Barack Obama re-election: But the Philippines remains a third-rate copycat democracy

As the presidential elections in the United States draw to a close, Filipinos who closely followed it can only sigh and treasure the moments that they felt they were participating in something truly big. The United States after all is the daddy of Philippine “democracy”. And in this age of social media, ‘citizen journalism’, and insta-punditry, elections turn into a big love-in of armchair opinion brokering that gives everyone that warm fuzzy feeling that they are “in the loop”.

Tomorrow, however, is a Monday for the multitude of “online journalists” who headily covered the US elections, however. After a virtual weekend in the fantasy world of US elections, we now turn our attention back to Pinoy-style elections, where all the wrong arguments win and the “droll and unintelligent, focused on the trivial or the irrelevant” national “debate” dominates the online chatter.

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Indeed, re-elected US President Barack Obama shares only one thing with Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III: both politicians campaigned and won within a timeframe that placed them smack squarely within the age of social media “activism”. But whereas ideas garnered a good enough share of the social media chatter surrounding the elections stateside, in the Philippines it will be back to the less intellectually-stimulating world of pedigree platforms, showbiz psychopathy, and dynastic power brokering.

So presumably now is the time to apply what our US election “observers” supposedly learned from their excellent coverage of that fiesta. As Mr Paul Farol noted, it is unlikely that the there is any new and real wisdom da Pinoy can add to the collective intellect of humanity and consequently, in the context of recent events, we should ask: “What political insight can the common Filipino observer add to the tomes written about the American Democratic thought over the last two hundred years?”

Not much. Our role has always been one of apprenticeship since Independence in 1946 and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Unlike Darth Vader who, at one point, arguably had a legitimate claim to the distinction of having switched roles with his former master Obi Wan Kenobi, the Philippines remains a third-rate copycat democracy.

Some of the lessons are obvious. The campaign was fierce and grounded on issues and character, there was a televised debate (duh!), politicking gave way to resolve and sobriety when Hurricane Sandy hit, and results were out and announced by authoritative sources in a timely manner. The way Americans routinely step up to exhibit such grace along those aspects of their elections is what separates the men from the boys in the practice of democratic governance.

Filipinos, on the other hand, are stuck in a rut that prevents them from rising above the lowest bars of the most basic components of decency. Even the most fundamental tenets of ethical behaviour seem to loom beyond the aspirations of the average Filipino politician and the voters who vote for them. Nepotism and the conflicts-of-interest that accompany its practice, grandstanding that goes beyond reasonable bounds of political campaign, campaigns that insult the intelligence of the electorate, and an inbred media clique whose proficiency for internal collusion is only matched by the Philippines’ fuel retailing industry; all of these remain deeply-entrenched in Philippine politics and continue to endure despite the much-vaunted “power” that is supposedly in the hands of the Filipino people.

For now, US elections like Sesame Street are loaded with lessons and are nice to watch to boot. But the application of these lessons in the Philippine setting will remain a pipe dream for many decades to come — at least until Filipinos learn how to think.

41 Replies to “Barack Obama re-election: But the Philippines remains a third-rate copycat democracy”

  1. benign0, Romney and Obama both – they weren’t and aren’t saints, and to say that the run-up to the 2012 elections is a lesson in ethical behavior is a laugher. I may belong to one of the types you like to mock (the Pinoy who assiduously watches events like this with no hope of learning from them), but the recent election is anything but an example of decency (though relatively mundane compared to elections here or in the previous two US presidential elections).

  2. I have learned at least that Barack Obama shares frightening similarities with BS Aquino.

    They both display utter contempt for anyone with a modicum of intelligence capable of challenging their positions and offering alternative point of view.

    They both despise a truly independent press that is critical of them and their administrations. Obama prefers the soft coverage of MTV and E! BS Aquino prefers the ass-kissing air-heads of ABS-CBN; he made this an official position during his inauguration and filled his propaganda department with mindless, inarticulate drones from channel 2 (those that weren’t hired by MVP).

    They are both vengeful, polarizing entities that will have their societies spinning around in circles for decades over inconsequential non-issues.

    They both have shady – if not outright criminal – cohorts and incompetent advisors and staffers.

    Neither of them have any real respect from their contemporaries – at home or abroad.

    Neither of them are half as good as they think they are. Except that they both excel at being two-faced lying SOBs.

    I also learned that Suibon – and other Filipinos who spend waaaay too much time obsessing over all things US – is exactly why “the application of these lessons in the Philippine setting will remain a pipe dream for many decades to come.”

    1. The fact that I am able to mock myself by referring to the type that you bash means that I am at least aware – and may one day act upon my observations, if I don’t spend too much time staring at myself.

      In other words: satire, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you and good day. =P

      1. I’m sorry did someone say something? Must have tuned out there for a few seconds. Somewhat preoccupied in my capacity as master of the world.

      2. Suibon,

        Are you related with Bill Maher by any chance?

        Everytime Maher is cornered with his obnoxious screed, his scapegoat – he would always claim it’s just a satire. “I’m just a comedian”!

        Google it.

        BTW, I’ve a note in my FB inre of Penoy’s similarity with Obama.

        “President Aquino’s Obama-esque – Updated”


        “Actually, it’s not their similarities per se that I’m curious about. It’s on how far President Aquino is similar with President Obama – by design or is it by coincidence?

        (The joke around in the US is if Al Qaeda wants to destroy US, they must hurry because Obama is almost beating them to it).

        o Is it by coincidence that President Aquino’s election campaign is also about hope and change, Obama’s patented campaign battle cry? (He he he, the Obama effect.)

        o President Obama’s first meeting with his cabinet was after 3 months of his being elected. Vice Pres Binay was quoted that there has been no full Cabinet meeting in three months in one news article dated Jan. 2, 2011.

        o The mastery of the art of blame game. He inherited the problem from previous administration if he can’t go any forward in resolving an issue.

        o There is this eventuality that President Aquino will tell the people that the rise in unemployment rate in our country under his watch is not abnormal since the same is also true in US under Obama’s watch.

        1. Indeed. How did you know? =P

          But seriously, did you catch the logic of what I said? Or not at all? I may have portrayed myself as someone else when I am not. Goodness gracious, I am not: I got a life too, you know.

    2. Another thing – I never heard of a politician who subjects himself to the outright hostility of host, pundit, and crowd since television came to be, and why should one undergo that, unless he’s a self-flagellating masochist?

      1. Have you been living under a rock that you failed to notice how the nature of print, television, radio and alternative media have evolved in the late 20th century and early 21st? The total effect of a rabid 24/7 coverage has been an unavoidable barrage of stimuli on public personages. Its the nature of the beast.

        And if you bothered to check your facts, Mr Obama AVOIDED any SERIOUS news reporters during a major part of the last 6 months. His only interviews were with ENTERTAINMENT programs where the most serious question was on the level of “What kind of music do you listen to?”

        Meanwhile terrorists waged war on Americans culminating in an attack on the US Libyan consulate in Benghazi. Just as BS Aquino abdicated his responsibility during the Manila hostage crisis early in his presidency.

        Point is – these two liars have failed to execute their duties and responsibilities and avoided press coverage to avoid answering to the people they failed.

        1. ‘Have you been living under a rock that you failed to notice how the nature of print, television, radio and alternative media have evolved in the late 20th century and early 21st?’

          The fact that I am here conversing with you shows that I am living somewhere else.

          ‘The total effect of a rabid 24/7 coverage has been an unavoidable barrage of stimuli on public personages.’

          who can ignore said stimuli, as long as said rabid 24/7 coverage preaches only to the choir of interested partisans and little else. The continued marginal lives of most alternative journalism outlets, including this little hub, testifies to that.

          ‘And if you bothered to check your facts, Mr Obama AVOIDED any SERIOUS news reporters during a major part of the last 6 months. His only interviews were with ENTERTAINMENT programs where the most serious question was on the level of “What kind of music do you listen to?”’

          I didn’t bother to check because I knew he won’t be showing up, election season and all. Bad form to show yourself up in anything that is not perfectly controlled. A decade-and-a-half of living in the Philippines can still teach you many things, if you be receptive enough.

          Hush it – why exactly are we pitting ourselves against each other? I am not against you or what you are trying to say.

    3. Ya know,dat is some bullshit dat there is.Yes,dats dat Bullshit I’m talkin ’bout.and instead of pointing out the fallacies in dat bullshit there,I will just say:HOW,of fuckin HOW, can “the application of these lessons in the Philippines setting” “remain a pipe-dream for many decades to come.”.When you declare that these two guys are the same?HUH?Dats dat Bullshit dat there,yeah thats right.Dats what I’m talkin ’bout.If they are so similar,do the same things,the two guys you speak of…How can it be a pipe-dream? HUH? WHAT?DUH- UH- UH- UH,W-W-W-WHAT???
      You do not know what you are talking about.
      I am actually leaving this place but I saw this and had to get one more comment in.This is it.DANG!
      Au revoire,GRP!

      1. @MR.KREIG

        You’re full of sh*t. Most commenters here come and go without feeling the need to say goodbye. You are such a drama queen.

        Good riddance!

        1. Yo DOOD,good luck with your future(You do not have one).
          There is only one solution,it ain’t pretty and it ain’t bloggin’.Stick ya insult in ya ass too DOOD,ya know?dats that place where your future is. You do not have THE BALLS to change any-fuckin-thing.20 yrs. from now,if what is necessary today is not done,nothing will be changed.And you will still be here insulting people with your big mouth and turd brain.I tried to be nice and not insult anyone here.Point one thing out and gently suggest what really needs to be done here,BUT you DOOOD?Good riddance you say?Maybe,but at least I got somewhere to go,unlike you.HA,I would hate to be you, that’s gotta suck.

        2. You contradict yourself, Mr Kreig. You keep saying that we will never understand the real problem and yet you expect us to understand your convoluted and grammatically incorrect comments. I think you need to see a shrink because you seem confused about what you really think.

          You don’t know anything about me to assume that I have no future.

          You know what’s pathetic? Someone who thinks the Philippines suck and yet comes here for a cheap f**k! You are sick man.

          You must be related to Joe America…hahaha!

        3. You aint even close DOOD. I know you are pathetic and do not have to know you.You insult people,call me crazy as if I need a shrink.Hey ass-hat,the only point I made was understood by some,missed by others(you are the type that did not get it coz your too dumb and have to have everything spelled out for you!When you don’t understand you resort to insults,like a li’l boy.)…but more importantly what needs to be done.Here,NOW!
          You do not have the BALLS for it kid,I know it and so do you!and cheap pussy?HA,your so fuckin stupid you think guys come here to get laid,you ass-hat.The price of a plane ticket is 10 visits to a top notch(yes,top-notch ass-hat) cat-house in Europe/the States,so you are just clueless as you are class-less.Ya got nothin,including NO BALLS child.I am a top-shelf guy ass-hat,you could not hang w/me……anywhere.
          You and your petty insults are just exactly what I mean about how pathetic you are,and YOU KNOW IT.
          Punk-ass.Ya know why I call you ass-hat? Coz your a shit-head…you can’t hang w/me little-boy.Go take your nap.

        4. You are so ignorant. You talk about Americans coming here for girls? And “Joe”? Has the Philippines not found diversity yet? Has discrimination and generalizations has become the new norm? I remember there were some Filipino’s that visited the U.S. and they were called Pacquiao by a group of Mexicans. It offended them. But I bet you they see no problem calling white people “Joe”. The fact is, the Philippines is far behind. At this point, you can only compare the country with places like Thailand. But even Thailand is doing better. The fact is, pride is what’s holding this country back. Everyone here is so hell-bent on promoting themselves over actually saving this country from incompetent government officials. You got commercials saying go to be Pinoy this and that, but nothing about out problems. Yeah, it’s nice to hear compliments, but how can you learn from mistakes if they aren’t addressed? Anyway, if those same officials and citizens really think the Filipino’s are the only one that can figure out the solutions of what made this country hell for many, ask Dick Gordon. He knows that emulating certain styles of various first world governments does help greatly. I use to say that the Philippines has first world people led by a third world government. But hearing the ranting people and the know-it-alls posting all over the internet from this country, I’m beginning to feel differently.

          P.S. Why is it that Foreigners who visit care more about the land of this country than many Filipinos? If the citizens of this country really cared about this land, they wouldn’t destroy it by throwing and pissing on it. You can’t deny that.

        5. @Michael

          I wasn’t referring to all Americans as “Joe”. There is an anonymous blogger who calls himself “Joe America” and I was referring to him. He was banned here for being a moron. Mr Kreig’s behaviour is very similar to Joe.

          I use to say that the Philippines has first world people led by a third world government. But hearing the ranting people and the know-it-alls posting all over the internet from this country, I’m beginning to feel differently

          Unfortunately, if the Philippines has first world people, it wouldn’t elect third world government. The government is just a reflection of the people.

          Most of us do not use our critical analysis. Stick around here and you will learn the truth about us. 😉

        6. @michael,

          Your comment –

          “P.S. Why is it that Foreigners who visit care more about the land of this country than many Filipinos? If the citizens of this country really cared about this land, they wouldn’t destroy it by throwing and pissing on it. You can’t deny that.”

          And in your country, the liberals reelected Obama.

          (Al Qaeda terrorists must hurry if they want to destroy US of A, Obama is beating them to it – with vengeance!)

          Want to make liberals angry? Defend the United States according to Coulter.

      2. Even in your last post here in GRP, you still amuse me with your rants although to be fair, your posts were a bit amusing to read.

    4. But you are ignoring the biggest and bestest about Noyi-Noy. He is a child of a former president, and Pilipinas knows the children of former presidents make the bestest really the most honest leader of super-duper ethics and integrity.

  3. Way to sugarcoat the whole 2012 Presidential campaign. I guess you forgot the bombardment of smear ads and heated tradeoffs between two sides during the debates.

    Not like Pinoy campaigning is any better, but try not to sound like the US lapdog Pinoys who you claim to despise.

    1. The best way to discern the intent of any politician is to look at what they do in office and how they react to crisis.


      BS Aquino is a no-show at a critical point in his presidency that has both local and foreign policy indications. He sat stupidly by with his thumb up his ass while Chinese tourists were held hostage by a known terrorist. And hostages DIED. Aquino’s answer? It was the cops’ fault.

      Obama’s pet energy projects file for bankruptcy. A US ambassador killed in Libya. Faked statistics for the US economy. His response? It was a non-existent video on YouTube. For everything else – it was the Republicans’ fault. No logical evidence but it was George Bush’s fault.


      1. There’s lots of evidence that some of the problems of America were Republicans’ fault. Obama’s ballooned their debt, but Bush started the irresponsible spending with his own bailouts and stimulus and by spearheading the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and Romney/Ryan could never properly explain how they would pay for their tax cuts without adding to the deficit and keeping to all their promises.

        And I’m curious to know what your evidence is of Obama faking stats about the US economy.

        1. This really should be the topic of a full article but since you ask…

          Just the facts, mon ami.

          I imagine one of the factors that boosted Obama’s win is his administration’s assertion that unemployment is down across the union as evidenced by fewer unemployment claims. AHA! The stimulus money he showered on the American people is working. Low unemployment must mean more jobs and a growing economy, right?

          TRUE. IF YOU SINGLE OUT THAT ONE FACTOID AND TAKE IT OUT OF CONTEXT! But something as complex as our modern economic systems hardly exists in a vacuum.

          Over the same period that Obama claims the unemployment rate has dropped, DISABILITY CLAIMS have RISEN dramatically (Forbes magazine, August 2012). This makes the case that the reason fewer people are receiving unemployment benefits is that they are no longer eligible. THE MONEY IS USED UP. DRY. NADA. NOTHING LEFT. Not because they have found steady employment.

          There has been a corresponding proportional rise in people claiming benefits from federal and local governments as a result of illness or work-related injury.

          In other words, they aren’t back in the workforce. They merely found another milking cow. And why not? Statistics will further show that Obama and his left-leaning predecessors have been largely responsible for continuously raising the amount of benefits the average American worker is assured to receive in case of unemployment or disability. As a result those that suddenly find themselves on unemployment have NO incentive to go back to work where they may be underemployed, receiving a salary lower than their unemployment/disability benefits.

          As for the stimulus to so-called “green” businesses? Take a look…

          There’s SOLYNDRA, the classic example as to why GOCCs are a stupid idea. The owners of this company contributed $100k to Obama for the 2008 election. They received $90 million in federal funding. They went bankrupt in 2011 because the Chinese produce the same solar cells they were supposed to develop. Total cost to my relatives in the US–$849 million. And the feds don’t get any money from the bankruptcy proceedings.

          It isn’t just this one incident. Across the US Obama has allocated up to $1.3 billion in green energy. Most of these companies have only a handful of permanent employees (which is the real benchmark of a robust economy). In all that means the US government spent something like $5 million to keep one person employed with no return as these businesses have yet to turn a profit.

          And the other so-called “shovel-ready” jobs? Turns out they weren’t really there. More of a pipe dream than anything else.

          What about the Republicans? Hell yes I blame them for their part in this mess the world is in. They were also on board when the impetus for this current crisis – the housing market crash – occurred. That, mon ami, is an even longer tale. Tell me if you want it told.

          PS. You don’t have to take my word for what is written here. The facts are there. Just do a little research to verify.

        2. I forgot this point…

          While George Bush made a colossal error in manipulating the economy by passing the stimulus bills under his watch, it should be noted that a significant portion of the recipients of TARP and other bailout packages under his watch had been able to repay their loans in full as early as 2009. A number of them even turned a profit. (You can verify this through the Wall Street Journal)

          So all the hand wringing about how the Republicans had been fiscally irresponsible really had no merit at the height of the Obama administration’s stimulus program. Other than a means to sow animosity among Americans.

          Incidentally, if you want to assign blame wasn’t it Cong. Barney Franks, a Democrat and close Obama supporter, who headed up the committee overseeing the US government insurance companies who had the problem to begin with? A cynical person might blame Obama’s coterie for initiating this crisis just to get elected. But that’s not me…

        3. Good points. The stimulus was a failure, the US is becoming too much of an entitlement country and all the “green jobs” and projects and subsidies were and are terrible ideas. It’s depressing to see P-Noy follow that same path of the goverment picking winners and losers with the GOCC’s and PPP’s.

          But I still don’t see how he “Faked statistics for the US economy”, in your words, since even though unemployment/disability claims have skyrocketed, he didn’t invent them. Those statistics have always been there, and while he has spun the unemployment stats in his favor, which all politicians do, I haven’t read anything about him ever faking any official statistics.

          And yeah, I read somewhere that it was ironically Clinton that caused the recession when he repealed Glass-Steagall and expanded the federal role of Fannie and Freddie. All of the traditional politicians are to blame.

        4. @Benjamin

          How about googling Obama Faked Statistics.

          Sampler –

          “BLS Uses Obama Fuzzy Math to Fake New 8.6% Unemployment Number”

          Of course, he was not the one who has a direct hand in faking the data (he’s not that bright) but he used it for his campaign.

          And of course again, he can play dumb if confronted with it since he can claim it’s the available data at that time.

          Better yet, google Obama lies…

        5. Now we’re just splitting hairs. Would it be better if I called them half-truths?

          You really ought to do a little research. TROSP’s post got the gist of the problem. It’s about context: ‘With today’s math, “1 + 1” can be whatever you want it to be.’

          True. The Obama administration did not hide the statistics of the BLS. Neither did they mention them at any time. In fact, they went out of their way to suppress these stats first by using “fuzzy math” in their report to the public that the economy is doing better. Follow that up with a barrage of sound bites from talking heads in the American media sympathetic to the Obama White House extolling the virtues of the Obama economic policy. And a virtual lack of in-depth coverage/analysis from the large networks of the actual BLS findings.

          This actually suggests collusion with media outlets in an attempt to dupe the American public and the rest of the world into thinking everything is working fine. It isn’t simple obfuscation; its called LYING BY OMISSION!

          Regarding the stimulus — while I consider the 2007-08 package to be a mistake, I recognize it was a knee-jerk reaction out of fear. Again — those original stimulus loans WERE PAID OFF. Some of them even turned a profit. The reason it is detrimental to the world’s economy is that it establishes a precedent for a bail-out mentality. That no one needs to be responsible anymore; if anything goes wrong, the government will bail you out. Worse, it tells us its okay for government to meddle in things they have proven to be incompetent. Like GOCCs.

          Lets look at SOLYNDRA again. Originally, the owners were denied a federal grant (in 2007 I believe; I could be wrong) because the US Department of Energy realized it couldn’t deliver on its claims. In comes Obama and as part of the expanded plan to stimulate economic growth, especially in green tech, the company received nearly $100 million. All of which went up in smoke.

          By the measure of that evidence, it isn’t traditional politicians who are to blame. Its the so-called progressives like Obama, the Clintons and BS Aquino who, having NO EXPERTISE whatsoever, find it appropriate to direct every aspect of our society and encroach into our individual lives.

  4. Seems to me that Obama and BS Aquino have one fundamental difference:

    Obama has a difficult time getting things done due to the skullduggery of the opposing party in congress, where they dominate.

    Aquino has a difficult time getting things done despite commanding subservience from both congress and senate.

    1. Great observations . Simple explanation . Pre-president Noynoy did not have history or reputation of getting anything done. He already stacks the deck and is still useless . He is not there for the Filipino. Will let you all decide who he really serves. Signs are all there .

    2. Correction…

      BS Aquino does not get anything done because he does not have a plan for what his government will be aside from a few convenient sound bites he’s memorized over the last 25 years.

      Other politicians choose to work with him in the house and senate simply because his branch of government holds the purse strings. And they just looove their pork and local government allocations. Not to mention the odd public works contract.

      In fact I haven’t come across any Filipino politician who has a vision much less a concept of nation that extends beyond their family’s/clan’s ability to dominate the others around them.

  5. Still something we haven’t learned from the US: our system of direct voting is corruption-prone and faulty. Electoral college or proportional representation is a lot better.

    1. Philippine elections are corrupt and faulty because the voters are corrupt and faulty. It isn’t that the system is inherently wrong. It starts and ends with the people using it.

      BTW, the US election system IS INHERENTLY INEFFICIENT. As is its government structure. AS a practical matter, America’s founders decided to do it this way to prevent any one group from completely dominating the whole government.

      Still, it does not prevent people from colluding with one another to manipulate and “game” the system.

  6. We will never learn from anybody….we are too stubborn to learn. We will always elect incompetent leaders; barely literate leaders; ShowBiz personalities leaders , whose heads are empty.
    So, no matter how many observers you send to the U.S. election. They cannot understand the American political culture, for a month or two months stay. I’ve been here for many years. And, still it’s hard for me to figure out; how the mentality of American voters go.

  7. I blame our gravity defying ability to continue to chose either ignorance or simply be lazy about doing anything. The concept of work escapes most of us, even those that have spent years studying or attempting to gain even the most lowly of degrees.
    Sure we work for money, for survival, for trivial things, but when it comes to caring about the general welfare of our country as a whole as well as our future, or the future of our nation, we don’t really give a flying fuck about it. We can try, as a whole to look like we’re giving a flying fuck, the government too tries to look like it’s doing something, but in the end…we’re all lazy bastards with a wish and a dream but no true willpower to do anything about it. We’re still waiting for our Fairy Godmother to help us out and magically make everything better.
    Perhaps iots would have been better if the US hadn’t let us go…or if Joma Sison would finally takeover (though if he and his ever did win or conquer the country, I’ll leave this Pearl of the Orient for other freer pastures).

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