who lifted himself out of poverty…

    1. To be fair, there are many Filipinos who manage to lift their status in life from their wretched conditions. Some of them unfortunately, are related to hangers on who think they can just live-off their relative’s hard work. The saying “success is relative” has a different meaning to Pinoys.

  5. It was Americans from whom I first heard the concept of “criticizing country out of love for it.” Why can’t it be done here?

    When someone comes around and tells Pinoys to be more active in politics, many automatically assume that all it entails is barking louder than anyone else. Because using their kokote is an alien concept to them, many fail to shape informed opinions.

    I believe that although dissenting voices like GRP walk a fine line between critic and crab, we never cross it.

    1. Think of it from my perspective: It would be very easy for me to live an insulated, pleasant tropical life here like about 90% of the other expats I know do. The whole country could go to shit, but as long as I have Internet, access to the duty-free shop, and things in my little gated village (wherein the good private school I send my children to is also located) are kept peaceful and orderly (because we can afford to pay whoever we have to in order to make sure they stay that way), what concern is it of mine?

      It is because we’re all part of a bigger system. If you believe in the butterfly effect, the whole world should care what happens here because eventually, it’s going to affect everyone else. And there’s no shame — and it may even be an honorable thing — to want the best for people. And sometimes what’s best is being hard on them to cajole, browbeat, embarrass, or inspire them to get the best out of themselves, because you can see they’ve got in them if they’d quit being big babies, apply some effort, and take a few risks.

      1. Good on you, BenK. It is easy for some expats to forget how hard life is for the majority when they have servants making their own lives in the Philippines feel like heaven. And they can pay their servants with peanuts too. And I suppose it is also easy for them to flee back to their homeland when the proverbial brown stuff hits the fan. I guess some of them do not really consider the Philippines their permanent home, which could explain why they do not want to invest time in being vocal about how things should be run in the Philippines.

        It’s one thing for other expats to be indifferent but it is quite another for an American to hold a similar view to PNoy supporters. I find it strange when an American thinks we are doing a disservice to the country when in fact, in the US, what we are doing is considered normal. Thank goodness I know of only one American who has this narrow point of view.

        1. “Thank goodness I know of only one American who has this narrow point of view.”

          I rather think this means you don’t know many Americans. Americans are adamant about freedom of speech, criticize their presidents loudly, rarely impeach their President, never orchestrate a coup, rarely call for him to leave office, and most don’t undermine him when he is representing national causes abroad. E pluribus unum. They understand the sacrifice of self that goes into national strength and stability, into security, into the kind of confidence that keeps investors investing.

        2. I hope you don’t interpret my response to you as attacking you. Frankly, it is really hard to respond to you without being labelled a “thug” or something no matter what approach I use. But I just have to say that I am entitled to my opinion of PNoy and you can’t say I am wrong or being unpatriotic just because you don’t agree with my views.

          You can’t speak for all Americans because I happen to know a lot of Americans and their interpretation of what democracy is about is totally in line with mine.

          When it comes to orchestrating a coup, ask convicted mutineer and PNoy buddy, Senator Trillanes how to do it because he was very good at organising a few during GMA’s time.

      2. BenK,

        I realized that what I wrote is open to misinterpretation, so just to make sure that we’re on the same page, let me clarify things here.

        I was not complaining about any apathy from expats but I was wondering about why Filipinos can’t develop the mindset I mentioned above.

        Your perspective, it seems to me, is also applicable to locals who are from the affluent community. Yet on the other side of the spectrum we have Filipinos who are trapped into thinking that criticizing their government will not put food on the table which they so necessarily need. So, both ends tend to think “why bother?”

        It’s not the expats who have the tendency to bark loudest whom I’m wondering about, but the type of Filipino who would rather remain apathetic and uninformed because it’s much easier.

        In fact, I think a push from expats is absolutely necessary, yet many Filipinos don’t see it that way.

        1. Your perspective, it seems to me, is also applicable to locals who are from the affluent community.

          I was thinking the same thing while I was typing my response to Benk. Some Filipinos who live in gated communities with servants and drivers can easily live the life without bothering too much about the people from the other side of the fence.

    2. @FallenAngel

      GRP merely highlights whatever shortfall the Phil government and its people fail to do. We don’t publish unsubstantiated claims like some other sites out there.

      Most of our analysis are based on facts reported in the news.

      1. Ilda,

        As a writer for GRP myself, it would be an absolute disservice and dishonesty to ourselves and our readers to do our analyses any other way.

        I would never be able to live with myself if I did.

        1. That’s good to know. Sadly, some journalists from mainstream media are guilty of publising “unverified” reports just to generate traffic.

    3. The common Filipino view of critical thinkers are National Activists who seeks political unrest. It’s sad but this is true especially among those who are frightened by the capabilities of government officials.

  6. I agree with the notion that criticism of the President, or anyone in public office, on the acts of government he undertakes, is constructive. Just as it is constructive of people to criticize the critics (Raissa Robles when lose with facts, or the Catholic Church when it engages on HR legislation, or GRP on when it is dogmatically unobjective). Even critics of the critics (like Joe America) can be off base and need to be hauled back into line.

    But there is a difference between criticizing the deeds done in office and personal insults. When the dialogue goes uncivil, it is not constructive. The main problem in the US today is the descent of the nation into uncivil behavior. If I were Filipino I would want to show I could be more dignified than that rat’s nest of lies, deceit and venom in America.

    And calling for a President who was duly elected, has not been impeached, is generally well thought of by the public, is pursuing his campaign promises, and is seen by investors as a stabilizing influence, to step down is too drastic. Indeed, it smacks of the coup mentality that has pervaded thinking here since the getgo, exactly the kind of behavior that Mr. Aquino has laid to rest. It takes effort, indeed, to put up with a President we don’t respect (for me, George Bush), but I rather think it is better for the nation to suck it up, be respectful of the democratic process, and start working real hard for the 2016 election rather than jerk it back into instability and cause investors who are jsut now poking out to flee. The next election is not so far off, in the timeframe of building election machines. VP Binay sees this, and is starting to put together a substantial machine to back him.

      1. BenK, Ilda does, last line: “It may take a while before PNoy steps down from his post but we can do a lot to make the most out of the long wait ahead. Asking him to step down is also one of them.”

        This is consistent with other comments she has made expressing a desire to see him out of office before the end of his term.

      2. It was an option that was articulated. That’s all it was. You’re suffering from a bit of that same cognitive bias that you keep accusing some people here of applying in the posts and comments that they publish.

        1. Some people’s interpretation of my last line is totally wrong. It’s simply saying that people have the right to ask PNoy to resign if they are dissatisfied with his performance. Isn’t that what the militants and some other groups who were dissatisfied with Arroyo during her time in office were clamouring for her to do too?

        2. benigno, ilda, I am glad I miss-interpreted that one, too. I think asking the President to step down is a poor option. I have a cognitive bias for letting a President serve his term, unless the fate of the nation is at risk. In the Philippines, many seem to believe the fate of the nation is at risk if the President is treading on their turf, thus, relentless and destructive coup mentality.

          But I am happy to know that no one here is calling for President Aquino to step down, just presenting it as an option for the intellectually open-minded.

        3. Yuk, that’s how this Maher boy’s aka Joe America mind works.

          This is the one I like most:

          “When the dialogue goes uncivil, it is not constructive.”

          How about dishonesties?

          And this one:

          “If I were Filipino I would want to show I could be more dignified than that rat’s nest of lies, deceit and venom in America.”

          Just be honest and fact-based and one is going to earn the respect of level headed comment readers of this blog.

          Bill Maher’s always defence when caught pants down with his obnoxious remarks is always “It’s a satire. I’m just a comedian.”

          Try to google who’re Maher’s fanatics…

    1. I totally agree with you. There is a big difference between insults and constructive criticism.
      Ilda is right on some things. I also found that many Filipinos want instant gratification. That is why they are so easy to please and easy to manipulate. People find it easier to express their hatred than directly improving their situation. They get so heated that it’s hard to reason with them, more-so if they think themselves high for being intellectuals.
      I do respect Noy for his good intentions, but I calculate that he won’t be able to achieve all that he promised during 1 term especially with the current society he has to serve. The poison from the last term overflowed into this one. That being said, he will probably be pounded harder once his term is finished since the expectations of the people are unreasonably high.

      Hating can do so much, but it won’t really improve things in the long run.

      1. While Mr. BS Aquino talks about “The poison from the last term overflowed into his.” That the funds had have dried up.. was also about the time when he gave away the “savings?” to some lawmakers for their DAP.

        I have my reasons to be NOT so very trusting to his very good intentions and honest governance. 😉 *winks

  7. PNoy should get the first because he is the President. For the past 2 years, everybody is annoyed of his incompetence and stupidity. The Manila Hostage Crisis, his criticisms against the past admin (which is an act of COWARDICE), trying to make a PD which is UNCONSTITUTIONAL, and so on. And the likes of you still love to suck his d8ck. Yes, you would rather accept a MEDIOCRE way of life, right?

    And why the hell would you put up the $100,000 dinner issue, eh? It was her OWN personal money. On PNoy eating hotdogs, it’s more like ‘pakitang-tao’, like you always do.

    You want evidence? I got many.

    1. Also the King in Yellow never got the “memo” that any leader good or bad are suffers from criticism and if he can’t handle criticism he shouldn’t have become the head of state.

      1. He was warned not to use jejemon but he just kept doing it. Hopefully he’ll be back using better spelling and grammar.

        1. Unfortunately, I don’t think VBA has the mental capacity to stop using that retarded jejemon language. He is far too stupid and stubborn to stop using it.

        2. I wrote about that kind of behavior in one of my previous articles: Filipinos cannot progress if they cannot follow even simple guidelines

          “As a blogger, I quite often come across commentators who cannot even follow simple commenting guidelines. There are some participants in the blogosphere who constantly violate the guidelines by consistently writing obscenities and foul language on forums just to give the impression that they are above the guidelines. The funny thing is, being moderated does not even stop them from misbehaving. They even cry foul for being moderated instead of conforming to the guidelines.

          This brings us to another world-renowned Filipino mentality — the “victim” mentality. Filipinos are good at playing the “victim card” because they are very sensitive and emotional people. They play the victim card in front of the public to get as much attention as possible. Filipinos always try to get around following any rules and regulations or even simple guidelines by appealing to emotion.”

        3. Till then we just have to giggle at the ghostie known as VBA. He is just full of hot air just like his precious president.

  8. @Nutzi Vincenzo

    As usual you are the lead black propagandist of the do nothing administration. Are you trying to say now that the administration of Mr. BS Aquino has no corruption? Explain the mansions of his cronies. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

    You blame his perceived enemies as bad without proof. You tag the dictator wannabe as good. Great lie principle at work. Explain the panic button on the Nokor missile launch.

    They say a worst case scenario would mean forced evacuation. Evacuate where? Would this not cause widespread panic and block the roads? The AFP, PNP, Bureau of Fire Protection and other concerned agencies should be put on alert. The reactions of Mr. Robredo and Mr. Ramos are not good.Contingency plans should have been out weeks ago. They should be careful not to create a panic situation.

  9. “While we are criticizing our government, we should also work on improving our own personal welfare.”

    I completely agree. Whiners and haters are are just as bad as fanatics.

    1. DF, Thanks for the reference links. Both articles present interesting cases. Let me see if I understand the pork issue.

      • The Budget Office (Secretary Abad), with the President’s okay, is withholding certain pork payments requested by legislators in order to certify that funds will go to proper uses. Pork money is given to legislators to improve their districts and often to help gain re-election. Because elections are next year, the withholding is creating considerable angst.

      • Opposition Senator Honasan hotly criticized the withholding and suggested that it is for political reasons. Rep M. Magsaysay agrees that the withholding is not right, saying the Administration should not treat legislators as children. President Aquino’s Office says the withholding is not political and is being done to make sure funds go to proper uses. So it is fundamentally a conflict between two branches of government, Executive and Legislative. (Question: Is Senator Honasan the senator who, along with Senator Enrile, were engaged in trying to put together a coup to overthrow President Cory Aquino?)

      • House Speaker Belmonte says he has no trouble with the strict release of funds as long as they are all eventually released to constituents. He believes Executive would error if they impounded the funds. (Question: Is he a member of President Aquino’s party, or an ally?)

      Is that a reasonable synopsis of the case? Both sides of the dispute can be seen as having political “cause” behind their statements and actions.

      I think commonly calling the funds “pork” is not good language because it applies a pejorative (negative, biased) meaning to a normal process of funding government activities. The official term is Priority Development Assistance Fund, a name which suggests money should go to important developments in the legislator’s jurisdiction. I think I would need to understand the rules and see the allocations play out to make a judgment on who has the more esteemed position on the matter.

      Short of that, it seems to be the kind of tension that exists in a healthy, stable democracy full of checks and balances, including differing branches of government and different political ideologies. (My cognitive bias sees checks and balances as stabilizing, even though they create friction and lots of headlines and arguments.)

  10. While we are criticizing our government, we should also work on improving our own personal welfare. Since we know that we cannot rely on the government for handouts, we need to take stock of what we can do to make ourselves more financially stable.

    I cannot agree more. I think that’s the most positive message this article imparted to the readers.

  11. Hehe. Ika nga “Bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..SAPUL!” 😛

    So sorry na lang, AbNoy, kung napikon ka.

  12. I don’t believe it, you understand exactly whats going on with our people. I’ve been living here in the Philippines for more than seven months now and have done a lot of research and study on philosophy and economics by myself through books and research online. I have made few friends and have only been able to talk to very few individuals on higher learning and education. The majority of the people either take what I say in stride or don’t understand.

    I feel that people can make their lives better just by changing their outlook on it. Instead of the material wealth that will only satisfy them momentarily, I would say to invest in yourself through growth and effort. But, I feel, since Filipinos focus so much on english and tagalog in their schools while growing up, they don’t have mastery of either language, but rather tend to fall on just the ability to have simple communications. Thus, they don’t quite have the ability to transcend to higher degrees of understanding.

    I also agree heavily with their lack of discipline. The way they focus on primarily themselves oppose to what the law dictates or on others only stems mal improvement and selfish and self centered conduct. Also, the lay back attitude that so much of us express is a grand staple to our peoples’ never ending mediocrity.

    Though I feel my words may not be as deep throat as yours, I am glad that I found someone who shares these views.

    I hate the fact that our people are like this. Even back in the states where I am from, some of the Filipinos I hung out with had the same mentality. I always hated it and diverged from them eventually.

    I don’t know when our people will dig their way out of this rut, but I can tell you its not going to be anytime soon. I shared a conversation with a person who graduated at The University of the Philippines and she agrees with what you say also. I just said, it has to start with our youths, and also with the peoples ability to choose freely what they can and can’t do. Health care and so forth. I am also thinking of going to school here, the school back home is quiet expensive and I can’t make it through without taking on some debt. Please if you can share your thoughts.

    But anyway, thank you again. I hope to read some more of your articles but I believe you already touched on a lot of the roots of Filipino inability. Thank you again hope to hear from you soon.

    1. @Jerrelle

      Thanks for reading. I’m glad you found GRP.

      One thing you should understand is that most Filipinos do not celebrate individuality. Being different is frowned upon. One advice I can give you is to keep a low profile. If you want to do something you know would raise eyebrows, do not announce your plans before doing it. This way you don’t have to explain yourself. Some people can be really nosy. 🙂

  13. who said it is not allowed to be different? china? marcos? fools! u referring to what sample of society? it is entirely allowed to criticize but is also allowed to criticize the critic. idiots!

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