One sure sign that you are lost is when you suddenly realise in the course of a journey that you have ended up back in the same place where you had started off. It means that whilst you had expended valuable energy taking steps, those steps had not taken you any further from where you had originally set off.
On the above principle, we can say that Philippine society is a lost society. To the confronting question most often thrown about to assess the situation of our lot…
Has anything changed in the Philippines?
…most Filipinos will answer within a single breath:
Nothing.The fact that today’s so-called “activists” now rally behind the catchphrase “Never Again” is proof that the Filipino people have been running around in circles over the last 30 years.
And so, taking stock of those 30 years within which nothing new of much consequence to the wretched lives of the majority had been delivered by successive governments, it could be said that the idea of what the way forward is remains nebulous. Beyond “never again” there is hardly any semblance of a road map to a destination being discussed or evaluated in today’s political discourse. Indeed, even the destination itself remains undefined. Without that critical definition, the question…
What do we envision the Philippines will be in six years’ time?
…will never be answered by any politician.
The proof is in the devil’s details. Dig deeper into what any one of the presidential candidates grandstanding before the Filipino Voter today are saying and one will only find a void where substance should have been. There is nothing in what they say that describes any semblance of a vision for the Philippines six years hence.
A six-year plan is not a tall ask for a Chief Executive. Real strategic visions extend over the decades. Six year plans are stuff written by 20-year-old corporate interns — not by seasoned executives.
And yet, no such plan exists.
It’s hardly any surprise that Filipinos have become desperate. Without a way forward, Filipinos can only slog from one day to another looking out mainly for themselves. Indeed, the whole premise of being a “nation” rests on the notion that said nation is an on-going concern with an expected persistence extending to the long-term future. If Filipinos have it in their minds that the Philippines will essentially remain the same basket case over the foreseeable future, then there is, suffice to say, no need to be looking to that future. And so we see the result of that condition today. Filipinos have withdrawn from that future and now simply live by the day.
Nowhere is this sameness more evident in the crop of presidential candidates we see today. They are all the same bozos mouthing the same messages.
How then can we expect Filipinos to be inspired by their future?
Not a chance.
* * *Last weekend, a huge crowd gathered at the Philippine Arena to witness what was essentially a big-budget Eat Bulaga episode. The extravaganza featured the long-awaited coming together of the phenomenal “ALDub” love team, Alden Richards and Maine ‘Yaya Dub’ Mendoza. As such, much of the show centred around the build-up and, over the remaining half of the time, the protracted mating dance live on-stage between the two under the glare of the limelight. Tens of millions of Filipinos gawked at this spectacle and sent out an equal number of tweets that catapulted the hashtag #ALDubEBTamangPanahon to record-busting “trending” heights — an achievement that is a huge source of pride for many Filipinos.
How a pair of celebrities whose talents don’t go much beyond doing “dubsmash” videos (short selfie videos dubbed with famous sounds) and issuing flirtatious soundbytes at one another could capture the full attention of much of the Philippines for months has attracted a lot of analyses. Ultimately, however, the most remarkable aspect of this phenomenon is how such a mediocre media product as dubsmashing loveteams could actually capture such an enormous audience and leave the GMA Network (owners of the Eat Bulaga franchise) laughing all the way to the bank with their truckload of easy advertising and endorsement money.
Perhaps a desperately lost society such as that of the Philippines’ needs something to hang on to. It is quite unfortunate that the future is no longer an enticing enough hook for Filipinos to bite at.
This is the real challenge the Philippines’ political leadership needs to recognise. A lost person can be helped with a relatively simple set of tools — a compass, and a map. Even more ideal than that would be an expert guide. We are still waiting for someone to step up to that role for real.
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