Is compassion misapplied in Philippine society?

The definition of compassion that is common to several sources is that it is a feeling of deep sympathy and/or empathy for the misfortune of others. If we want to further go down this line of thought, then eventually we find ourselves face to face with the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Compassion is considered a great virtue among many belief systems. Let me give as an example a few of these systems and how they embody it.

For the Chinese, the Confucian system holds it in very high regard. Although the concept of ren is more closely translated as benevolence, the essence is similar. It is how two people should treat another, and can also be regarded as the good feeling a virtuous human experiences when being altruistic.

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Christianity too stresses that compassion should be extended to all, even enemies. Every follower of this faith will be familiar with the parable of the good Samaritan. Let us not also forget to mention the passage “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.”

Islam, too, has its own ways of emphasizing compassion. It is but one of many of Allah’s attributes. In fact, the invocation that starts almost every chapter in the Quran, the Bismillah, is the ultimate declaration of it. “In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful.”

The three (3) belief systems I mentioned above all exist in Filipino society. Often times they even come into contact with each other and clash. That having been said, I felt curious about examining a particular comment in the GRP threads: Is there a history of misapplying compassion in the Philippines?

When Gloria Arroyo pardoned Erap in 2007, my educated guess is that she was doing it to get back popular support which Erap had always enjoyed even in jail. Given how the media had painted her into someone to be detested and to be blamed for all the people’s ills, did she really have much of a choice? She still needed public support for her programs, and she wasn’t getting it. Erap issued a statement three years later in 2010 that he didn’t owe Arroyo anything. Seems like he never got over being convicted, but it’s the people who fell for his “Erap para sa mahirap” slogan who really paved the way for most of the events that followed after he got elected.

PNoy won the 2010 elections due to the “sympathy vote”. It was really good timing for his supporters that his mother died. If Cory hadn’t kicked the bucket PNoy would have remained a non-performing unknown nobody of a senator whose only claim that he could boast was that he had revered parents. He had no platform back then when he ran, he still doesn’t now, and his “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” tagline is proving to be false under close scrutiny.

PNoy granted amnesty to convicted mutineers Danilo Lim and Antonio Trillanes IV. The former is an unrepentant advocate of military adventurism, and I don’t think it was a coincidence that he was granted amnesty because the target of his uprisings happens to be PNoy’s favorite scapegoat for all his failures, Gloria Arroyo. Trillanes, on the other hand, is now one of PNoy’s most rabid attack dogs in the Senate. He will always be remembered as the soldier whose line of questioning in the Senate inquiries a few years ago possibly drove Angelo Reyes to suicide.

The Senator-judges who voted to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona are now calling for PNoy to stop filing cases against the former CJ and GMA. An obvious question to ask: were they THAT NAϏVE in thinking that PNoy did not set up the whole show just to get back at his political enemies for taking away his beloved estate? It is evident, and painfully clear that all PNoy wanted to do was satisfy his vindictiveness; there is nothing related to “justice” about railroading cases, defying Supreme Court TRO’s, and meddling unnecessarily in impeachment trials.

PNoy is not letting GMA get the treatment she needs for her condition. GMA is being kept in the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) and there is hardly a word about the severity of her condition lest sympathy be generated for her. If I were in PNoy’s shoes, I would assume that if she is allowed to go abroad she would escape “justice”. However, there’s one thing missing: the charges against her have already been dropped by the Ombudsman. Unless PNoy has anything else that is substantial, he has to let her go. If she does indeed escape, it is a function of his lackey’s incompetence as much it is of her resourcefulness.

What are some of the things common to these cases? Simple: compassion was applied because it was the popular thing to do.

As mentioned above, GMA needed popular support, but it backfired, possibly because Erap couldn’t care less.

PNoy’s supporters thought he was a compassionate man given that he was Cory’s son; his “hindi ako magnanakaw” slogan not only resonated with them, it fished them in for six (6) years of arduous torture!

It was ironic that Trillanes painted himself as a victim of persecution by the Arroyo government even if it just happened that his mutiny was put down. He was rebelling against a government, so was Danilo Lim.

In PNoy’s case, as long as it has something to do with his personal enemies, there is no compassion. Those aren’t even enemies of the Filipino people, mind you; PNoy made it personal and he insisted that the Filipinos do so too. Where are the supposed criminal cases that are going to be filed against Corona and GMA, hmm? It’s getting clearer that he not only wants to drive the dagger into his enemies’ wounds, he wants to twist it too. And here I thought he was a devout Catholic.

The Filipino is known for his/her pusong mamon. Translated into English, it refers to soft-heartedness. Is this necessarily a bad thing? No, it isn’t, but keep in mind that there will always be Pinoys who aim to take advantage of others simply because they can, and/or because they feel the need to. After all, some Pinoys have a very shallow sense of self-security, and it seems inborn to them that they feel schadenfreude to feel good about themselves. Soft-heartedness is a bad thing only if one allows himself/herself to be taken advantage of. If one is gullible enough to fall for the victim ploys or crocodile tears of a charlatan, then it is not only unworthy of pity, it is detestable.

Does the pursuit of justice necessarily come into conflict with applying compassion to one’s enemies? The simple answer to that is also no. However, what exactly is the standard of justice that Pinoys want? It seems that many of them are stuck with the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” standard, which is very…primitive. The Golden Rule has been twisted: Do unto others before they do unto you. There’s no more compassion in there; it’s pure vengeance and vindictiveness speaking. Couple it with the Pinoy obsession of putting one over his/her enemies, and you’ve got a lethal mix.

It’s ironic that for all the Chinese influence we claim to have absorbed over the years, we have not practiced ren enough. As I defined at the start of this article, ren refers to benevolence or compassion. Even in practicing martial arts, Chinese still observe ren. In theory, you stop attacking your opponent when he/she no longer poses a threat.

Is PNoy justified in how he has been pursuing his cases against GMA and Corona relentlessly? If he is, why did he have to subject them to such humiliating circumstances? Why did he have to bend his constituents over to get what he wanted? Why doesn’t he have airtight cases on both of them until now? If PNoy were really compassionate, he would have let them get the treatment they need, and, as he doesn’t have any really case against them that could stand up in a court of law, then he has to stop pursuing them.

Then again, there is no compassion in the vocabulary of a vindictive Pinoy. Remember, PNoy embodies everything that the Pinoy is notorious for. He is vindictive, shallow, reliant on popularity, incompetent, closed-minded, insensitive, impervious to criticism and advice, and he is unwilling to change.

A society without compassion is one that unnecessarily makes it hard for its inhabitants to live in, I believe. Pinoys are not naturally devoid of it, but they’ve applied it to the wrong people so long and so many times that they no longer trust anyone anymore. Are we counting on the ones in power, the oligarchs, to be compassionate to the rest of the Filipinos? No, to them we are their source of power and of income; nothing more, nothing less. As long as we maintain such a soft, forgiving, and pusong-mamon culture, we can always expect to be taken advantage of by wolves in sheep’s clothing.

13 Replies to “Is compassion misapplied in Philippine society?”

  1. Compassion and mercy to your enemies, are teachings in good religions…sympathy and empathy are also the virtues of those religions. Your belief or religion does not matter. It is how you apply these beliefs in your religion in your daily life that matter. Noynoy Aquino is a very vindictive man. If he will fall from power. I hope that his political enemies, will not treat him that way. He has hurt many people already. Trillanes and Lim are political opportunists. They serve their own pockets, as most of our politicians…Remember that power is just temporary…soon you will no longer be in power…

  2. 1. There is a difference between doing the right thing politically and simply doing the right thing. 2. If you satisfying the masses is the criteria behind your decisions see #1. Not sure if that is leadership .

    1. And rarely do the two intersect. It takes guts to do the right thing despite it being unpopular, and very few people have it.

  3. does compassion mean we should not prosecute past wrongdoers? ignoring this will encourage a culture of impunity

    1. Clearly missing the point. Culture of impunity was encouraged a long time ago before GMA. In case you don’t notice, it all started during Cory’s time and because of his antics, Lee Kuan Yew said this:

      “The Philippines has a SOFT, FORGIVING, CULTURE.”

  4. I believe after all the corruption Gloria did during her illegitimate presidency, she is beyond compassion. She epitomize the word greed and doesnt deserve any empathy. All the suffering shes going through righ now is what i call KARMA. So please Mr/Ms Editor , i suggest you stop writing bias articles against PNoy because what he is doing is making Gloria liable for her actions that she as a bogus President was unable to do because of her wicked ways.

    1. I am not an editor but I am sure the people who are will soon acquiesce to your demands Stephen. That’s just the kinda people that they are.

    2. TROLL. 😛

      The reason why you are saying that is because THAT is what the media tells you. That’s the whole truth. You’re far more wicked than Gloria because you’re, in fact, a Yellow Zombie. In other words, people who gets mad to a small deal.

      Butthurt, eh? I suggest you should shut up because nobody will agree on someone who has an angry mob mindset.

    3. Stephen,

      You are clearly on the wrong mindset since you have already condemned a person for crimes that were not even proven yet.
      Read our lips troll, STFU!

  5. Stephen,
    Your president is clearly the bogus one since doesn’t act like one. Time and again, your president has made stupid decisions. When will you ever see the true nature of your bogus president?

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