Why democracy is not like a mango tree

Evidently, traditional democracy is failing Filipinos. This failure is in plain sight today in (1) the infantile ‘presidential’ candidates lined up before Filipino voters, (2) the no-substance “debates” surrounding them facilitated by the nation’s so-called ‘thought leaders’, and (3) the abject apathy with which the broader Filipino public regard the future of their country. Philippine-style democracy needs to evolve in order to justify its continued use. Evolve to where or what? That is the big question.


The common wisdom is that democracy cannot serve its purpose if its most crticial ingredient — educated voters — is lacking. Because leaders are chosen by majority vote in a democracy, the quality of said leaders will always mirror the character of that majority. Unfortunately, in the Philippines, the majority simply are not up to the task of applying an intelligent mind to their democractic exercises. The result is plainly direct: Filipinos get leaders that are lacking in intellectual faculties.

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Filipinos need to understand that democratic politics is not like a mango tree. A mango tree is able to turn carabao shit into sweet mango fruit. Democratic politics, unfortunately, does not work in the same way fruit trees do. When Filipino voters crap all over their elections, guess what: said elections bear crap fruit. The Philippine government has a wealth of empirical evidence to support this political theorem which can be expressed in this simple form:

Crap Voters = Crap Leaders

Seen in this new light, the solution to the Philippines’ dysfunctional politics then becomes quite obvious. If Filipinos want to continue to be a “democratic” people, they need turn crap into gold.

The trouble with this solution is that it will take time. The Philippines’ public education system, for one thing, is crap. It will take lots of money spent over many years to upgrade the system to a level of quality that will enable it to churn out Filipinos who know how to think — not just think but think far enough ahead. Specifically, Filipinos need to learn the concept of cause-and-effect. For example, consistently flushing spent chewing gum down a toilet eventually causes blockage which, in turn will cause sewage to flow back up your toilet and onto your bathroom floor, possibly overflowing all over the rest of your house. Filipinos need to learn how to run these sorts of thought experiments in their heads while they are in school.

Second, the Philippines’ media industry keeps piping bucketloads of crap into Filipinos’ screens. We really can’t expect Filipinos to become intelligent active pariticipants in a democracy if their minds continue to be hijacked by pretty celebrities with nothing in between their ears delivering (or, worse, miming and lip-syncing) mediocre acting, dance, and song numbers before the cameras. Unfortunately, disseminating regurgitated material involving marital infidelity, Cinderella-meets-Prince-Charming dramas, and titillating plots with religiously-correct forced endings written by country’s creative classes is a highly-profitable enterprise. But it needs to be recognised that selling cigarettes and fizzy drinks loaded with industrial sweeteners to minors are also highly-profitable industries. There needs to be balance. In the case of the Philippines, tens of millions of youthful minds are going to waste thanks to the mind candy peddled to them by her media industry.

Finally, the nation’s Illustrado class — its opinion-shapers and ‘thought leaders’ — remain incapable of elevating the political discourse and actually leading an intelligent debate. Instead of sustaining a level-headed and sober discussion, they also indulge their taste for Taliban-like personality cults and engage in exchanges with their peers where sound byte hysterics rather than carefully thought through ideas hold greater currency.

Indeed, transforming the Philippines into a modern functioning democracy is a formidable challenge. It will involve change at the most fundamental levels of the society where the way Filipinos think is rooted. The solutions are really not that complicated. Only politics gets in the way of these solutions — which is quite unfortunate; because to fix the politics you need to implement those solutions.

All is not lost. It all begins with the simple concept we need to keep in mind: Democracy is not a mango tree. It does not turn crap into sweet fruit. The sooner we recognise this simple reality, the sooner we will be able to think far enough ahead and implement the right solutions.

9 Replies to “Why democracy is not like a mango tree”

  1. We have a catch-22 at hand with no real solution in sight. I think the deafening silence in the room simply means people are tired and weary with the depressing hopelessness of the country’s situation.

    It may be high-time for the inevitable to take its course:

    Honasan and Trillanes may have a few tricks left up their sleeves. We badly need a reset button and copy-paste Singapore’s constitution.

  2. Failipino need to understand that the mango doesn’t fall too far from the tree. We are all a product of a corrupt culture; therefore, we are the fruit of that corruption–regardless of how religious, educated, and socially sophisticated we think we’ve become as a nation.

  3. First of all, we have never been a “Democracy”. We are A Feudal Oligarchy, with an spicing of Theocracy.

    Democracy to Filipino politicians is: Fool the People; Buy the People; and Off the people.

    People simply think like herds of carabaos, to vote for “no good choice” leaders. These leaders are presented by the ruling Oligarchy class. It is their choice, not yours.

    So, in any election result. It is the same old shit…we will continue to be the basket case of Asia, no matter what you do…

  4. The simplest solution that will get a lot of results immediately is getting the Filipinos off the mental poison known as “Philippine media”. Find a way to get them to shun it. However this is tricky because they are like addicts towards it and actively seek it out no matter where they are.

  5. Ricardo Diaz,

    You are absolutely right. The Philippine media does nothing but numb and corrupt the Failipino mind— make them starstruck and deluded with false information.


  6. Zaxx seems to have the best suggestion at the moment: we can all do with a reset, a reboot, and a retool of how we think, feel, and behave and how we affect each other and the nation as a whole.
    Singapore may be a bridge too far;
    how about Davao on New Year’s Eve?
    It seems to be a city that works, where the citizens look after each other’s common good in traffic and noise pollution, and which seems as close as we have to achieving what Singapore has had for the last 50 years.
    Change is within us to achieve, but it must start with a change in attitude.
    Bahala na just doesn’t cut the cheese any more.

  7. A) Education… Schools whose sole purpose is to ‘educate’… B) Qualified Teachers/Professors who inspire and whose focus is to prepare students for life and career… C) An Education Department led by career officials whose positions are guaranteed for ‘tenure’ and are dependent solely on ‘competence’… D) A civic-spirited Business Sector that is aware of the need and is prepared to open its purse to ensure a new crop of professionals… E) A more altruistic, uplifting and civic-minded media and entertainment industry… and..lastly, F) A President who acknowledges the inadequacy of the present ridiculous and pathetic educational system and who refrains from appointing his ‘flunkies’ to take charge of such an important component of civilized society.
    The foregoing ‘laundry list’ might best be complemented by the establishment of ‘Reading Centers’ in all Barangays for the benefit of adults who want to enrich and broaden their minds. These centers may be regarded as rudimentary libraries which at this point might be too much to ask for. As well, printers and publishers of text books, other school reference material and trade journals, might supply only that which passes through scrutiny of the ‘Education Department’.
    These suggestions will, of course, be laughed at; even as it is the most practicable and the least expensive way to uplift our masses.. and yes.. over a period of at least one generation. It is hoped, though, that it would, at least, reach some responsible and thoughtful soul in .government.
    If we think all these will be too costly, let’s look around now and see how costly ‘ignorance’ could really be.
    (I posted this last year. It just looked like a good fit here.)

  8. Vagoneto makes a lot of sense:education is our most important tool for preparing for a future that we can manage, otherwise our common ignorance will ensure us of a future which will leave us completely baffled, bamboozled and bastardized by its overwhelming hold on us, completely at its mercy yet somehow thinking we’re on top of it, and oblivious to its reality.

  9. To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

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