4 reasons why equality and justice cannot be achieved in the Philippines

With news that dozens of Philippine public servants have been pocketing public funds for years through what is dubbed the pork barrel scam consistently dominating the headlines of major publications around the country since 2013, one wonders why the majority of the Filipino public still haven’t stormed the office of the President or Congress to demand for the heads of those involved yet.

Not that I condone it but in some parts of the world, public servants involved in crimes against humanity would have been lynched by the mob or held in custody as soon as news of the controversy got out. Not on this side of the globe though. Despite dozens of lawmakers being implicated by a list from alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, the Department of Justice has been dragging its feet in investigating the allegations. It’s either they lack the resources or they are too incompetent to do it or even worse, they might not even be doing anything about it. Either way, it just proves that it’s more fun for thieves and scammers in the Philippines.

The callous thievery by government officials will not likely stop any time soon since the perpetrators are confident that the general public is indifferent and uncaring of the issues anyway. Recent protests rallies on the streets of Manila indicate that only a handful of Filipinos cared enough to go out and express their disgust over the incompetence of the government in prosecuting the perpetrators. It is also a sad indication of the Filipino people’s misplaced priorities and lack of foresight.

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What is quite disturbing is the majority’s tolerance for President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino’s selective justice. The President only demonizes a select few in the media while declaring his allies implicated in the scam as innocent. It is a move that is tantamount to saying that investigating his allies is not his priority.

Allegations that no less than the President’s own Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad is included in the lists (there are several versions of the lists) of those who personally benefited from the pork scam has been dismissed as mere black propaganda. Never mind that one of the lists came from someone who is already in custody and cannot communicate with any of the President’s political enemies.

It has always baffled me why Filipinos in general are too patient with the incompetence and mediocrity around them. One classic example of this phenomenon is the Filipino people’s tolerance for the squalid conditions in Manila’s international airport. Millions of Filipino OFWs and their families go through that airport on a regular basis but despite consistently being voted as the worst airport in the world for consecutive years, there is hardly enough demand for action to be taken to improve it. In fact in every election, Filipinos put the same types of bozos back into office. It’s no surprise that the cycle of thievery, incompetence and mediocrity continues. You can be forgiven for thinking that Filipinos actually love the status quo and don’t want to change anything at all. If they did, they would have done something different to make it happen.

Years of writing about Philippine culture and politics have left me wondering what it would take for Filipinos to finally say, “Enough is enough!” and do something — anything — about the wretched conditions in the Philippines. Now I have come up with several possible explanations as to why:

Patronage politics rules!

Patronage politics rules!

(1) Filipinos are really satisfied with the status quo. Because of the culture of patronage politics or what is called the padrino system in the local vernacular, some Filipinos who have relatives and friends in government benefit a lot from the situation and would not want to rock the boat. They tend to turn a blind eye to the shenanigans even when they know it is wrong. Under the table deals are tolerated to facilitate the processing of transactions.

It’s the same with Filipinos who have relatives and friends who own companies that are engaged in illegal activities. Why would they rat on their relatives if their very lifestyle depends on keeping their mouth shut? This is precisely why pork barrel scam “whistleblower” Benhur Luy took years before he broke his silence about scams his relative Janet Lim Napoles was into. Luy was enjoying a “comfortable” lifestyle as a result of keeping his mouth shut while working for Napoles. Some people actually think that he wouldn’t even speak up against the crime if there had been no falling out between him and Napoles.

The Philippines is renowned for its clan politics.

The Philippines is renowned for its clan politics.

(2) Filipinos are afraid of change. Proof of this is when the voters keep putting the same type of politicians in office on election day. Most Filipinos are also afraid of the unknown. They won’t put their trust on an unpopular candidate even if the said candidate has better credentials and the wisdom to lead the nation compared to the others. Filipinos always think that a familiar name is the lesser evil. This is why there are a lot of politicians in the Philippines who come from the same family. Their performance is also the same no matter how long their family has been serving in government – mediocre.

(3) Filipinos are still waiting for someone to be their hero. Whoever it is the Filipinos are waiting for, it’s not going to come from the upper classes. As explained in Item Number One, there are Filipinos who are happy with the status quo and most of them are from the upper classes. They are also preoccupied with their latest gadgets like the latest iPhone and MacBook pros.

Most Filipinos from the upper class would rather spend their spare time partying or watching shows on local and cable television than go out to rally on the streets under the heat of the sun. Their wealth and resources keep them preoccupied. This makes us wonder what the Filipinos from the lower classes preoccupy themselves with in their spare time.

Instead of fighting for equality, most Filipinos are happy with their wretched existence.

Instead of fighting for equality, most Filipinos are happy with their wretched existence.

[Photo courtesy PinoyExchange.com.]

If members of the lower classes don’t have access to the same resources that people from the upper class have, they should be frustrated enough by now to clamor for equality. One can imagine them storming the gated communities after a series of unfortunate events in the country but fortunately for the members of the upper classes, this hasn’t happened yet.

It seems most Filipinos from the lower class have come to accept their wretched fate and are just waiting for someone to save them. It doesn’t help that television shows often portray Filipinos from the lower classes as saints. Religion also plays a role in making some Filipinos believe that being poor is next to godliness just like what the Bible say “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth .The dole out from the government probably helps to keep them “happy” too.

Filipinos treat their public servants like royalty.

Filipinos treat their public servants like royalty.

(4) Filipinos are very timid and submissive in general. Because of these traits, tyrants can easily subdue Filipinos. Hundreds of years of being ruled by their Western colonizers have probably taken a toll on the Filipino psyche. It seems questioning their public servants doesn’t come naturally to the average Filipino. Most Filipinos see government officials as someone who has authority over them instead of someone who should be working for the welfare of the people.

Those are just some of theories I have come up with in trying to understand why years of abuse has not moved majority of Filipinos into fighting back their aggressors. I have to admit that sometimes I wonder too if the science of phrenology is true in the case of Filipinos. In the film Django Unchained by Quentin Tarantino, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, the racist Calvin Candie, explained the theory in a scene:

“Why don’t they kill us?” asks Calvin Candie, the southern slave owner in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. He wants to know why the African slaves he brutalises do not rise up and take revenge. Before long, he has the skull of a recently deceased slave on the dinner table. “The science of phrenology,” he announces, “is crucial to understanding the separation of our two species.” He hacks away at the back of the skull with a saw, removing a section of the cranium and pointing to an allegedly enlarged area. In African slaves, Candie claims, this bump is found in the region of the brain associated with “submissiveness”.

It would be interesting to know if the average Filipino skull really does have a bump associated with submissiveness and to prove if the science of Phrenology is true. But of course some people would accuse me of patronizing a debunked science that only helped to justified slavery in the 1800s. It is remarkable how even slave owners back then were baffled why their slaves didn’t fight back despite the abuse they cop.

Slavery still exists today in subtle ways especially in the Philippines. Filipinos can claim to be free from their foreign colonizers but they cannot claim to be free from the tyranny from within.

49 Replies to “4 reasons why equality and justice cannot be achieved in the Philippines”

      1. Thank you for writing the truth and reality about this country and it’s people. It hurts but it’s the truth.

  1. On a similarly non-scientific note (though not as bad as phrenology), I’ve been wondering to what extent the hot climate of the Philippines could have played a part in its culture of laziness and slacking. This would require comparison with all the other hot and humid countries out there, and I know there are more reasons than just temperature why the dominant colonizing nations rose up in colder climes. I’m just saying it could be one of the many factors.

    1. Sorry to say, but that theory has been debunked so many times with countries like Singapore, Taiwan and the Middle East nations situated in tropical to arid climes yet enjoy economic prosperity. You’re better off questioning the culture and attitude of Filipinos as to why they are where they are now.

    2. @Dave

      Climate does play a huge role in the behaviour of the people. However, Singapore also suffers from extreme humidity and abundant rainfall but the Singaporeans still manage to become industrious and productive people. The country even has less natural resources than the Philippines do but it didn’t stop them from becoming a powerful country.

  2. Liked this article so much because this is reality for us pilipinos which somehow affects everyone’s daily activities and the way we do things in our country . It became our culture ingrained in us and somehow would not go away.

    1. @Victor

      Thanks for reading and sharing! It is hard to unlearn bad behaviour that has been ingrained for hundreds of years especially when the people are a bit arrogant to accept faults.

  3. Jus my shallow thoughts but maybe city poor are lethargic from poor sanitation and malnutrition while rural poor are happy enough with nature’s bounty to get out of this rut?

    1. Happy, but incredibly naive and prone to superstition as most country folk tend to be which leaves them prey for exploitation by criminals. An intellectual would be at his wits’ end attempting to live in the sticks let alone converse with them.

    2. @Judy

      I read somewhere that high exposure to lead can cause low IQ and even brain damage. This can be addressed by reducing the pollution in the air.

      1. But wouldn’t rich and urban poor be breathing the same air? Most cars run on unleaded petrol these days thankfully…

    1. @Judy

      Indeed, those in power would rather keep the masses ignorant. Ignorance keeps them gullible enough to believe in propaganda.

  4. Lamenting the inaction of others while unwilling to take action oneself, so funny!

    Everyone here is a armchair hero only, which is just the way the govt likes it.

    People that support this website are generally “all typing and no action” that exhort others to do what they cannot do themselves.

    They even have the gall to demean the spirit and intelligence of those who are TAKING TO THE STREETS ACTUALLY PROTESTING against the govt on these issues and thinking their efforts at keyboard heroism are more superior.

    Hypocritical, and expect others to do their dirty work. Reminds me of those in power… Only the people here are powerless with that attitude.. GG

    1. Better than all action and no thinking. That’s essentially the Philippines summarised in one sentence, thus;

      The Philippines is a nation that is a product of lots of action driven by mediocre thinking.

    2. @Santa

      When did I “demean the spirit and intelligence of those who are TAKING TO THE STREETS ACTUALLY PROTESTING against the govt…?”

      What makes you think am I “unwilling to take action“? Please be specific.

      The article is an analysis of why majority of Filipinos are unwilling to take the necessary steps to fight for equality and justice. It’s obviously not referring to the handful of those who do fight for equality and justice.

      Please read and understand before commenting.

    3. I dunno, man. I bet if they wrote the same articles in the old fashioned newspapers half of the writers would probably “disappear” in less than a year. You should know being a journalist in the Philippines equates to walking on a tightrope above a river of crocodiles.

      1. I doubt that any of the writers of these essays are using their real names or are living in the Philippines.

    4. Writing is also an action in itself. Writings are also the fuel for those of us who go out there and protest. Do you think Jose Rizal went out to the streets and shouted to heavens his dismay? He didn’t, as he had in mind another form of protest: writing. He wrote until the day of his death, and his writings went on to influence generations of Filipinos.

      Now, the way this site criticizes activists may get in your nerves and that is understandable. But you should know that this site only does so because it feels that the activists we have in our country are protesting on dubious notions; and it’s all because they’re basing their anger on the wrong information. They’re not seeing or reading the right stuff, see (or worse, they’re not reading at all.)

    5. Based on this guy’s assertion, Rizal and his La Solidaridad crew are guilty of inaction, because they prefer to write rather than go to the streets to protest? C’mon, street rallies are so yesterday. They’ve ceased to work in the Philippines. Think of the failed “People Power” bid Cory tried to raise against Arroyo back in 2005.

  5. This is site is more of showing the Filipinos the “ways” and the “whys”. It’s more of opening our eyes to what is real and what should be done; to awaken from deep coma. And it’s up to us to act and change.

  6. I been sayin it for years: WHY are the Filipino’s., who outnumber the oligarchs 200,000:1,not just throwing the oligarchs in jail(or into a noose?)? and yet they bow down to these oligarchs.Yes, these oligarchs who treat them like shit,pay them like dogs and laugh in their collective faces while doing it?

    SO, WTF IS WRONG WITH THE FILIPINO? HUH? WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES THEM SUCH SUBMISSIVE SLAVES? It is not the good pay, NO…it sure as shit ain’t that!

  7. The thing is, the pattern of Philippine society, which is master and servant, chieftain and tribespeople, lord and serf, has remained nearly unchanged. These tribal, clique and feudal relationships remain the normal societal structure even at the barangay level. I even heard a friend tell me that “alipin sa gigilid” is still prevalent in Batangas or somewhere there. Philippine society’s basic structure had been based on maintaining inequality. If we want change in Philippine society, you really have to change everything from the ground up, and that includes the culture. Thing is, the change would be so great that you’d have people complaining about it. Yet, this is the change that’s needed.

    1. ChinoF,

      Not only the culture is rotten but almost everything else as well. The educational system, the public transport system, the entire aspect of “respect”-system (based on air) is rotten, the laws are rotten (no divorce, no abortion), the contitution is rotten; the barangay chiefs/captains-system is rotten (Did I forget something?). Its outrageous and pathetic that a country needs a specific RH law to educate people in sex. So dont know where to begin to improve this rotten country. Can there be order in a overwhelmingly chaotic country?

      1. @ Mr. Haighton, U r correct.When looked at from any viewpoint, THE Philippines is just a totally corrupt failed state. The poverty rate is appalling, the way the rich dominate the poor is psychopathic and on and on and on.

        As a froeigner I always find it best to keep a low profile, protect myself at all times and enjoy the beach as much as possible.The country is soooo far fucked, to make a change in anything is to choose a starting point as one would choose a winning raffle ticket.

        1. @THOM

          I myself didnt encounter any corruption or form of bribing. While I am sure I am considered (in their eyes) to be “the rich westerner”, so I should or could be the easy victim for them.

          Like you – Thom – I am also a foreigner but sadly I cant and couldnt find anything that suits and applies to DOT’s famous statement “its more fun in the Philippines”.
          The only 2 things I liked and like are: the low cost of living and the climate. Thats not much, is it?
          The list of things I dont like, is much longer.

          I dont keep a low-profile. I always state my frustration to my partner, although I cant personally blame her for all the chaotic situations. I refuse to lay down my head and accept all their mediocraties (= below zero standards).

  8. I notice is that the Filipinos kinda lack ambition and desire to create a better country. Well part of the problem is really the culture.
    Looking at our history, those who had ambition got short of end of the stick in life and history.

    Another problem is the Philippines stagnated after the end of Marcos. The administrations after him had little to few improvement in infrastructure to improving the lives and and still relies on what Marcos started or planned during his reign. After he was removed, they just wasted their opportunity in order to create a better Philippines and delve to much in their hate and vengeance.

    1. True, very true. There was actually NO improvement at all. Within 6 years the Philippines went 20 years back in time.

  9. Thanks Ilda; another thought provoking article from you. The Nation is grateful from blog writers like you…I may have also a “bump” inside my cranium skull. But, at least, it may have grown smaller. Because, I am speaking up…

    Filipinos are conditioned by the colonizers and our politicians to be submissive. They are brainwashed that those who are in power have full control of their lives. Patronage politics enhance this belief. They are also apathetic and desensitized by their wretched conditions. That they accept their fates with joy; and calls it God’s will. They are too dependent on God and religion. “God helps those who help themselves”…a proverb states.

    Besides, they are easily deluded by political promises. Easily swayed by good looks of candidates; and song-and-dances in political rallies. Never mind, what the candidate can do for them.

    Germany was deceived by Hitler and his Nazi party. And the German people are very intelligent people. How much more of the ignorant Filipinos.

    1. The part about Hitler is not necessarily true. He actually was pretty honest about what he wanted to do. He hated the Jew Bankers and wanted to kill them as well as all of the rest of the Jews. Hitler saw them and they’re ‘criminal’ use of ‘usury’ as injurious to the German people and a means to their enslavement via the ‘Treaty of Versailles’. As such,Hitler felt supremely justified in what he was doing.
      So did the people who dropped atomic bombs on Japan.Yep,Very justified.

  10. I actually think Filipinos let Politicians get away with what they are doing, because deep inside they know that if they had a chance to be in their shoes, they would steal as much as they could too. Sorry to say, but Filipinos really have a criminal mind, always scheming how to pull a fast one.

    Another problem here is that you have that god awful & stupid American justice system. You can post bail to go out and rob again. You stay free until convicted, which can take many years. In most countries in Europe the state files charges, arrests you and you stay in jail while the state further investigates until you have your court case. You are only released once you are acquitted or the case is dismissed. If convicted, the time spent in jail till trial will be subtracted from your sentence as time served. And trust me, you don’t get arrested for nothing.

    1. I swear it’s like the country loves copying everything what’s wrong with Uncle Sam’s government as if it is the ultimate form of administration. Ethiopia falls under the same mentality and I don’t need to mention how they’re faring either.

  11. “One classic example of this phenomenon is the Filipino people’s tolerance for the squalid conditions in Manila’s international airport. Millions of Filipino OFWs and their families go through that airport on a regular basis but despite consistently being voted as the worst airport in the world for consecutive years, there is hardly enough demand for action to be taken to improve it.”

    Ehem for millions of filipinos NAIA is a palace compared to the shithole they live in!

  12. Sad but it may be true, Filipinos are submissive, Why else would the majority of Asia’s domestic helpers be Filipinos? Not because we’re the poorest.
    I’m not for protesting on the streets any more. I think it’s been proven that it doesn’t work. The solution to our problem is rather simple, electing good public servants.

    1. Electing good public servants? OMG, that has failed too.

      There is a solution…but it is not very pretty and it may require ‘ultimate’ sacrifice,lots of it.Other-wise, same shit will be happening 50 yrs. from now.WORD.

  13. Great article.

    Sometimes i think filipinos….specifically the “pinoys”… are incapable of accepting their “mistake”. Instead of admitting they’ve been duped by more that two decades of propaganda that they’d rather tune out reality than accepting that their knighted heroes and canonized saints were actually people with the same self-interests as their vanquished foes.

    I also think that pinoys are plain lazy. Rizal has spoken of this indolence. The filipinos are those who toil under the heat of the sun to make sure there is rice on the table of the pinoys, or those who watch abs-cbn, gma,etc. to form their opinions and make their electoral decisions. Pinoys don’t analyze issues. They just wait for boy abunda’s magic mirror’s dictates.

    So to the genuine filipinos out there, the small suffering few who feel the pain of being made to pay taxes by kim, may they someday grow in number and make a collective roar that would be heard by the nation lulled into passivity.

    1. @Ici


      While I was writing the article, I actually wanted to add item number 5. “Filipinos are just plain lazy” but decided to scrap it. I thought people like you would come to the same conclusion anyway.

      I mean, it’s so obvious that part of the reason equality and justice elude Filipinos is because majority cannot be bothered to do something about it. Sometimes it’s just not worth helping people who do not want to help themselves.

  14. With Sereno removing the rights of the associate justices to vote for person to occupy a vacated associate justice position, it is evident where that story will end up. Guess who she’s eying to put in as a new associate justice, Grace Pulido-Tan.

    Sounds like another “lutong makaw” by the yellow chef in the yellow kitchen. Nope, no justice there in SC, the highest court of the land.

  15. God ensured anti-trust legislation when he divided the nations.. If there’s too much oppression in the Philippines, GET THE HELL OUT!

    OFWs have the biggest contribution to the Philippines since we’re in other countries, new graduates will have jobs to occupy.. Just sucks how it’s so hard to get out of the country..

  16. Until the “Mass Consciousness” of the Filipinos is based on negativity and scarcity, nothing will change. The Catholic Faith, of becoming lowly and waiting for a “savior” to come further add to this “mass consciousness”. We have to change this through deeper educational process among the masses.

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