Why Enabling Steps Are Not Enough

Political dilettantes talk about “enabling steps” because that’s all they know.

Most people can’t tell how a chess game will go simply just by looking at the opening game.  I think it’s actually the middle game that determines a great game from a mediocre one and the greatness of the game is not seen in who wins — but how it is won.

I believe there is a lot more to chess than simply winning, and I think, the bigger thrill is in watching how one player’s move challenges the other and how the other player surmounts the challenge.

The way I look at it, people playing chess are in a way collaborating on a performance of sorts — like a dance or maybe even a renga.  Seeing it this way, the opening plays are more like starting postures or a first line, after which follows movements or successive lines which cull from a deep knowledge of the rules and other masterfully played games or other rengas.

While this dance can happen early in the game, in my opinion, it is in the middle game where the real dance or exchange of lines of poetry become most interesting.  You can predict how opening games will go from the first few moves, but you can hardly predict the middle game and that’s where, potentially, something new can emerge or at least some unexpected move will be deployed that will change the entire game.

Perhaps it is this idea about chess that led Russian chess grand master Vladimir Kramnik to say, “In chess one cannot control everything. Sometimes a game takes an unexpected turn, in which beauty begins to emerge. Both players are always instrumental in this.”

peacock show us your willyMost people can be masters at chess game openings.  The funniest one are those who execute opening games with a flourish, then preen themselves brazenly in public, holding up imaginary peacock trains to advertise their supposed intellectual superiority.

They may even have pretty looking boys or girls cheering them on — if at all that is allowed in a serious chess game.

The punchlines comes when the game transitions into the middle game and that is when most bluffers will reveal their ineptitude with blunder after blunder.

In a way, this situation can make for a good analogy of what is happening to the Philippines economically and politically.

Some would say that our venture into “self-government” is littered with examples of pretty good opening games and some might say that this is manifested in the number of Philippine constitutions we have had plus the one that we are currently using.  I would tend to agree with this view because opening games are all about setting up the play and constitutions are all about laying down the rules that will guide the people in governing themselves.

Now, 26 years or so after the ratification of a new Philippine constitution, there are certain sectors who believe that the basic rules or that the new opening game embarked upon isn’t working to our advantage or achieving what it is supposed to do.

Granting that it can be sufficiently demonstrated that the constitution has its flaws, how we will fare with a completely new or amended constitution is given to much speculation.  The speculations made for changes in the constitution can turn out to be accurate or inaccurate depending on the factors you account for and one’s understanding of the dynamic created by the interaction of these factors.

The thing is as far as accounting for factors are concerned, a certain club of self-proclaimed constitutional change advocates fail to include one of the most important factors in determining the outcome of any proposed political or economic change: People.

In “changing the system” this tribe of dilettantes have focused completely on the “rules of the game” and have forgotten completely about “the players”.  Being ensconced in their idealism and naivete, these gang of jokers parade around cyberspace with their idea of change seemingly assuming that people will rationally just follow the rules that are supposedly better suited for them.

Okay, where’s the evidence of that happening?  How many of the politicians running in this year’s election broke election rules?  How many millions of Filipinos will sell their votes?

In the Corona impeachment trial, wasn’t a major part of it just about one side or another arguing about rules?  How did our senator judges fare? How did Corona fare?

Its one thing to read about the parliamentary form of government, federalism, and the liberalization of foreign investment; but it’s a whole completely different ball game to make it function and deliver the intended results.

The dilettantism among this group of bums and moochers who are forever on Facebook or Twitter is quickly revealed when you ask them this question: Okay, so if we all wake up the next day and find that the Philippine government has been re-organized into a parliament, who will the leaders be?

They almost always sidestep this one question because the answers flies in the face of all their claims that the parliamentary system will deliver better governance.

The answer is here:

Politics in the Philippines has been under the control of a few notable families. It is normal for a politician’s son, wife, brother, or other kinsman, to run for the same or other government office. The term coined by Filipinos to describe this practice is “Political dynasty”, the equivalent of an oligarchy in political science.


And guess who supports the idea of a parliamentary shift?  You can look at the names on this list here and just to stress my point, I’ll mention a couple of prominent people after this paragraph:

Florencio Abad

Manuel “Mar” Roxas

Juan Ponce Enrile

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Juan Miguel Zubiri

Edgardo Angara

Confronted with this, all the political newbies have as a response is: in a parliament, people vote for parties… parties will root out ineffective members… the shadow opposition government will police erring members of the party in power… yada… yada… yada…

The response basically props up one set of speculation with another set of speculation or assumptions.

Those who are still supporting the idea of a parliamentary shift as a solution to ending the oligarchy need to think things through because evidence worldwide shows that political dynasties AREN’T INHIBITED in parliamentary governments and there are a number of reasons for this thinking which I’ll write out in the next post.

One question is: In forming a party that will win or dominate the parliament, isn’t it logical that the party takes on members who can assure votes in their district?

(First of Two Parts)


Post Author: Paul Farol

Try not to take me too seriously.

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47 Comments on "Why Enabling Steps Are Not Enough"

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In chess, there are rules like the pawn can only go forward two spaces on its first move . Your typical Pinoy has no regard for order whatsoever . Hence warped sense of competition. Entitled to victory. Internally cheat like mad. Internationally you either fail in face of real competition or you grasp at straws at somebody with 1/32nd Filipino blood. Pinoys lack discipline and it shows.


p-noy playing political chess is like someone who doesn’t know how the ‘horsey thing’ moves.
if binay had a better campaign and campaign manager p-noy would be mated by a fools gambit.
not that i would advocate a binaysty come 2016 either.
a paucity of options and no grand masters in politics.

In chess the rules are fixed and the outcome unpredictable, in philippine politics the rules are flexible and the outcome predictable.

Hyden Toro

I’m Hocus PCOS. Checkmate na ang election. Brillantes is the lone player. It is Brilliancy move: Hinocus PCOS ang election…

Hyden Toro

I’m Hocus PCOS. Checkmate na ang election. Brillantes is the lone player. It is Brilliancy move: Hinocus PCOS ang election…

Johnny Derp

Now that the elections are finally over, I guess the next thing that our politicians will do is to start campaigning for the 2016 elections.
No doubt that aquino will become a lame duck president before the 2016 elections since the cycle of traditional politics is starting again.
No amount of yellow propaganda, trolling will ever change that fact.

Paul Farol (@paulfarol)
Paul Farol (@paulfarol)

When the personal attacks come out, that’s when you know that you’ve won an argument.

Such a great morning!


Underneath all the “bobo” calling, Orion has a point.

The author’s chess metaphor reminds me of how I learned the game of chess and the people I encountered/competed against with which are similar to the ones you allude as some people who just learned a repertoire of chess tricks. Without formal training, I learned the rules of chess when I was about 7 or 8 years old from my 11 year old brother who also learned from our cousin who is about twice his age. When I have grasped the fundamentals, I started playing and beating twice or thrice my age on the streets, larong kanto style. The furthest… Read more »