Deus ex machina: The Filipino’s Simplistic Mindset

Looking back to the events that transpired in the course of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment trial, it could be said that major highlights concerned envelopes. First, we had witnessed the amusing incident involving a certain “small lady” who, according to prosecutor Reynaldo Umali’s story, gave him an envelope which contained Corona’s bank records, and are allegedly incriminating. Many were then convinced that this was it for Corona. And then the records were falsified.

Envelope. The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.

Now, we have another envelope which can allegedly incriminate the respondent, for this envelope supposedly verifies the claim that Corona has dubious wealth hidden somewhere that amounts to $10-M. The object of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales’s searching eyes, the thing that made Harvey Keh the talk of the town; all eyes are now focused on this envelope that might catalyze the ending of this legal saga. Again, many people are convinced that this is the final nail in Corona’s coffin. Meanwhile, suspicions are rising as to the credibility of this evidence.

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Obviously, this is yet another dirty play by the yellows — to make the Chief Justice look guilty and get the senators to convict him. Why else provide the Senate President a bogus document? He, Walden Bello and Riza Hontiveros now claim that they have no personal knowlege of the dollar deposits of the Corona. Hello. Why file complaints then?

Similarly, Noynoy’s Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio-Morales, while claiming she will testify and tell all, now also admits that her order for the Chief Justice to explain his alleged foreign currency deposits amounting to $10 million was based on media report.

(Source: Link)

Magical envelopes are not restricted to Corona’s case. In fact, the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada became controversial because of an envelope, the contents of which could have incriminated Estrada for good. However, the jury decided not to open it, leading to the walkout of the prosecution and sheer outrage from the masses. But then as it turned out, the said envelope contained nothing incriminating.

It seems our national politics has an envelope-y nature. We Filipinos sure love envelopes, no? Not really, but we do love overrated plot devices.

Deus ex machina, a Latin phrase which roughly translates to “god out of the machine,” is:

“a person or thing (as in fiction or drama) that appears or is introduced suddenly and unexpectedly and provides a contrived solution to an apparently insoluble difficulty”

(Source: Link)

Basically, a deus ex machina is a person or a thing that appears out of nowhere and solves the problem in an instant (let’s, for a moment, drop the fiction/drama part). And, observing today’s society, our culture is rich with things that are perceived as such.

'Chill bro. I got this.'

In my previous article, I have explained PNoy’s distinct image as a hero to the Filipino masses; a hero who, just in the nick of time… just when all hope seemed lost, jumped into the political fray to shed hope to the Filipino people. This is a perfect illustration of a deus ex machina. We are fond of seeing personalities who will, quite suddenly, appear before our midst and lead us to a land of milk and honey.

The envelopes were dei ex machina in our little political drama. Just when the prosecution seemed defeated, just when all hope seemed lost and the villain Corona is about to get acquitted, suddenly, a bunch of envelopes appear, quite literally, out of nowhere to save the day. There is hope once again; people are once again fired up to persecute the respondent, confident that he’ll finally get the guilty verdict he deserves.

It seems that subconsciously, the concept of a miraculous person or object—a deus ex machina—as the solution to a problem has been ingrained in the Filipino mindset that it manifests itself from time to time.

Perhaps it stemmed from the iconic revolutions in our history. Perhaps it stemmed from the religion-centric culture the Spanish era has given us. In the end, a lingering longing for a single-package solution in our problems constitute the Filipino psyche.

Why do many Filipinos go to church, praying for God’s guidance, and then go bet on the lotto or at the nearest sweepstakes office? Why is there a prevailing “gameshow culture” in the Philippines, where countless Filipinos flock in the studios in hopes of getting their hands on the prizes these shows can offer? Why are many Filipinos more dependent on the government than on themselves? Why do we buy into the politicians’ simplistic campaign commercials?

All of these things share a common trait; they all offer an easy way out. They offer you the best of things for minimal effort, and many Filipinos fall for that. Many Filipinos fall for the world’s dei ex machina.

But reality will slap us back to her one way or another. Just like how deus ex machina is viewed as a mediocre plot device in literature, we Filipinos will realize that reality just isn’t compatible with single-package solutions. Just like how most lotto winners end up bankrupt in just a few years, just like how Filipinos waste their time watching game-shows for a slim chance of winning the jackpot, just like how the government cannot solve all of your problems, and just like how most campaign commercials mean jack squat, we should know that real success do not come in envelopes and similar stuff. We Filipinos should realize that we have to work hard to earn real success, because we learn through the process. A deus ex machina can’t teach you anything; experience does, and it will give you the knowledge to keep your hard-earned wealth.

We Filipinos should also realize that we have to practice critical thinking to arrive at the truth. We should weigh the facts and obtain rational conclusions, rather than just go with the flow and anchor our hopes to envelopes and small ladies who find their way to court. When we open our lives’ envelopes that contain success or truth, we don’t find this:

The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.

Instead, we find this:

Thousands of it.

We’ll find blueprints; blueprints of every permutation, detailing the things that need to be done to bring us closer and closer to our goals. Nothing in experience tells us that a single person or object is the key to our success; heck, it turns out that experience itself is the key to our success, coupled of course with rational thinking.

Just like how stories become colorful and interesting with functional characters, our lives become more and more productive as we tackle our problems not with blind faith in dei ex machina, but with our personal abilities. We truly succeed because we work hard, and we arrive at the truth because we think, not because of some iconic president-hero or an omniscient envelope or a lotto win.

It’s high time that we look into ourselves and start abandoning our miracle-based culture; a deus ex machina-based culture, so that we may transcend our simplistic mindset. This, to me, is a crucial step to turn our story from a clichéd, badly written gibberish into a bestseller novel.

48 Replies to “Deus ex machina: The Filipino’s Simplistic Mindset”

  1. Playwrights of olden times resort to dei ex machina to easily resolve a difficulty in the realization of a plot.

    Much like certified brats or retards, a lot of Pinoys would rather rely on some higher power (e.g. God, an OFW relative, some lonely old fart from a first world country they could milk, etc) to bail them out of their misery instead of simply following proper procedure methodically (e.g. due process, rule of law, etc)

    1. Kahit ano pa ang sabihin nyo, isa pa ring tuta ni Gloria si Corona na kilalang sumira ng bayan. At tignan mo naman, nabili ng anak ni Corona sa napakababang halaga ang BGEI pero napakataas ng halaga nito? Kung nagagawa nya yan sa sariling kamaganak, pano pa kaya kung ang hudikatura na?

      1. Haay, going on your vindictive whims again, Yellow Troll. Even your happy if Corona will be ousted, then don’t expect that PNoy will appoint a good CJ because it will be a conflict of interest.

        On the BGEI issue, it is yet to be proven. Don’t be misled by the media, trollfag. IKAW anf tunay na sumisira sa bayan.

      2. I question your credibility when you said ‘si Gloria ang sumira ng bayan’. Bakit? Did she ever point a gun at you? Did she personally stole YOUR money? It would make sense if she is one of ratifiers of the abomination called the 1987 Constitution.

        Fact: People blamed GMA because the MEDIA highlighted her faults and made her supposedly anti-masa. While the media who are allied with the Aquinos won’t look critically on their mistakes, especially the current President’s ineptitude. See the bias?

        1. bilib ako sayo lahat nalang sinisi mo pati ang media eh ang media nga ang tawag niya pag gusto niyang makita sa tv ang pagbibigay niya ng lugaw na walang lasa sabi ng mga taong kakilala ko.

        2. @nelson: Bord, hindi ako kasingtulad ni Abnoy na parati sisi sa sa nakaraang administrasyon. And hindi ako kasingtulad mo na sinisisi ang ibang tao sa lahat ng problema sa bansa. At leat I’m realistic and looking at the bigger picture.

          Don’t underestimate what the power of media can do, especially in Pinas. It can whore a whole government, keeps on telling you that ‘everything is ok’; it can manipulate minds by believing that one is good and the other is evil; it can demonize someone who opposed them or even their interest (like Marcos, Erap, and GMA); and it can manipulate events, like the impeachment.

          That was evident in the time of Cory and even until now. And lastly, it can help the dumbing down of the masses. And it did.

      3. @Fishball

        Anong kaugnayan naman nito sa sinabi ko? Nabanggit ko lang kasi siguro ang due process at rule of law, tinamaan ka kaagad at masyadong tinalaban. Kung sumusunod lang naman kayo duon eh di ka sana masyadong nasaktan.

        Naninibago lang kayo sa uri ng hudikatura na walang kama-kamag-anak at kaibi-kaibigan—di tulad nila AbNoy na puro KKKK lang ang totoong nakikinabang. Mga tuta lang ni AbNoy tulad nila Carpio at Sereno ang gusto ninyo. Ayaw niyo ang katulad nila Corona na ang nakikinabang ay mga hamak na magsasaka lamang tulad ng sa Hacienda Luisita case na ikinagagalit nila AbNoy.

      4. O, bumalik na pala si Vincenzo! Ba’t ‘di ako na-inform? Hehe.

        @Fishball: Wala bang bagong spiel? Pare-pareho namang ganyan ang sinasabi n’yo eh, sa araw-araw na ginawa ng Diyos… >.> ‘Di naman napapatunayan.

  2. I want my friends in America to read this cause it means them also! Americans have the same mindset and it has to change! Sadly this is exactly what Obama wants for The United States

    1. oo manipulated ako ng bias media na katulad ninyo na mag tuta ni arroyo kaya ko binabasa ang blog ninyong tuta para malaman ko ang kung sino ang sinungaling dahil sa blog ni raissa robles ay maraming ebidesya siya pinakita mga litrato ng mgfa bahay ni corona dito sa california at florida at affidavit ni mang indo na nagreklamo sa barangay at pulis dahil tinutukan ng baril eh ang tanda na ng tao at may sakit pang-TV kaya pinagbantay nalang sa bahay sa maynila ..nakakahiya ang amo ninyo malaking tao na maliit at matanda eh ginamitan pa niya ng baril yan ang mga taong duwag na matapang lang pagka maybaril ..abusadong tao ang amo mong si corona mga kapalmuk kayo na nadidipensa sa mga magnanakaw gobyerno …kung hindi ka katulad ni abnoy ay katulad ka corona NA SINUNGALING U—LOL ..makakakarma karin gaya ng amo mong si arroyo at corona U…LOL ..kun g hindi mo nabalitaan ang mga pinapapatay ng amo mo nagbubulag bulagan ka dadating ang araw matutuluyan kang mabulag magingat ka bulag bulag ka…

      1. Nope, lunatic. Sorry to disappoint you, but squatter mentality is like this: you keep on blaming on someone for everything that is bad happening.

        Fact is mas sinungaling ka because look at the bigger picture: most of the evidence of the prosecution were very weak and most of them are based on hearsay. Since you mention Raissa Robles, again I’m sorry because most of them were not brought to court; zero credibility to be exact. One guy who worked on the IRS stated that it was all a LIE; she even changed the statement from ‘FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS’ to ‘ASSETS’

        In reality, mas bulag ka. You’re becoming a Yellow Zombie like them plus your grammar and emoness. 😛

        1. Stay cool guys, Give this Nelson some slacks (or a rope to hang himself). We need these people to show how Penoy’s lapdogs minds work.

        1. hoy anak ng japayuki hindi ako maka pinoy wala akong pakealam sa mga politikong gaya mong bayaran .chihuawa breath kung hindi pa nagsayaw nag ina mo sa japan hindi ka makapagaaral monggol.

        2. @nelson:

          Obvious troll is obvious.

          You are indeed becoming vindictive and most of your comments are benefitting to PNoy and his regime. And in case you notice, my username was based on a fictional character.

          Congratulations on your squatter mentality thinking. My comment is ‘This country is… interesting. This is indeed HELL. Why don’t I send you there first?’

          PS: Correct your damn grammar. It’s laughable and insulting. Parang jejemon ka na rin. Wala sa pinag-aralan ang isang taong matino. 🙂

  3. mga bloger hindi lahat ng mga tao na hindi na ayun sa inyo ay makapinoy baka kayo banatan kayo ng banatan dahil parepareho kayong bayaran ng mga politikong magnanakaw .bakit ko magugustuhan si pinoy ay komunista ito na kaya ang mga npa ay ay nasa maynila na daahil piunababa ng ina niya si arroyo masmaraami pa ang pinapatay kaysa ke marcos at masmalaki pa ang kurakot na si estrada ay inakusahan ng juweteng eh dahil maliit ang parte ni singson kaya pinagtulungan nila si joseph ..

    1. You’re missing the point. If Arroyo have killed more than Marcos then where’s the evidence?

      In case you don’t notice, Cory have killed many people than Marcos. And then you’re accusing us na bayaran kami ng mga politikong magnanakaw? Please, you’re being manipulated by the biased media. That is what you have become. Sarap pala maging vindictive, right? No wonder why you live a CHAOTIC life.

      1. hoy papel the hapon sino ang sina sabi may chaotic life nandito akop sa america nakatira matagal na ako dito wala na ako sa pinas ng pinatalsik ninyo si marcos dakdak kayo ng dakdak wala naman kayong nalalaman sa buhay ng tao sa pinas lalo na ikaw kung hindi pa nag japayuki ang ina mo hindi ka makapagaaral alam mo siguro ang kapalit nabayad sa ina mo sa japan. hoy papel di hapon may pa grammar grammr kapang sinssabi kung di kapa papel de hapon hahahah!!!

        1. ‘ONE BAD DAY can make one man go to the depths of insanity.’ That is very evident on your posts.

          You apparently went insane when you vehemently accused us of being tuta ni Gloria at Corona with no proof whatsoever. Nasa America ka na but you have that low level of thinking.

          Corruption is not the root cause of the problem. It’s the dysfunctional culture that is miring the country for so long. May mas alam si Lee Kuan Yew tungkol sa buhay ng mga Pilipino kesa sa iyo e.

      2. hindi ko alam ang ginawa ni cory pero alam ko na komunista sila dahil ng nagbakasyon sa tarlak ang kaibigan ko sa tarlak ay nakita niya na si ninoy ay nagbibigay ng mga baril sa mga tao at si ninoy din ang nagpasabog sa meeting de abanse sa plaza miranda at si marcos ang pinagbibintangan nila ,si marcos naman pag may rally ay kinukulekta ng mga pulis ang mga membro ng sige-sige gang oxo, bahalana gang at pinagraraly at pag nakasaalubon g ang mga estudianteng nagrarary at ginugupi at pinapatay yung mga balita na muslim na sumuko athindi muslim mga tiga squatter ito na binayaran ..hindi ako maka marcos ,pinoy arroyo cory ako ay para sa katotohanan lang kung alam mo yon ..papel de hapon…ha!hahahaah!!!

        1. Naku, nagiging utak-squatter ka na rin. Ano’ng katotohanan? Something that suits your feelings? Your needs?

          Choke back on your tears while laughing at yourself, vindictive and malicious troll. You live in America but there is no way to uplift MEDIOCRITY on the ‘Land of Opportunity’. Did you take part on the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ schtick?

          You’re not on Marcos, Gloria, or PNoy but in the looks of it, you’re becoming EMO over PGMA, claiming that she stole YOUR money (which is the government’s money to begin with). Dyan ka lang magaling sa ad hominem, talo ka sa logic and reasoning.

  4. Arche,

    Great article.

    When I was still a new employee, my boss always told me about the Five Ps — Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. A lot of people know that success doesn’t come to you the moment you step out of your door. It doesn’t happen like a miracle.

    In the Philippine case, isn’t it like a vicious sustaining cyclical pattern for desperation? More people getting pushed to the brink of desperation — abandoning rational behavior in the process — which forces them wish for miracles more than actually plan to do something about their situation. Sometimes even if you plan, it doesn’t work out. That even makes it more frustrating.

    Take our annual influx of jobless college graduates. I can imagine the level of frustration among these young people. Probably, in the minds of those who did not get good breaks, after 4 to 5 years of school here I am working as a bagger in a supermarket or stacking cans in aisles. Like, WTF??

    Personally, I’ve had my share of “bad luck.” I’ve also had my share of “good luck.” In both cases, both were results of conscious efforts to do something positive. Plans may be good but they are not foolproof 100% of the time. It is essential that people learn to accept failure and use that energy to map out success. One should also learn when to forgive himself for a mistake.

    As a country, have we learned to do that?

    As a sidebar thought:

    In choosing leaders, is the choice of PNoy or someone else to take the highest post really brought about by “deux ex machina” or is it because people don’t really believe in a trickle down effect stemming from the efforts of these people?

    1. Thank you for your input! I enjoyed reading your ideas. Now, to address your sidebar thought:

      “In choosing leaders, is the choice of PNoy or someone else to take the highest post really brought about by ‘deux ex machina’…”

      Well, PNoy himself is a perfect illustration of a deus ex machina in our cultural story, as explained in my article, so I don’t quite understand what you meant here.

      “…or is it because people don’t really believe in a trickle down effect stemming from the efforts of these people?”

      Can you elaborate? ^^

      1. Simply put, if one is at the bottom of the social ladder, the chance of getting the full benefit of the actions of whoever is on top is almost nil.

        Eventually, one will get “numb” and won’t really think of his vote as a miracle-bringer but more of it as a “just to go through the motions of having nothing else to lose.”

        Let me know if that clarification was more confusing than the original thought. The Advil hasn’t kicked in yet. LOL.

        1. No, no, don’t worry. I understand it now, heh heh. 😀

          Well, either choice is possible, which is why I’m careful to attach quantifiers like “most” and “many,” since we can’t really speak on behalf of all Filipinos.

          Although I have to point out that, while it is possible that some Filipinos (usually at the lower social levels) don’t really see their votes as “miracles,” or anything important for that matter (hence the vote-buying), many middle-class and upper-class citizens surely do, considering the hype associated with PNoy’s candidacy.

          So yes, either option is possible.

          However, the poor aren’t exempted from dei ex machina, as I’ve pointed out in the article. PNoy isn’t the only deus ex machina in our society. So we can safely conclude that the concept of a deus ex machina affects every sector in our society, one way or another.

          Sorry if my reply seems messed up to you. 😛

        2. Oh, yeah. PNoy isn’t the only miracle available. That’s how some other organized religious groups came into being. 🙂

          As for the Upper and Middle Class, it is possible that they know someone who knows someone remotely linked to a candidate. Campaigning/voting for said candidate may be a potential meal ticket.

          I may sound a bit cynical but one has to question where that “undying passion for a candidate” comes from. There are those who genuinely believe in the candidate and there are those who genuinely believe in the potential earnings in supporting a candidate.

          If this is confusing, it might be the Advil talking. LOL.

        3. Even if the voters in question are cynical, they are not exempted from the deus ex machina concept.

          Dei ex machina in our society do not have to always concern the emotional side. After all, its purpose is to just solve problems all of a sudden.

          This principle clearly applies even to people who vote people they’ll receive payment or a free lunch. Here you’re half-dying of starvation, and then some presidential candidate whom you hardly know anything about offers you food and money for a vote. Still deus ex machina.

          And then the rest of my article follows. Does this clear things up a bit? ^^

  5. When will we learn that, these people involved in the Corona impeachment show are: Liars and Manipulators. They are beholden to the Aquino and the Cojuangco families, to confuse people; and keep the Hacienda Luisita. These are vicious people, and vicious politicians. There is a stand-off brewing already on the Scarborough Shoul, with China. Noynoy Aquino seems to be hiding under the table. Like he did, during the Luneta Hostage situation, that killed Chinese tourists. The Chinese are telling him: he cannot just kill Chinese, and get away with it. Like the way, he murdered his Hacienda Luisita Farmers/Tenant-serfs…Deux-Ex -Machina may not come…if you are facing: Chinese MIG 25, SilkWorm Missiles, etc…Reality is staring you straight in the eye…

  6. hoy anak ng japayuki ako ay nandito sa america at meron akong pera sa stock market at meron din akong namana na taniman ng niyog at apartment sa pinas .meron din akong property sa florida at 40 acre sa arizona 4 ang kotse ko dito meron akong mercedez ,pick-truck na 4 door at mini van at dodge van na may-upuan na nagiging kama .ikaw ano ang property mo mayaman ka na siguro dahil malaki ang bayad sa iyo ni corona at arroyo …ano ang sinasabi mo squatter metality racist ka ..yung perang sinasabi mo ninikaw ni arroyo sa aking ay yong perang bayad namin sa property tax dahil mabinili akong bahay na may-hot spring na binayaran ko ang property tax at tax ng mana ng taniman ng niyog at mga apartment ..nabubulag bulagan ka mabubulag karin U>>>>LOL

    1. Sorry, lunatic. But your posts makes no sense at and you are here just to troll. Dahil totoo ang sinabi ko, you’re just resorting to ad hominem attacks.

      And I’m disappointed because you are so vindictive and malicious; pinagbintangan mo ako na may malaking bayad ako galing kay Arroyo at Corona. Ordinaryong citizen lang ako na may simpleng bahay at buhay at isa pa, mas matalino at matino ako kesa sa iyo. Just accept the fact that wala kang pinagkaiba sa mga squatter dito kasi ganun sila mag-isip; hindi racist iyon. THAT is reality. So another thing is that you’re an onion-skinned douche. At sablay pa rin ang argument mo dahil nakatira ka na sa Amerika; taxation ain’t YOURS, son!

      Requesting for deletion of this troll’s post. In fact, you’re INSANE. Deal with it. 😛

    2. To put things clearly: Everyone paid attention at Arroyo taking the people’s money (when it’s the government’s money to begin with) yet nobody was shocked and awe that PNOY took over 60 million pesos in pork barrel money? Oh but of course not since the incompetent individual has not done anything bad and is compensating himself as a proud member of the Aquino family and taking his rightful place in the government.

  7. hoy anak ng japayuki ang bahay na nabili ko ay may hotspring na swimming pool at binayaran ko ng cash ikaw nakabili kanaba ng bahay binayaran mo ba ng cash …siguro si arroyo o si corona ang nagdown payment ng bahay mo..mabubulag karin u—-lol

    1. Mas bulag ka. I’m not in favor of Arroyo or Corona. Just because I prefer the rule of law doesn’t mean I prefer Corona. Just because I prefer progress doesn’t mean I’m in favor of Arroyo.

      Kahit ganun ang buhay mo, it’s such a pity that you have squatter mentality. Hate Gloria all you want, but the fact is she did better than PNoy. Now how can you explain the 7.6% GDP increase during her admin.

      Cge, magbintang ka pa. 🙂 You’re becoming more stupid every day. You keep on showing to us that the core problem of this country is the dysfunctional culture. Only intelligent people discusses IDEAS. And the likes of you are the cancer killing the Failippines. Nasa Amerika ka na, utak-squatter at jejemon ka pag magsasalita ka. It’s insulting. <_<

    2. Well well well, we have another stupid troll accusing this site of being “bayaran” WITHOUT ANY PROOF. Sorry Troll, you have to do better than that.


      Hindi mahirap maglagay ng comma at question mark.
      Learn your grammar first troll.

  8. Arche, The deus ex machina device is used rather well in Pinoy society, don’t you think? There are at least two other (2) obvious reasons why Pinoys do so:

    1) Palusot – to make excuses
    2) To deflect the responsibility away from person in question

    “Why do Filipinos buy into Why are many Filipinos more dependent on the government than on themselves? Why do we buy into the politicians’ simplistic campaign commercials?”

    I’m just curious, what were you planning to write at part where it was cut off (placed in underline)?

    1. “Why do Filipinos buy into Why are many Filipinos more dependent on the government than on themselves? Why do we buy into the politicians’ simplistic campaign commercials?”

      Oops, forgot to underline, placed it in bold instead. 😛

      1. Yup, I must agree with your observation.

        Oh god. What a major typo. It’s also supposed to be about the campaign commercials. I forgot to delete that part though. Thanks for pointing that out! I’ll have that fixed right away.

        Geez, I’m getting rusty at this. -.-

  9. Well said! Also reflecting this reliance on dei ex machina are:
    (1) Expecting the US to help us at Scarborough, and then feeling let down when they prioritize their big picture foreign policy over the Mutual Defense Treaty
    (2) Thinking of CCTs as some sort of mana from heaven being and being disappointed that the amount is quite small and comes with conditions
    (3) Having lots of children and explaining it by saying “Malay mo ang isa diyan ang mag-aahon sa amin sa kahirapan”
    (4) Falling for those stupid miracle cures

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