How can the Philippines continue to function over the remaining two years until President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III steps down after the completion of his term in 2016? In the last two years, Congress has limped along under the weight of overwhelming public distrust. And now that a presidential slush fund that is the brainchild of BS Aquino’s administration alone and no one else’s has been deemed unconstitutional, the President himself may be facing the next two years as no more than a lame duck. With more than one billion pesos at risk of having to be clawed back into the national coffers, describing the President as such would be the understatement of the decade.
Then again, why worry about how much or how little functionality the Philippines will retain now that its brains trust and executive faculties have been rendered inutile? The Philippines at its core is like a chicken. Chop a chicken’s head off, and it can continue flapping around. The eminent journal Scientific American also confirms that the other legend — that cockroaches can survive for weeks after it’s been decapitated — is, indeed, true. The research into this facinating subject reveals some analogies between the properties of the anatomy of a cockroach that enables it to survive decapitation and the structure of Philippine society…
Insects have clumps of ganglia—nerve tissue agglomerations—distributed within each body segment capable of performing the basic nervous functions responsible for reflexes, “so without the brain, the body can still function in terms of very simple reactions,” Tipping says. “They could stand, react to touch and move.”
And it is not just the body that can survive decapitation; the lonely head can thrive, too, waving its antennae back and forth for several hours until it runs out of steam, Kunkel says. If given nutrients and refrigerated, a roach head can last even longer.
Indeed, Philippine society, as many of its esteemed triumphalists are wont to gleefully point out at every opportune time, is “resilient”. It can pretty much muddle along in mediocrity oblivious to Manila’s circuses. Top-level political leadership in the Philippines has all but made itself irrelevant in a country that remains carved up into fiefdoms by local warlords and chieftains who, thanks to the country’s porous and unguarded coastline, can pretty much rule over largely self-sufficient tribal units. Like the headless cockroach and chicken, the Philippines — with or without Imperial Manila — scurries or flaps around propelled by primal social reflexes as a matter of national routine.
Why worry, then?
This, of course, is not a new concept. Filipinos, for so long, have lamented how their national politics is like a game of musical chairs — lots of movement with very little (if any) trickle-down impact on 99 percent of their lot. One Filipino president, for example, may differ from another in name but hardly differentiates in substance. They are all the same at the core.
You wonder then what the whole point in all of Manila’s political convulsions is. Competing with the chatter surrounding the Supreme Court ruling that Secretary Butch Abad’s Disbursement Acceleration Program is crooked by design is Senator Miriam Santiago’s “trending” cancer battle. It’s a personal drama, of course, and no one would wish cancer on their worst enemy. But just the same, the question of whether or not a Senator’s cancer challenge would pass that hypothetical So What? test administered by the average Filipino schmoe when he tunes in to the news after spending a steaming day scraping together five pesos for his next pagpag meal is an interesting one to mull over.
Do Filipinos really care?
Perhaps. But likely not about the stuff we regard as “important”.
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