The Philippines: a country governed by people who reflect the society that elected them

Does the solution to the multitude of ills that plague the Philippines reside in politics? Is it really the quality of government that is behind the chronic failure that is the Philippine nation? Think again.

[Photo courtesy Today in History.]

Perhaps there was a time when there were lots of scapegoats that Filipinos can count on to account for the wretched state of their society. First it was colonial imperialism — yes, that much-loved evil bogeyman that Filipinos finger as the perpetrators of the wholesale “victimisation” of their ancestors. The “scourge” of imperialism as we know now is gone (one can argue that it isn’t considering the way Filipinos’ independence and sovereignty itself remains debatable, but that’s another topic in itself), but the Philippines remains as degenerate as it was during its colonial periods. Then there was the “tyranny” of the regime of former president Ferdinand E. Marcos. That too eventually ended, but the now renowned failure to launch of the Philippine nation persists like a stubborn rash.

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So much for those excuses. Becoming “free” and practicing true “democracy” was pitched as the “new hope” of a nation “long victimised” by the forces of authoritarianism and imperialism. We now have both “freedom” and “democracy”. But prosperity and justice still elude us.

What democracy really achieved for Filipinos was to prove once and for all that the real underlying problem of their society had more to do with their cultural character. One “promising” president after another was “elected”. They came and went and left the same hollow shell of a nation they inherited from their predecessors. The uncomfortable reality became evident: representative democracy gave us governments and leaders that more accurately reflected the character of the people that elected to be subject to and led by these respectively.

In short, “true” democracy as applied by Filipinos did, indeed, bring out the TRUTH about Filipinos — that Filipinos are inherently unjust thieving liars. Those three traits are traits Filipinos seem to like to attribute to their politicians. The trouble is, in a democracy where leaders are elected by popular vote, any finger you point at government is ultimately a finger that points back at the electorate.

As the eminent United State President Abraham Lincoln invoked:

that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

We can thank the perpetrators of the 1986 Edsa “revolution” for turning the Philippines back into a country that lives up to those ideals. Unfortunately what simply won’t perish from this earth is the reality that there is something profoundly inherent in Filipinos — the Filipino Condition — that rubs off on their politicians, specially now that the ordinary Pinoy wields absolute power over the composition of their government. It will take many more generations and a prayer before this condition that dooms an entire society to muddle along in mediocrity for the foreseeable future is purged from its cultural DNA. Before that happens, we can only expect more of the same sort of politicians to rule these sad islands — the same sort who possess the same traits of the very people who voted for them.

Will the Philippines become a better nation given the right leader? Perhaps. But how does the “right” leader come to power to begin with? That is the real issue. In a nation where the wrong arguments always win, this hypothetical “right” leader does not stand a chance of being elected. And that is the tragedy that is the Philippine Nation — a country that is 100 percent “potential” and zero percent realisation.

44 Replies to “The Philippines: a country governed by people who reflect the society that elected them”

  1. i love reading your posts….and i agree with you that filipino culture and the attitude of pinoys is the main reason why genuine change is unlikely to happen on this country that is always on a downward spiral.

    1. Kaya d maunlad ang Pilipinas ay dhl kay Gloria,dinaya nya kasi ang eleksyon n0ong 2004 at ipinagpatuloy ang korupSyon sa gobyernO, kta naman sa Garci tapes at ang electioN returns na mula Maguinadanao na nktang walang bumoto kay FPJ. Buti nandyan na si Tito Noy n unti unti ibinaBalik ang tapat na gobyern0.

        1. Hindi niya talaga na gets ang message the article is conveying. Sila yata ang dahilan, mga bobotante

      1. Hahahaha XD. Can you explain about the 7.6 GDP increase during her administration, And yes, Noynoy is there to DESTROY this country by urging everyone to ignore the rule of law as a means to ‘fight corruption’.

        In reality, you have a corrupted mind at all. Ayaw mo lang aminin. 😛

    2. i certainly agree with you! that is why i didn’t vote for whom i know has no guts to lead… unlike most of our kababayans….

    3. Dont forget about those trashy telenovelas that majority of the people watch. The society emulate what they watch. Everyone finds someone to blame. No Personal Accountability. If A Govt OFFICIAL screws up, well too bad. Let the people suck it up kind of attitude and look at the results. A Dysfunctional society run by incompetent Nimkompoops and embiciles. For the Society and the mindset of the people to change. I THINK CIVIL WAR is the only option. Ubusan ng Lahi. FILIPINOS i THINK are sensible people just kinda misguided. I GUESS for watching too many telenovelas?

  2. hindi magbabago ang buhay sa pinas hangang may kurap na politiko at gahaman na negosyante ..kahit sino ang maging presidente kapag hindi nakiisa ang mga politiko ay walang mangyayaring pagbabago sa pinas

    1. hindi magbabago ang takbo ng pamumuhay mo kung hindi mo sisimulan na baguhin ang sarili mo…
      subukan mo kaya na maging responsableng mamamayan ng Plipinas at sikapin mo na paunlarin ang sarili mo…hindi yung puro ka paninisi sa gobyerno…

      1. I believe that Michael Jackson was thinking about the Philippines when he wrote “Man In The Mirror.”

        I’m Starting With The Man In
        The Mirror
        I’m Asking Him To Change
        His Ways
        And No Message Could Have
        Been Any Clearer
        If You Wanna Make The Philippines
        A Better Place
        Take A Look At Yourself And
        Then Make That Change!

        You Gotta Get It Right, While
        You Got The Time
        ‘Cause When You Close Your
        Then You Close Your . . .

        Sorry for my poor attempt at humor…

  3. Reasons why Filipinos fails collectively…

    1. Mis-attribution of Blame
    most Filipinos have someone or something to blame even for the slightest mishaps. We often point our fingers upon others or sometimes upon ourselves instead of expending efforts to make things right.

    2. Fear of failure / Rejection. We may not reach peak performance because we often avoid the really important challenges in life for fear of failure, or by being ridiculed for failures.

    3. Lack of Confidence / Over Confidence
    Lack of confidence can melt away our ability to get the expected results. Conversely, persons with too much self confidence may not know when to admit they are in need of self improvement.

    4. Excessive Dependency.
    Most Filipinos expect others to do for them what they ought to be doing themselves, and are unable to decide for the fear of facing the consequences of our actions.

    5. Excessive Feeling of Guilt
    Most of us spend more time and resources feeling sorry for our mistakes than expending the effort necessary to overcome the problem. Some of us let personal difficulties interfere grossly with our lives. During the course of life, we can expect some real joys and some real sorrows. It is an inevitable fact of life that we must respect and be prepared for. Maintaining a proper perspective is often difficult, though it is the only way to overcome difficulties.

    1. I agree 100% with your opinion that Filipinos are incapable of taking responsibility and blame others for their shortcomings. Also, they are terribly dependent. I believe that Filipino Pride encompasses everything that is wrong with the culture. Filipinos need to learn that it is ok to be ashamed.

    2. BULLSEYE!!! Very True in every word. 1 and 4 is the most fitted description of Filipino life. Majority don’t want to take personal responsibility and majority are leeches spineless wimps. The Philippine people unless drastic change can be implemented will never change. Filipinos just like to embrace CHAOS AND DRAMA in their lives. The more chaos the better. Instead of finding ways to improve their lives. Majority will find a way to con people or worse relatives. Your own Blood. Very despicable. Hell, my mom became the piggy bank of her brothers and sisters. Instead of standing up for yourself and your self worth. SELF RELIANCE IS AN ALIEN CONCEPT. i GUESS Thats why the Philippines is like what it is. Country run by Primadonnas. The majority had no say. This looks familiar. CAN I SAY The time of Louis XVI and Maria Antoinette.

  4. Say benigs, wasn’t it also Abraham Lincoln to whom the following quote is attributed to:

    “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

    And look at the state of the Philippines now: a house divided against itself.

    The kamot-ulo reflex of Filipinos when things turn out unfavorable for them is very telling. Why do we show an inability and ineptitude to learn from our mistakes?

    Does some big catastrophe have to come along and make our society crash so that our stupid Filipino ego finally gets pricked? So that we can finally rebuild our cultural character towards the right path?

  5. This is the sad truth about our country as a whole. Yes, we had democracy but thanks to most gullible Filipinos (mostly Yellow Zombies), democracy here is abused. It was treated as a spectator sport. There is no such thing as democracy if it was a mob rule.

    As one friend stated this: We can never move forward as a country if apelyidos, athletes and artistas always matter.

    ‘Tal pueblo, tal gubierno.’ -Jose Rizal

  6. Our political leaders do not serve the interests of the people. They serve themselves; their cronies; and their families…this is the reason, we have political family dynasties. Monopoly of power , is their agenda. We , the Filipino people can only solve these problems. Germany was defeated; but , its people came out from its World War II defeat; and became a better nation. They faced and accepted their mistakes in the Holocaust. Japan was defeated. However, it also became a better nation. Prosperous and contributor of advanced technology…People determines the course of their nation…leaders are just a part of it…

  7. This is all B.S. There has NEVER been a CLEAN AND HONEST elections since 1967. 1971 was fairly clean because of the COMELEC Chair at that time. Afterwards, it has been horrible.

    It is difficult to have good leaders if the votes are not counted – by the very COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, with the collusion of its citizens arm- NAMFREL and various MEDIA COUNTS.

    Let there be cheating in election spending or guns, goons and gold. But at least, COUNT THE VOTES!

    And now we have COMPUTERS! It made cheating so much easier. Just ask the hackers! Counting votes from the cyber air – it’s so much faster!

    1. Agreed. We’ve been corrupt since i dunno perhaps even way through the pre-colonial times. Power is pretty much held most important in our culture. We were already divided among ourselves then. The real problem is- there isn’t an influential group of people who want to contest that old mold and lead others a new way of running the country.

  8. in a democratic country, the best capitalist will always position themselves to be in the side of the people…and then screw the people when they got hold of power in the government
    democratic system will not work…it is a system that recognizes only the majority…once you get 51% all bets are down and the remaining 49% minority will be left at the mercy of the 51% majority so that there will always be 2 opposing factions, however, majority always wins…
    Politicians are always motivated solely by “SELF INTEREST” which, in economic form, is “CAPITALISM”…
    bottom line…the oligarch, (capitalist) motivated by self interest will position himself to be in the side of the people to win the support of the majority and get hold of power…and once in power, screw the very people who elected them to satisfy his self interest…

    1. Philippines is better suited being run through social democracy rather than liberal democracy. Liberal democracy has given reign greed which has long been plaguing majority of people’s lives who rely for such really meagre wages and pay so much for privatised education, which should have been given free regardless of their socio-economic status to lessen the mass ignorance and national folly running amok.

      What these pseudo-liberal oligarchs don’t want is equity, and it will always be about who has much more money and influence/charm to lord over. Liberal democracy? *Coughs then spit* If you’ve read about the history of liberalism you know that their concern has always been for their profits- so the whole idea of liberal democracy (makes so much sense now) is actually to give these particular group who have the means of production to have the FREEDOM of property, individuality (yeah self interest alright), and not to be lorded over by anyone INCLUDING THE STATE.

      Look at capitalism in Europe and US now. Time will come that there won’t be much natural resources left because it’s been depleted and eventually production line will stop because of this shortage. We’ll see in 50 years time if this trend will change.

    2. one more thing, we are a country where most of the laws are based on “MORAL” (religious) considerations rather than “LEGAL” (reasonable) consideration…the christian majority (controlled by the oligarchs) runs the show and sells itself to the highest bidder…
      and the “religious masses” bounded by their religious obligations, blindly adheres to whatever their religious masters (oligarch) tells them…(without thinking)

    3. I think everyone has some form of self-interest. Government is there to keep people from going at each other’s throats because of self-interest. Your vote is based on your self-interest — better economy = stronger spending power = more goods to your account.

      Politicians and political parties are supported by businessmen because it makes sense to be close to the people who run things. Old money Oligarchs saw sense in going into politics as some form of business integration. Why go with a middleman politician when your family can do it for you? The entrenched political clans came from these old money families, right? To add spice to the Philippine mix, you have your new money politicians, intent to amass possessions, like the old money families.

      I don’t think it’s “democracy” that’s at fault. Maybe it’s the framework of democracy that we’re using in this country. Maybe it’s time for a checkup of the constitution.

  9. Ban the practice of all religions. That crap about the infallibility of the word of god being the superior law as against the law made and written by man is I think one major reason why we are not moving. We always seek for favorable divine intervention to make up for our habitual mistakes both in electing the same politicians and in asking for divine forgiveness and forget about guilt later whenever we offend others.

    1. Man, if you must bash religion (which is clearly not the topic here) you shouldn’t take it collectively. If you are talking about the role of the roman catholic in our history then you make it clear. Because the way I see it, the roman catholic church have always had its share of power over the nation from the spanish time until now.

      BTW, roman catholic is not a religion but only a religious sect. Muslim, buddhism, taosm, christianism, etc., thats religion.


  10. I sort of believe that policies dictate the kind of behavior you want to have.

    Maybe Pinoys should get an annual cash dividend if the economy performs. That’ll get them thinking about the economic skills of who’s at the helm.

    No annual cash dividend for citizens = impeachable offense.

    Crazy idea.

    Change in culture? How much change? Which items? Do they all have to change at the same time? Is it even possible to change by phases?

    1. Hnd maganda yan dhl uunlad tayo kay Tito Noy at malulugi ang gobyernO, kung ke Gloria naman yan, dErecho sa knyang bulsa

      1. Yada yada yada.

        I appreciate you taking time to reply to my comment. Pero kung yan lang sasabihin mo, maybe it’s better to just keep your thoughts to yourself.

        I don’t need a reminder about PNOY and GMA. I don’t like them pareho. I’m tired of looking at personalities.

      2. Noynoy’s bigger pork barrel can be considered as ‘derecho sa bulsa’ because he is using it to bribe the Congress.

        Hindi tayo uunlad sa Tito Noy unless he will man up. He is becoming stupid each and every day when he urged to the people of Mindanao to get over with the daily brownouts, which you enjoy a lot.

        Oh yeah, MANY are now complaining. Only YOU who prefers a president who just nurtures their family name in the political history and DOES NOT WANT TO SERVE AND TO LEAD.

        Request for permanent blocking and deletion. This man has no place in this site

  11. True.. true.. true.
    The people can’t do much for the country after the elections, as it is the government that has power over the taxes we pay.
    What happens is that the people ALWAYS seem to be too lazy to think, and is contented to feed off the media, on who to vote for.
    Take our current president, for example. He didn’t perform in congress. He didn’t perform in the Senate. Yet, the people didn’t bat an eyelash when he was declared president after a very questionable electronic election (with zero safeguards against cheating).
    Now we’re being entertained by a stupid impeachment trial, Pnoy/Grace Lee failed romance, and the humorous Philippine Navy going against a speck of the Chinese Navy (thanks to the present government’s lack of diplomatic know-how).
    Until the people wakes up, the corrupt will always win, the poor will grow in numbers, and we will all be forever slaves to the oligarchs. Then you have people like this Vicenzo Arellano who claps for them like trained seals.

    1. politics, the way it is in the Philippines, is a body of stupid rules and unruly rulers..the previous created by the later…HELL, we will never ever get out of it…

  12. The Filipinos for the most part do not care about the country as a whole when they vote for a leader – they care about whether they can benefit individually from voting for the leader, or vote based on belief in a leader as some sort of personal savior. Just like the immediate followers of datus and rajas in the past who hoped to have their share of the loot, and the slaves who felt mystical allegiance. Something that sort of worked when there were less people on those islands with an overabundance of resources and when the world was less connnected than today, but which is going to be fatal sooner or later.

  13. It matters not that others still write negatives about P-Noy. Did they write about his predecessors’ plunders? This president is doing all his best to reduce corruption. He never said that he will eradicate it for that is just saying that one can eradicate rats,,,
    pun intended astehre are still lurking beneath government halls and its walls. P-Noy, carry on and spray them all with anti rats,,

    1. I repeat: if he’s serious about anti-corruption, then he should include himself, and everybody. How about the lower ones? Why does he and his family get away with Hacienda Luisita.

      He’s a rat himself. Deal with it. Please stop your Yellow nonsense. 😛

    2. *yawns* Oh please spare us your yellow bullshit. We all know for a fact that aquino is only targeting his political enemies while protecting his kkk. If he is really doing something about it then why is corruption still rampant UNDER his administration? Why is he doing NOTHING to stop his corrupt kkk’s wrong doings? And why are you still protecting him so desperately?

    3. Bing, Noynoy makes himself out to be a saint when he is not. He does not have a monopoly on virtue or intelligence. I will accept that he is a charlatan and a fraud though.

  14. When the country has slipped in the world corruption index in the past 3 years and is now classified as a ‘flawed democracy’ by the United Nations then clearly p-noy is out of his depth and should go back to his previous job – of doing nothing.
    Oligarchs, like leopards, do not change their spots

  15. The sad reality here is people who read, understand and participate in this blog are vastly out numbered by the ignorant and easily swayed. Remember, the majority of the people of this country think smart people are evil elitists who dont believe in God. They almost voted a former impeached president back to power! Crazy times.

  16. don’t blame the people too much, they suffered enough. The problem is true to everyone in this world, but more true in our country because politicians know they can get away with it. IMHO, the solutions are, transparency… follow the money ( goverrnment budget) from the top all the way down to the barangay level, use the internet, radio, television or even social media like FB to follow the trail. Every public official financial transaction should be made public all the time, if you want to serve the people, otherwise go do something else. Lastly, we need an independent, foreign auditing body to do regular review of our money. It is all about money and greed and the lack of punishment. Stealing from the people money should be punished severely and without political pardon. Stop blaming politicians, culture, religion or ourselves… it is the system, s#####.

  17. Marcos era is the only era that philippines was known worldwide. Where white nations didn’t expect Marcos that such person in such country posses superb intellect, he lift Filipino people up, second to Great Japan. And what Filipinos do?because of lack of understanding and ignorance they oust him. So let me ask one thing, did Philippines acheive more after Mrcos era?obviously N-O-T-H-I-N-G

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