Filipinos: like a ship lost at sea searching for a beacon

Introduction 

When I visited Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia last year, I saw a banner run across the two Petronas towers with the following words in Malay on it:

Daulat Tuanku 

As soon as I could, I searched on Google what this phrase means. It is more or less the Malay equivalent of the English expression “Long live the King!” that used to be proclaimed in old Western monarchies.

To get up to speed with the federal monarchy system of Malaysia, click here.

I have read blogs and reports that Malaysia’s head of state has changed recently.  The rule of the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong just began this month. To our Malaysian friends, may your new head of state guide you with wisdom, justice, and compassion. Frankly, I hope some of it rubs off on our head of state at the same time.

This write-up, however, is not intended to be a commentary on the politics and people of Malaysia. Instead, it is about a sequence of three (3) totally random thoughts which came to mind after remembering the above, and which I will elaborate on below.  Note: they are all about the Philippines.

The concept of nobility in the Philippines 

In Tagalog/Filipino, we have more or less an equivalent to Daulat Tuanku. Mabuhay ang Pangulo/Presidente ng Pilipinas! (Long live the President of the Philippines)! Doesn’t ring a bell? Be honest with yourself: can you scream this at the top of your lungs, without absolutely any second thoughts or impending feeling of disgust whatsoever? If you can, good for you. If not, you’re in good company with many other Filipinos who find that their loyalty to their head of state is not as absolute as it should be.

In monarchies, you will find two concepts that seem alien to us Filipinos but in fact have mutated into sinister forms here: noblesse oblige, and lese-majeste.  Noblesse oblige, literally nobility obliges, is a guiding principle for descendants of nobility to act accordingly with their status, e.g., to help those less fortunate. Lese majeste, on the other hand, is a principle wherein criticizing the ruler of the monarchy is a strictly prohibited crime. It is considered an offense to the dignity of a sovereign or state.

Noblesse oblige is supposed to be a good thing. Uncle Ben in Spiderman said it best: with great power comes great responsibility.  However, as only in the Philippines proves, it turned into something detestable. The first manifestation: the privileged in our society use their position and power to make themselves even more powerful and richer. A clear example: the oligarchs. The second manifestation: balato mentality and mendicancy.  There are many Filipinos who, after seeing another person with money that they don’t have, immediately feel some sort of inggit (envy) and can’t help but say “pa-burger ka naman“ (buy me a burger), as if it’s their entitlement to be treated. It’s so disgusting it makes me want to stuff those bills in their mouths. Gusto mo pala ng balato ha (So, you want a dole-out, hmm?). Mendicancy – the more you help certain Filipinos financially, the more they cling to you like you’re a blessing from above to them (hulog ng langit). Need I say more? Eh kung ihulog kaya kita sa bangin para matauhan kang kumayod? (What if I drop you in a ditch to convince you to work hard?)

That's not a Sieg Heil; that's L for Loser.

We don’t need any lese-majeste laws here in the Philippines; the ostracism that critics to the Aquino administration face from Noytards can make jail time seem tame by comparison. “You don’t support Noynoy? You are a paid-hack. You are a disgrace to the Philippines and its people!” Needless to say, we don’t have a royal family here in the Philippines but all these pathetic Aquino sympathizers worship that family like one. Hell, they even worship Noynoy Aquino and his mother as divine beings that could never do wrong. PNoy himself is not exactly very forthcoming about his mistakes either; at least the King of Thailand has accepted that criticism is vital to improving the monarchy.  Note that Thailand has some of the strictest lese-majeste laws in the world.

I believe that one of the responsibilities of people of privilege is to help bring about stability to their respective societies. This brings me to the second random thought.

Status quo should not be mistaken for stability 

There are a few Aquino apologists who insist that PNoy is bringing about stability to the nation. You can be almost inclined to believe that, except for one thing. If it were real stability, how come many Filipinos still don’t feel that their lives are getting any better? Why did the prices of basic commodities and gasoline keep shooting up for quite some time? Why did transport groups necessarily have to ask for a fare increase?   Why is Mindanao unsatisfied with the solution presented to them with regards to their power situation?

Status quo and stability are two entirely different things. Implicit in the concept of ensuing stability is that some sort of upheaval necessarily precedes it. The race riots that happened in Malaysia in 1969 are such an example of this. While the New Economic Policy that was formulated after this was not perfect, it was one of many steps taken to ensure that Malaysia was on the road to a brighter future. Look where they are now.

In business circles, a question often asked is: how do you differentiate between a manager and leader? One of the most emphasized answers is that a leader creates positive change in an organization. Ask yourself: has PNoy created any positive change? Has he tried to quell all doubts about his decision making? How has he dealt with people who do not necessarily agree with his ideas? I can guess that many of you will answer: no, no, and he ignores them, respectively.  So in effect, PNoy is just maintaining the status quo: and he’s not even doing a good job at it.

It is often said that your character defines your leadership. PNoy was reluctant to run for the presidency in 2010. Read another way, I can infer that he wanted only to be left alone in his happy oligarchic life. Flash forward 2 years and change later, he still doesn’t look into it. The pictures that Malacañang had to run to counter the Noynoying fad are indicative of this. He seems to be wishing for the good ol’ days, in other words, the status quo.

Even without knowing the results of the psychiatric tests of PNoy, one can easily tell that he doesn’t seem very stable. Here is a guy telling everyone about coup attempts against him that even the military was not aware of. Here is a guy implying that he would throw another monumental tantrum if Chief Justice Corona is not convicted. So, how can you expect him to bring about stability?  The way he handled the Mindanao power situation and the aftermath of the summit is very telling. He basically told the people to shell out more money or live in hot darkness, and wagged his middle finger at them. The picture below says a lot about his stability and approach to solving the energy problem:

He's not posing for the camera; that's a NATURAL look.

If PNoy, and by extension, the Filipino people, is incompetent, mediocre, dense, narcissistic, extremely sensitive to criticism, unable to forget the past, unable to think out of the box, and unable to embrace change, then that makes you wonder about the following:

Saving grace: do Filipinos have any? 

Simply put, saving grace refers to any redeeming qualities that people have.
Filipinos are hospitable, friendly with a smile, compassionate, and very good with English compared with our neighbors. That gets them visitors in the door. The question is: are we able to maintain their interest and keep them in the room? Well, if your house is messy, dirty, stinky, and in a general state of disrepair, then you can expect your visitors to want out of the house as quick as possible.

PNoy, on the other hand, had a potential saving grace: a clean slate. His “hindi ako magnanakaw“ (I do not steal) platform in 2010 had a chance to make itself into something better and bigger had he substantiated it with an actual platform underneath. What came out, instead, was “galit ako sa magnanakaw ng lugar ng pamilya ko” (I am angry at those who steal the place of my family, in the spotlight). What came out instead was “ngunit hindi ko mapipigilan ang mga ibang magnanakaw“ (but I am unable to stop others from stealing). Taking a cue from one of my favorite Filipino essays, Emil Jacinto’s Ningning at Liwanag (Glare and Light), I can categorically say that many Filipinos were fooled by the glare into thinking it was the light.

Maybe PNoy has one current saving grace: that he is in fact, “saving Grace (Lee)” from an otherwise humdrum existence of not being attached to a politician (read: rich man).   The price she has to pay, of course, is that every time they see each other she has to deal with situations like the one below:

Mmm…baby, one more time? Please?

If the rumors are true that they’ve broken up, then PNoy has got to be crying in the corner again. “Can I really not do anything right?!”

Epilogue 

I want to bring back a little bit of discussion about Malaysia. Despite the similarity between our two countries (multi-cultural society, an ethnic Malay group whose aversion to work is a problem), it is very apparent that how the two countries turned out now is as different as chalk and cheese. I guess, to a certain extent, that you could say that the colonizers both countries had was a sort of luck of the draw. The Malaysians got the British, who were possibly the more notable colonizers, and arguably invested in preparing their former colonies for life without them. We, on the other hand, got the Spaniards, who brought about disease, simply looted and plundered their colonies, and kept up a general policy of keeping the indios illiterate and under their control.

It didn’t hurt that the ethnic Chinese in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and the Philippines, were all hard-workers themselves. The Bumiputra of the Malays and native Filipinos, have been described as lazy, and unwilling to take risks.

The Spaniards didn’t invent Juan Tamad nor Juan Tanga; they simply gave them names.

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About FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. - But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

Post Author: FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. - But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

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46 Comments on "Filipinos: like a ship lost at sea searching for a beacon"

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Bill Steffen
Guest

Great article!

Joe America
Guest
“Noblesse oblige is supposed to be a good thing. Uncle Ben in Spiderman said it best: with great power comes great responsibility.  However, as only in the Philippines proves, it turned into something detestable. ” I’m wondering how you differentiate hard criticism of the President with that of the coup masters of the past? Where down the slippery slope do you stop if you think the President is damaging? When does he go beyond damaging to dangerous or destructive? How do you ever, knowing the Filipino penchant for black and white judgments, for action with a gun, find stability? Status… Read more »
dude
Guest

What duh?!?

Hey, Mr. Joe!

Why is it ok when people mock Gloria Arroyo and her perceived allies to the point of persecuting them but it’s not ok to criticise PNoy?

You are such a hypocrite.

Anti-Yellow Guy
Guest

Excuse me! Did you even read the article? The President of the Philippines is not a king protected by lese majeste! He was elected by a bunch of morons, and being the representative of those morons, we have every right to criticize him. How could you say that he’s the living symbol of the country if a MINORITY put him into power in the first place anyway? And stop that crap about “dignity” and “respect” to protect the yellow one against criticism. Typical Filipino hypersensitivity! Bah!

benign0
Admin

Actually the non-dignity of the Filipino was exhibited when Noynoy was elected President. There was no dignity in electing to the highest office in the land the most unqualified, the least inspiring, the most inexperienced, and the least motivated among the candidates at the time.

Joe America
Guest

Well, that is your definition of non-dignified and is largely irrelevant to the fact that electorate found dignity in the image of goodness projected by his mother. That definition of dignity is what counts, for it got him elected. And history will record whether his mediocrity was right for the time and circumstances, or not. GRP, fortunately, is just a voice, not the judge.

benign0
Admin
As a “voice” or as a “judge”, what difference does it make? Does it even matter what label it is you slap on this site? It is what it is and we do what we do and our holy message reaches whomever it reaches. If my opinion is “irrelevant” to whatever “fact” of the matter that may happen to have come to pass then so be it. That doesn’t mean it will stop yet another such opinion from following either the next minute, tomorrow, or next week. Deal with it. It seems it is your preoccupation with what we are,… Read more »
dude
Guest

@Joe

“…dignity in the image of goodness projected by his mother.

And at your age you also got duped into believing that the dignified image of his mother was good enough to vote his son to the presidency. OMG!!!

What more evidence do you need this country is going to the dogs with PNoy around?

You’re just a troll Joe America. But unfortunately, losers like GabbyD, Cocoy and Manuel Buencamino hang on to the likes of you because you still go around justifying your support for PNoy.

dude
Guest

@Benign0

I noticed that Joe is just using GRP to get traffic for his site. He comes here spreading his links to his “it’s all about me” blogs so he can recruit more readers. What a loser!

He whines about not getting respect but he keeps writing negative stuff about GRP anyway. Hypocrite!

Joe America
Guest

benigno, well, I sort of have the idea that when a President warrants criticism, he ought to be criticized. And when a blog site pretends one thing but delivers another, it ought to be criticized. And when it delivers thought-provoking articles, it warrants commendation. And when commenters are allowed to make idiocy and insult the central theme, under the phony guise of being vibrant discussion, it warrants criticism.

perchance
Guest

come on you guys move on! hahaha

Bill Steffen
Guest

Joe has nothing but time on his hands to troll!!! Yes, he is a troll!!! I am so embarassed by him that I now tell folks I am Canadian

TaengGorbachev
Guest

The Philippines needs a totalitarian leader who can change the status quo. Not an authoritarian leader like Marcos, but totalitarians like Stalin and Hitler. At least those two are never corrupt(perhaps because of ideological reasons), and those two have acted on the problems of their countries during their times, and by such, their nations prospered… only that freedom was non-existent. Also, the right leaders, for the most part, can come through terror and not through peace…

christy
Guest
Why Stalin and Hitler? Stalin corrupted Communism in Russia and Hitler practised himself a very corrupted ideology combining Social darwinism with corrupted science called Eugenics. If I were our country’s leader who follows such concepts and beliefs, I would have banned everyone here who are always expressing their strong discontent for the government- no regrets k? I would have to exterminate my cousin who is autistic and my father who has diabetes because they’re deemed unproductive and I need strong, fit and able individuals to run and represent our ideal society. God forbid someone running for politics if he/she ever… Read more »
ahehe
Guest

*obligatory post of King Noy’s.gif benign0 edition*

benign0
Admin

Much obliged…

Bill Steffen
Guest

Hahahahahahaahah A Noy Burger King Commerciall

coolass
Guest

it is safe to say then that DEMOCRACY is the TYRANNY of the majority…

TaengGorbachev
Guest

And Plato was perhaps right. The majority can never really lead themselves properly… and this is the result…

Parallax
Guest

correct. (though technically, 15 million idiots out of 90+ million total isn’t a real majority)

Der Fuhrer
Guest
Watch the dictator wannabe BS Aquino as he continues his straight and wide path to perdition. Never before in Philippine history has a plague like him existed. He continues to do evil acts and examples. His cronies act with impunity. The Judiciary is being destroyed slowly. Eroded by people like Ms. Leila De Lima. Setting all the bad examples against the Judiciary. Her master in Malascanang has shown her the way. Crime is on the rise. Blackouts are coming again to Luzon and Visayas should the sleeping president continue his laid back style. Mindanao is now suffering rotating blackouts. The… Read more »
Aegis-Judex
Guest

And all this will not end well for all of us.

Concerned Citizen
Guest

@Der Fuhrer

So, the very popular closet queen of Philippine blogoshere is back.

How can we take your comments seriously, when you aren’t even honest with your sexuality?

Der Fuhrer
Guest

@Nutzi Concerned Citizen

Your ad hominem is duly noted. I said this before. I will say it again. I am confident of my true male sexuality. You on the other hand are acting like a flaming mariposa in heat.

hasik64
Guest

Noynoy Aquino IS the “fruit of the poisoned tree”. He can never be a genuine leader of the people.

Hyden Toro
Guest

There was a time in France, when King Louie XVI, proclaimed: “I am the State”…the French Jacobinist Revolutionary, did not agree with him. So, they cut his head with the French Guillotine, called : the National Razor. Kings, Queens, Nobles…although they still exist. I don’t agree with them. We are all born naked, and we will leave this world naked…Look at the face of Noynoy Aquino…it’s a Down Syndrome face…we have a President, who is not only mentally ill, but has also a Down Syndrome…Ah…Pobre Pilipinas…

jeanne
Guest

Actually the king who stated the ‘I am the State’ sayign was the great- grandfather of the king who got his head cut from his head. Funny, I read this phrase ‘We are all born naked’ from the autobiographical novel of the wife or queen to the king who got his head chopped off. Oh, she also lost her head.

Wonder if there will be a Philippine version of the French Revolution.

Clueless
Guest
@Fallen Angel, Again a nice read. “Long Live Fallen Angel!” hahahaha. Anyway just to add, I dont know how you can equate: Daulat Tuanku to Mabuhay ang Pangulo/Presidente ng Pilipinas! (Long live the President of the Philippines)! Reason 1: There is an unwritten convention (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitutional_convention_%28political_custom%29) that the Monarch does not get involve in politics. His role is to give his “Royal Assent” to all legislations passed by both Houses of Parliament. Your President is an elected political individual and is actively involved in the political process and as well as governing the country. His role is liken to that of… Read more »
Der Fuhrer
Guest

The captain of the ship of state is still sleeping. He charts the course of the ship. He sees to its safety and seaworthiness. There is no beacon of light in Mindanao. We might as well resign ourselves to the fact that the same blackouts may occur in Luzon and the Visayas. Here is a better view on dealing with the Chinese threat. Bring it to the UN.

http://www.malaya.com.ph/index.php/editorial/1810-time-to-go-to-the-un

Clueless
Guest
@Der Fuhrer, I just read the link you provided and what drew my attention was this: “The basic principle of ZOPFFC is that there is a need to segregate the disputed area from the non-disputes area. “What is ours is ours, and what is disputed can be shared,” he said. Asean was cool to the proposal which was understandable because of China’s strong influence on member countries through trade and investments. The Philippines tried again to include in ZOPFFC in the Asean summit in Pnom Penh early this month but host Cambodia refused to include it in the discussion. Other… Read more »
ChinoF
Member
You know, I’m beginning to have the impression that people who voted for Da Prez didn’t want a real leader at all. They just wanted someone who could keep out of their hair and allow them to live their shut-in lives. That’s why most of these voters are the middle and upper classes. They’re the types who wanted to be disturbed by government or any other responsibilities. They just want to live their extravagant lives sipping Starbucks or shopping for Pradas and Nine West products while chewing on Magnum. They wouldn’t care about the poor in the squatter areas or… Read more »
brianitus
Guest

PNoy was the feel-good decision for the voters. Remember how he was packaged? Once a candidate is seen as the Lesser Evil/ beacon of light, the candidate is almost a shoo-in. In the case of PNoy, he had a “saint” backing him up. Pinoys love miracles.

I guess the only miracle happening today is this: Pinoys haven’t risen up against the da Prez.

Clueless
Guest

@FallenAngel,

I found an column which I think you might like to read for general knowledge. It gives a brief but good overview of changes in Malaysia over a 42 years period.

http://thestar.com.my/columnists/story.asp?file=/2012/4/23/columnists/transformationblues/11139757&sec=transformationblues

Der Fuhrer
Guest

We have some technical problems. I can’t post. Why?

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