Looking to the United States for lessons? Why bother?

In light of the recent hurricane Sandy that struck New York, and the upcoming presidential elections in the United States, it seems that our political leaders here in the Philippines are now suddenly striking up platitudes of “looking to the United States for lessons” on how to do this or that, what not to do, and most certainly bizarre (or not) of all, the application of political will.

I swear, I’m not making this up. Senator Loren Legarda was quoted as such by the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

“Their sense of preparedness is amazing and the political will of their leaders like Mayor Bloomberg is laudable considering he closed down the subways, forcibly evacuated residents as he did in Hurricane Irene,” Senator Loren Legarda said when asked if there was anything the Philippines could learn from the US response to the “Frankenstorm.”

“Even President Obama has been on national TV warning people to take it seriously,” Legarda told the Inquirer.

Add to this the news item that two (2) Comelec officers are heading to the US to “observe their elections”. Never mind that Grace Padaca, who is currently facing graft charges prior to her appointment to Comelec chair, is one of those who get to go.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said one of the issues he would like the poll officials to learn is about campaign finance.

“Marami kasing seminars yan. Two days before maraming seminars yan so we can learn yung processes especially yung campaign finance kasi complicated yung campaign finance nila,” Brillantes explained.

[There will be many seminars two days before (the elections) so we can learn processes especially campaign finance since theirs is complicated.]

However, he noted that the Comelec cannot yet adopt for the May 2013 polls what the officials would learn from the US.

He explained that to implement changes to the conduct of the May 2013 polls, the government would have to amend the Fair Elections law or Republic Act 9006.


[Photo courtesy Herald Sun.]

Of course, it would be easy to conclude that Legarda’s statement is apparently one of dumbstruck awe, complete with gaping jaw, because such “political will” is virtually non-existent here in the Philippines. And with regards to Padaca and company heading to the US to “observe the elections”, it’s also easy to conclude that it’s simply a waste of taxpayers’ money. It’s a free opportunity to campaign the Liberal Party (LP) to absentee voters in the US, and even quite possibly, for Padaca to forever escape her graft charges, but I digress.

The point I want to make here is simple. Filipinos are hoping to learn something from the US in light of recent events? You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

Why, suddenly, are we looking to current events in the US for lessons on both disaster management and election conduct, when our own situation here has provided us with ample time and opportunity to learn from our mistakes? Is this yet another manifestation of our behavior that we don’t recognize something good in our midst until a foreign entity points it out for us?

Do try to remember that Ondoy, Peping, Sendong, and the nameless habagat have all passed us by, yet our recovery from typhoons is still lethargic; the infrastructure is still inadequate, and we’re still brandishing our mediocrity as “resilience”. Do try to remember that we’ve had five (5) elections, including Cory Aquino’s win, to at least eke out a learning curve on how we elect our leaders, yet we’re still managing to choose mediocre and severely under-qualified politicians into our government. Erap and Noynoy – there, I spelled out two outstanding examples.

If there are a few things that Filipinos should be learning from the United States, ironically it’s that helping out without grandstanding ultimately helps the community better, and is in everyone else’s best interests. They should also be learning that instead of waiting for and being ever-reliant on government hand-outs, people should stop brandishing their victim card and start picking themselves up. Third, if there’s one overall lesson that Filipinos should learn from the United States, it’s that we can’t copy ideas from them without adapting them to our own situation; it has never worked for us. We’ve been stuck in reverse as a republic.

That “political will” that Legarda spoke of will not be obtained simply by gawking at New York’s leaders; it will take a change of personality for Filipino politicians to simply act in the best interests of the country and put them above their own personal interests. The Comelec sending election observers to the United States to find a way to minimize poll fraud is doubtful; perhaps finding a way to legitimize skullduggery will be more likely to happen.

The US can be looked to for lessons, yes, but for us to apply them to our own situation? There’s nothing the Americans can do to help us there. It takes a bit of thinking to do so. We’re on our own there, unless we really want to be considered as the 51st state of the Union.

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About FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. - But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

49 Comments on “Looking to the United States for lessons? Why bother?”

  1. What do you expect from somebody who was a vice president candidate for the forerunner to Noynoy in the winnability category? You can’t pick your family but you can pick your friends and you sure as hell can pick the presidential candidate you will support . In her case she hitched her wagon to him which speaks to 1) her judgement 2) her sense of opportunism 3) the brilliance of our electorate that this guy is a candidate let alone one who almost won . And she is talking about learning? I am not an Obama fan but I won’t argue his education. Lot of the idols of the electorate here , you can’t make that same claim. Current president went to Ateneo. Until he was 50 what did he do with that education? Masa would have voted him in even if he went to Anonymous State University as long as he was Cory’s son in the wake of her unfortunate demise.

  2. These politicians on their endless free trips ( tolentino, singson et al now in seoul) express wonder at what the 1st world and civilised countries achieve.
    Its because they dont have lazy, corrupt freeloaders and dreamers, but original thinkers and doers who are well educated and dynamic.
    (i have recently returned from meetings in singapore – their public engineers are creative, knowledgeable, committed, hard working, high achievers and always learning and looking for best quality and fast solutions)
    P-noy and his incompetents simply watch as the rest of the world progresses and busy themselves with minutae and their personal sidelines, always planning and promising jam tomorrow but achieving nothing of significance, being either afraid to take decisions or unclear what to even do.
    legarda – well noone takes her seriously

  3. The USA is on the verge of being a failed state – much like the Philippines – so the only lesson it can offer the Philippines is how to manage a continued and continual decline.

    If these free-loading thieves must travel overseas to see a “political will”, send them to Singapore where the government has a political will, actually gets things done and has successfully transformed itself time and time again in the face of global changes.

    1. The US is on the verge of being a failed state for the same reason the Philippines is. Corrupt politicians who will do anything to hold power, the ignorance of the electorate, and yes voter fraud. I see the same things here in the Philippines that I saw at home. I could go on and on and on about this but I choose to save my breath cause nobody will listen anyway.

    2. If the United States is in the verge of failing (and that I doubt very strongly, but let it pass), it will fail like Japan has: a political, economic, and in some respects an educational black hole, but with a citizenry still vibrant enough to astound the world with cultural and technological marvels – in other words, a society that prevails despite, not because of, its leaders.

      In no way is the United States going to become the Philippines, unless your enterprising nature has failed you completely.

      1. @Suibon

        US of A will fail like Japan has? Is Japan a failure now?

        If Obama still wins, IMO, it will be a from frying pan (his first term) to fire (his reelection – and if reelected, he’s going to inherit a lot of mess) premise for US of A.

        I agree with you that US of A is not going to become Philippines though.

        1. Politically, yes: since Koizumi stepped down in September 2006 due to term limits, only the incumbent Yoshihiko Noda and his predecessor Naoto Kan have held office for more than a year; the rest (and Kan) bumbled and stumbled their way out of office, victims of perennially low approval ratings, Freudian slips, political deadlock, and apparent health problems.

  4. @ Gogs

    Political statements are easily misunderstood, the statement by Senator Legarda is an example. In politics, what she said simply means, “good job” Mr. Bloomberg without overstating what the mayor of New York had done. Journalists who have a clear understanding of their job would know what Legarda stated.

    1. The Senator is trying to sell this expense to the tax payer and also make it appear they are doing something useful. We will have different interpretations of her achieved credibility. Not to be understated is the pinoy capacity or incapacity to learn. 1998, 2004 and 2010. I will have my interpretation and others will likely differ.

  5. Yeah, Intead of waiting for our leaders, letstart it by ourselves. I admire Loren’s efforts in reaching out to our people. Let’s do our part as citizens and prepare for possible disasters.

  6. I admire our government’s effort in pushing this. It may be impossible for us to match with other country’s measures but we should take this issue seriously..Matigas lang ulo natin minsan…

  7. I don’t understand the writer’s points here. The writer goes on to say that we can’t learn from other states, if we do not take it into context…but isn’t that obvious? We can’t learn from the Art of War, if we do not take it into our own context. Of course, we have to take into consideration that we are different from the US.

  8. If I read it correctly, the writer is blaming the Filipinos for constantly voting in people who he/she would love to bash on paper. Speak for yourself, dear writer, and keep your opinions to yourself. I’m proud that we realize the leadership of other states. I’m proud that we are still learning. I’m proud of being a Filipino, and unlike you, I don’t whine about our problems.

    1. I always say the same thing to those of you who complain about the scope and tone of this or any other blog:

      1) go somewhere else where their world view conforms with yours. There are many places on the web. Seek fulfilment elsewhere.
      2) Without places like GRP the alternative is to bend over and take it up the *** and take everything the Philippine government tells you at face value.

      3) Nice squadron you got there to come in here and divebomb.

      1. @ Gogs

        You are just benignO’s many minions. Until he decides to delete my replies to his post, GRP will continue to hear from me. I visit sites that talk about astrotheology, atheism, the occult, the endtimes, alien agenda, etc so I think
        benignO would always be pleased to see my comments here at GRP.

        1. LA,

          Your comment:

          “Until he decides to delete my replies to his post, GRP will continue to hear from me.”

          Too early for you to play the victimhood card.

          And yet you have the chutzpah to comment –

          “I think benignO would always be pleased to see my comments here at GRP.”

          Pomposity in living color, heh.

          Jeez…

      2. divebombing
        i shall call it blogbombing – inane, predictable and meaningless comments from the trolls intended to dumb down a topic rather than articulate any genuine opinion and to contribute to the overall discussion/debate, or to actually listen and learn
        a negative force against positive change

    2. ‘If I read it correctly, the writer is blaming the Filipinos for constantly voting in people who he/she would love to bash on paper.’

      No — the point of the article is that all these striving to improve our lot is useless if we don’t know what to do with the knowledge we gain, or worse, we don’t act on it. It has happened time and time again; witness how we cope, or forget to cope, or cope? oh you mean a smile? with natural disasters of any stripe.

  9. I really think this is really ignorant for the writer so say this: We’re on our own there, unless we really want to be considered as the 51st state of the Union.” We should humble ourselves enough to learn from other countries, and not be so prideful to say that we should solve this problem on our own. The purpose of diplomacy and globalization, is for different countries to learn from one another. To say that we just need to focus on ourselves, is to hint that we should be like communist China.

    1. He isn’t necessarily dismissing our efforts at learning to cope with disasters as he is skeptical about our ability to understand and utilize any insight we glean from all this jet-setting – which is not as far-fetched as you might think.

  10. I don’t remember there being a FIRST, and a SECOND. Dumerecho ka na ng THIRD. Anuba, gulo mo talaga. Haha —> “Third, if there’s one overall lesson that Filipinos should learn from the United States, it’s that we can’t copy ideas from them without adapting them to our own situation; it has never worked for us.”

    1. In the interests of reading comprehension, here’s the first:

      ‘… ironically it’s that helping out without grandstanding ultimately helps the community better, and is in everyone else’s best interests.’

      Then the second:

      ‘They should also be learning that instead of waiting for and being ever-reliant on government hand-outs, people should stop brandishing their victim card and start picking themselves up.’

      And the third (which you so graciously read):

      ‘Third, if there’s one overall lesson that Filipinos should learn from the United States, it’s that we can’t copy ideas from them without adapting them to our own situation; it has never worked for us.’

  11. THIS JUST PISSES ME OFF:
    “Do try to remember that Ondoy, Peping, Sendong, and the nameless habagathave all passed us by, yet our recovery from typhoons is still lethargic; the infrastructure is still inadequate, and we’re still brandishing our mediocrity as “resilience”.”
    IKAW FallenAngel???? ASAN KA NUN, HA?!!! NAGVOLUNTEER KA BA? NAGRESCUE KA BA? NAGPAKAIN KA BA NG LIBO-LIBO SA MGA RELIEF CENTERS SA MGA TAONG NAWALAN NG BAHAY? DI MO BA ALAM NA DAMI NAMING NAPAHAMAK SA SEARCH AND RESCUE SA CDO? TAPOS SINASABI MO, LETHARGIC KAMI? IKAW? ANONG NATULONG MO SA MGA TAO NUN? WALA KA NAMAN ALAM!!!!!!!

    1. Di iyon ang sinasabi ni FallenAngel – kung tumulong ka, good for you. What he is harping on about are our emergency plans, our mentality na kahit anong sakuna ang dumating sa buhay mo, iyon at iyon pa rin ang gagawin mo.

      Since you have some experience in helping and feeding people in disaster areas, tell me: beyond that, has your LGU formulated a plan beyond bracing for the next flood and hoarding relief goods? Plans both short- and long-term that befit and benefit your community? Including routine things such as regular maintenance of riverways and extreme stuff such forcible eviction of locals living near or at floodplains, para maiwasan and perwisyo at disgrasya?

      1. Just like what I posted before

        Filipinos are usually “reactive” when it comes to dealing with natural calamities. It would be nice to see Filipinos shift from being “reactive” to “pro-active,” and not just limited to a response to a calamity but also to their everyday lives.

    2. Ah, here it is:

      http://getrealphilippines.com/2012/08/rainy-season-proves-filipinos-are-stuck-in-a-time-loop/

      We are resilient, we are caring, we are all those things I and others say about us, but we do not seek to improve our lot. We don’t seek to avoid disasters; we seek to survive them – a good thing in the short run, but it puts us into a lull, a self-deception that prevents us from actively seeking solutions from problems, convinced we will survive, and just survive. Just. Fucking. Survive.

      To actually thrive? Aye, but to reside in exclusive gated communities or else work abroad, where our hard work actually comes with tangible and long-lasting pay-offs.

  12. I agree! why do we have to bother to look for a lesson from United States, we have our own backyard to look for! we have had so many disasters in our country (i.e. flood, landslide, typhoons et’al) the problem was we never learned from it! we just let ourselves to be used by those opurtunistang politicians around us and those media who’s campaining for donations. after flashing those amount of money on our the TV, we don’t know what was happened then (well business as usual) but in the second thought, I learned few things that we should adopt from United States to be straight forward on saying those harsh words to those idiot politician na meron tayo ngayon…I remembered one time during Obama speech in the congress, while he was on his speech somebody from the congressman shouted ” you lie (obama)” their so brave to say that on their president, I wish I could do the same thing once Nonoy visit us here in KSA, I’ll bring bond paper and marker and write “you sore loooooser go back to your mother womb! Lier! hehehe..

      1. Ah, the jeepney. If you’ll allow me a digression:

        I’ve read GRP1 the book yesterday and agree with virtually everything in it, but I’ve yet to see why the jeepney has to be so vilified, instead of their owners’ beliefs on maintenance, aesthetics, and the environment. To say an idea is old is not to say it is unsound, not without further justification.

  13. Sometimes we learn from other people’s mistakes. And since US is an influential, i dont see anything wrong learning from their mistakes.

  14. Wala naman sigurong masama kung matuto tayo sa pagkakamali nila db?Lalo na sa Amerika,kilala sila sa buong mundo kaya lalabas at lalabas sila sa balita.

  15. To someone who wrote this, what? dont you need other people for you to learn? Ang astig mo naman, o sige wag kang susumod sa mga tips and reminders from our government para makaiwas sa disaster ah.

    1. You don’t need to wait for a US politician to tell you that you need to evacuate your home when the flood waters are rising. Unless you are REALLY REALLY STUPID

      1. It’s not in our behavior to flee anything, for we can survive anything; thus, fleeing simply does not come up as an option. Your common sense is not ours. And no, I am not saying this in an triumphantly exultant air – I am not proud of the fact that we will to endure, and little else. Far from it.

  16. They are wasting their time…Filipinos cannot learn…they will vote for stupid and barely literate ShowBiz personalities…family dynasties will abound…

  17. Why allow Padaca to go out of the country just to observe the elections in the US of A and never allow GMArroyo to have a medical treatment abroad? The KKKKK is quite obvious!
    Does the Philippines really need to observe the US elections? When I think the US and the Philippines have different ‘Election’ problems.

  18. Senator Legarda is either incredibly stupid or utterly malicious in trying to sell us the idea that the US has responded appropriately to Hurricane Sandy. If you analyze their behavior, US federal and state agencies are emulating Philippine government responses to the disaster. Everyone has noted the absence of FEMA in New York; thousands have had to rely on themselves to first ensure that they have some form of shelter and second, to fend off looters. And this agency is supposed to be their federal government’s fast reaction team to any disaster–natural or man-made. They seem to be eager to find newer and increasingly frustrating ways to screw up their jobs.

    Since when is Mayor Bloomberg’s insistence on pushing through with the NYC Marathon an example of political leadership? It was a stupid decision that did not boost morale. It underlined the mayor’s elitist tendencies, his failure to comprehend the urgency of the situation in lower Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs. And like a typical Filipino politician, he reversed his decision based on media pressure.

    You didn’t need to fly to NYC to learn any of this. Just switch on your TV or read it online. But it certainly makes a convenient excuse to go to the US to do some Black Friday shopping following the Thanksgiving holiday.

    1. Well said Johnny, I thought I was the only one seeing this. BTW, it’s not just this disaster, it’s all of them. The last ones to help in a US disaster is US Government agencies. Last to help but first to take all the credit. I lived my whole life there and nobody can BS me about the All knowing,omnipotent US Government. I learned this from 22 years 6 months and 10 days in the US Army

      1. This doesn’t have anything to do with the post here but…

        I just gotta ask — whatever happened to “Be All You Can Be?” Why did the US Army switch over to “Army Strong?” Sounds like Ahhnold before he learned to speak English.

        1. Who knows why the Army does anything…. They probably had some extra money to spend and hired some PR Company to find a new slogan. If you have the money…. Spend it. Kinda like “It’s more fun in the Philippines”. How much did that cost the taxpayer?

  19. According to the sheeples here, either we just bend over or “lumayas na lang sa Pilipinas”.

    Dito ka na nga lang makapaghayag ng opinyong di pinakikinggan sa labas, babarahin ka pa ng “What have you done for the country?”.

  20. They should not bother because the U.S. elections are irrelevant, with only superficial differences between major parties, and both dependent on an economy that requires continuous borrowing and spending.

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