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A dialogue with Jim Paredes
26 Jul 2006

[This exchange transpired in the blog post "Balance sheet so far" on Jim Paredes's blog Writing on Air.]

Jim said...

[...]benign0--i read a bit of the Nasty article and did not proceed. One is, I could not find any compassion coming from him considering he was quoting his Zen teacher all the time. I felt the venom he was spewing said more about him than about the subject.[...]

benign0 said...

Re Nasty: Do agree that this guy doesn't mince words and therefore can be construed as "lacking in compassion". But then one thing I have always noted with Pinoys is that we are ruled by emotion and sentimiyento rather than regard things with a critical and logical mind.

If we sift through the "venom" that Nasty "spews" we will find much truth and well-thought-out insight on the character of our society.

Maybe from this we can acquire a bit of perspective on why we as a people have collectively failed to prosper considering that our country abounds in individual talent.

If we routinely ignore a message simply because it comes across as "lacking in compassion", then we risk missing out on some cold truths that could provide us the proper insight on what path our society may need to take.

Jim said...

It wasn't so much lacking in compassion as it was idiotic because it had such a narrow Anmerican First world condescending view of things.I merely mentioned it was lacking in compassion because I was trying to be kind. He also made sure he distanced himself from where he came from which I thought was pathetic. Biglang 'your country' na siya..

The last thing the Philippines needs is another armchair know-it-all who looks down arrogantly and claims he has diagnosed correctly all the ills of our complex country from a high-chair acquired through citizenship. Now, if he has ever served in any capacity in any NGO or any humble public service position, or has thoroughlu studies Philippine history or has read papers and scholarly work on the situation, I may spend time reading what he has to say. As for me, his are the rantings of someone who has no deep insight that reflect the shalowness of acquired affectations from his colonial master.

Let's light a candle than just continuing to curse the darkness. Or do you think more bashing and self-immolation is what we need? It's not that we can't take the truth, it's time to stop hitting ouselves on the head over something we know already. In the end, nakakatulong ba siya? I don't think so.

benign0 said...

Jim, my point exactly. We are quick to perceive this "condescending" tone yet we fail to note objectively the nature of the content of Nasty's letter.

But let's say for argument's sake that Nasty actually meant to be conscending. The sad but cold fact of the matter is that condescension is a natural human response towards something that consistently fails. And, for that matter, entities that consistently fail (and become defensive of said failure) develop a predisposition towards finding condescenion in the tone of otherwise logically sound arguments.

And failing to find an equally objective counter-argument, we tend to shrink back to the comfy world of credentialism; i.e. using the messengers' credentials (or in this case, perceived lack of credentials) as the basis for a validation or, in this case, invalidation of his/her expressed views. Let's not forget that some of the most be-credentialled public officials in the land (graduates of the best schools, in fact) were responsible for running our beloved country to the ground.

Note that Nasty has lived most of his life in the Philippines, which in fact makes him amply qualified to articulate a view of the issues that plague Pinoy society (just as an NGO dude or a "humble public servant" is qualified in your book to make take a stab at a similar analysis).

Jim said...


My point exactly. It is condescending that is why it is counterproductive. If he REALLY wanted to change things by writing thst, he fails because he has no understanding of human nature.,. People respond more postively to inspiration than expletives. Kaya sa palagay ko, it's not gonna change a thing except perhaps make him feel good that he decided to change citizenship. As I said before, it is sad that people get their feel high and mighty fix by being trashing others. It wasn't about the article. There was nothing new there to digrest. it was about him.

Speaking of inpiration, Gawad Kalinga has not uttered any condemnation of anybody but has done more for the Philippines than all of the condescending attitudes and actions put together.. Tama ng salita. Talk is cheap. Walk the talk. Has he? nuf said!

benign0 said...


People do respond positively to "inspiration" which has quite a New Age ring to it if you ask me. However it is one thing to "respond" and it is another to achieve. Achievement has very uncompromising standards. You either get it right or you get it wrong. When you get it wrong, you can "inspired" to try again to get it right. But at the moment, by the stringent standards of what it means to achieve, you have it wrong until you get it right. We enroll our kids in the Ateneo, for example because the Ateneo kicks out students who fail to meet the Ateneo's standards. I don't think any parent would want their kids to be part of a learning institution that coddles losers.

If a surgeon get's it wrong, a patient dies. He can go to an "inspirational" talk or therapy regime to deal with his error and be "inspired" to do great things again despite this loss, but the fact of the matter is, a patient died because of his previous ineptitude. Likewise, a lot of damage has been done to Pinoy society because we collectively did things the wrong way. We have to hold ourselves to certain standards of achievement and that means coming to terms with really fundamental realities about the nature of our society.

Gawad Kalinga is doing a lot of great things. It is working on the current situation and building from there. In fact, all of us are working towards the future based on the current situation we are in. we don't need to make a distinction between a "humble public servant" and a well-paid white collar worker. Nobody can be presume to judge who is contributing more or less to Pinoy society. But one thing is certain. For an action to yield sustainable outcomes there must be a clear understanding of the problems. We cannot solve the problems of our society unless we face and understand the true nature of our issues.

No-one is saying that Nasty had the best intentions. In fact, I do not disagree that he wrote that letter to serve his personal interests. But his intentions have nothing to do with the trueness or falseness of his message which is something that needs to be critically evaluated on its logical merit in a way that is divorced from the writer's intentions.

Jim said...

East is east and west is west, benign0. If you are moved by what he says, then good for you. I am simply not. I am not moved to action by condescension and pontification. Venom doesn't imnspire me. Maybe you are. Good for you. You've done your share in trying to convinvce me of nasty's 'great truth' and qualifications and why I should take it seriously.I think it is vapid, shallow, and stating the obvious in a ranting manner. Ang daming commentators na ganyan sa radio sa manila. Sinco sang docena. He's just another one na magaling mag-ingles. Ho hum. He is not the prophet that will save the Philippines.

Don't take it upon yourself to try harder to convince me otherwise. Is it important for you that I see it the way you see it? Sorry, I can't. Or is it just important to you to have the last say?

I don't think I have anymore to say. I don't really want my blog to be as political as it can seem to get at times. Besides, this whole nasty thing was rather off topic to start with. Good day mate.

benign0 said...

"Or is it just important to you to have the last say?"

Jim, this is not about "having the last say". It is about resolving contrasting ideas through candid discussion. To be fair of course, this Western concept of resolving thesis and anti-thesis through critical discussion may be alien to the Pinoy mind.

Firstly, in the Philippines, people who beg to differ are easily silenced by seniority and authority. In Australia or most Western societies, you will find that if giving out unsatisfactory answers/responses will only invite more challenging questions (maybe when you actually do start working closely with the locals, you will actually experience this thing). Certainly even store clerks and public servants will not be beyond talking down to someone if they feel they are being given lip service or patronising responses by someone in authority. People here (or at least those who think) will not let you off easy if they are not satisfied by a view you express in response to them.

Second, this is not about politics. I don't recall bringing up anything "political" in my comments here. This is more about an observation and a discussion on said observation.

Anyways, I'm sorry to see you fly off the handle that way [referring to some of Jim's responses to other "anonymous" commentors that have since been deleted]. I'll be sure to try to post in a more respectful way (the Pinoy-style way you are comfortable with) in the future (if you will still have me).


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