Why Change from Within the System has Failed

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One of the retorts against us GRP bloggers is, “why don’t you run for office?” This is of course based on the assumption that you can only reform Philippine society through the government, and you have to be a part of the system to make it work. It has the sense of, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

That is why some “advocates” and “activists” cling to politicians such as contested vice president-elect Leni Robredo. She was shooed in after the mysterious death of her husband, Jesse Robredo. This was likely because the reputation of Liberal Party standard bearer, Mar Roxas, was deemed unsalvageable. Leni is marketed as the “angel” of the incoming administration. Supporters believe she has “natural” goodness, claiming it will keep her tainted from corruption. The same thing was claimed of the outgoing president and party-mate, Benigno S. C. Aquino III, during his 2010 campaign.

Perhaps the same can be said about Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Some have chosen to support him, despite his connection to Martial Law-era abuses, as he is perceived as the antithesis of the outgoing Aquino administration. So they believe supporting him is a solution. They also tend to focus more on his person and bloodline, rather than what he actually does.

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When “advocates” cling to politicians, they are acting like shills in a sense, whether they know it or not. Yes, indeed, I said it: they can do shilly stuff without knowing it. Because when all they do is focus on the person, like, “this candidate is always good,” “she knows what are needs are without us telling them,” “believe in this candidate, do not doubt them,” etc., they demonstrate the starstruck ignoramus dynamic that helps keep Philippine society as backward as it is now. That’s kind of shilly. And how they act, as well as the number of them doing it, help propagate this mentality. Of course, some do the clinging with the hope of getting their agendas enacted as policy, and hopefully, it will help makes changes in society. That hope could also be said of the approach of some to president-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

But back to my claim that it likely will not work. Why?

Benign0’s words capture it very well: You cannot solve a problem with the thinking that created it.

The “advocates” are actually practicing political patronage. The more they cling to politicians, the more they propagate the culture and system that pulls Philippine society down. They will be engrossed with lip service to certain politicians and with putting down people who bring up legitimate criticisms against them. It is our blind worship of and obedience to celebrities, and now politicians, that make us fail to address the flaws of our society. Worship does not just mean fawning over them emotionally. It also includes the feeling that these people will be solutions on their own. They hope that the officials the support will not be corrupt, or corrupt officials they support will just “change” and “become good.” Unfortunately, it will not work because that may not be the idea these politicians have. We should put our faith in ideas, not people.

Oh, and one other thing I’ve noticed about people who like to cling to government. It’s likely many are just in it for themselves and want to partake of the pork barrel. For example, I knew a certain swindling bum who was always saying that the best way to get “fast money” was to think up a project that a politician can fund. I doubt he was able to find such an opportunity, and I doubt even more that he really intended to deliver at all! But apparently, that’s what some “supporters” and “advocates” are. Others are starstruck ignoramuses, but these are opportunists.

And even if we run for office or take office, that doesn’t guarantee we can achieve success in our reforms. Some people under this past Aquino administration tried, and resigned. I have heard from someone who became a congressman, and he said it was not that easy at all to implement reforms. You get blocked by other people who see your reforms as opposing their plans. Sometimes, even without or with little opposition, you still need support from other congressmen to get things done. Here’s where Fallenangel’s observation, that the U.S. president is powerless without the agreement of U.S. Congress, applies.

So I may be told, if we can’t change the system from within, then we are doomed! No. I consider the above-mentioned premise wrong about changing society through government wrong. The problem is not in government. The problem is in Filipino society itself, in culture. The government merely follows the pattern of society. In ordinary life, people shoo in family into businesses or other organizations; so in politics, we have political dynasties. In ordinary life, people pilfer things from other people, sometimes grabbing office stuff as their own, with the excuse, “paminsan-minsan lang naman” (in rare moments anyway); in government, that paminsan-minsan leads to billions of pesos disappearing. In ordinary life, people jaywalk, ignore signs and treat rules as suggestions. Thus, politicians do the same, often failing to implement rules.

That’s where the change should be. In culture, society, and media. And from the outside, we as the constituents of our elected leaders must make demands from them. We must constantly and unceasingly communicate to them what policies we want to see enacted and what effects we want to see resulting from them. As Ilda said, we should stop treating politicians like celebrities, because they are our public servants; we are not their servants.

This Independence Day, we must relearn the value of true independence; that it requires us to stop mooching on our politicians (or them mooching on us!) and we must take responsibility for our own governance.

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About ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture are pulling them down. And I blog freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

16 Comments on “Why Change from Within the System has Failed”

  1. I believe Political Patronage is there, because the Philippine government positions are the one of the biggest employment sources; next to the OFW employment sources.

    It is a culture, that “asungots” or followers of politicians support them; because, once they win; politicians and their supporters win. The winning politician , get his position. The Politician’s followers get juicy government jobs.

    Once Aquino is out. Duterte’s followers will be in ! This has been in the past; it will be at the present; and it will be in the future ! It is part of the Filipino political culture. This is the reason , we have family political dynasties. Who put them there ? Their Rabid followers, who want something in return , for their loyalties…

  2. We are just reaping the fruits of extortion..political patronage feeds injustice and corruption and creates society of moochers, its like a virullent disease that can’t be stop until it is certain that you are dead.

  3. >> That’s where the change should be. In culture, society, and media.

    The question is, though, ChinoF, how do you do it? I was just watching a short video about an Indian village that literally went from rags to riches because they all co-operated on a new water-management scheme proposed by their equivalent of the Barangay captain. They were immensely proud of what they had achieved and how they had worked together to make it happen.

    Now, I know from experience what happens when you propose such a thing to a Filipino barangay captain: he’ll just shake his head and smile and say “you can’t change Filipinos”, which reminds me of Homer Simpson’s fatherly advice to Bart on how to avoid failure: “never try”.

    So: how do we get Filipinos to actually try? How do you get them to even imagine a better future? It seems most of them can’t be bothered to do even that.

    One of the

    1. Fair question, but I wonder if the answers you found in that video about the Indian village are similar to what I explained in the article. It would seem to me more like self-governance than political will. Perhaps someone else thought of the water management scheme to the village chief, and he simply agreed. I will try to watch that video to get more ideas. I’ll also wait for the continuation of what you were typing.

      I don’t why I’m reminded of this transparency effort in Masbate, told by Ben Kritz. It’s a demonstration that if people come together to demand something of their leaders, they can achieve it, some how.

      1. The video is here:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hmkgn0nBgk

        Filipinos could learn a lot from this sort of thing. I’m going to show it to a few people I know, without any comment from me, just to see what their reaction is.

        >> It’s a demonstration that if people come together to demand something of their leaders, they can achieve it, some how.

        I think the fly in the ointment there is that, if you even let the leaders know that you’re trying to do something good, you’ll be shut down, swamped with meaningless paperwork and license applications, or possibly even disposed of. It’s not enough to hold politicians to account, or even to start independent initiatives. Deciding not to be poor and downtrodden is a subversive (and dangerous) act in itself.

        Thus, any positive grassroots action would inevitably be accompanied by civil disobedience, because being not-poor is inherently disobedient. Paradoxically, Filipinos are as bad at disobedience as they are at following laws.

        There was no continuation – “One of the” was a dangling phrase from something I deleted 🙂

        1. Hey thanks, that was a good video to learn from. Looks like among the “early” efforts to harness rainfall to solve water shortages. I recall a recent share on Facebook that encouraged collecting rainfall from the house down spouts. It also showed that people in this grassroots action can work without government. I’ll predict though that one reaction you’ll get when you share this is, “this won’t work here without government approval.” Grassroots nga, hihingi pa ng tulong sa goberyno.

        2. >> I’ll predict though that one reaction you’ll get when you share this is, “this won’t work here without government approval.”

          Ha – that was my first thought too 🙂

          And the sad part? They’re probably right. There’s always some engineer, lawyer, chief-of-this-or-that, or low-level rubber-stamp wielder whose job it is to put a stop to development, in all its forms.

  4. Any change from a “corrupt” system will only yield a change tainted by corruption, which will never survive the test of time for validity and reliability, that can be confidently passed down from generations to generations.

  5. Thanks all for the comments. One thing I’ll add, based on Marius’ mention of the barangay, is that corruption exists even at the smallest levels of the community. Ben Kritz followed up the story on Masbate with this, and the conclusion that corruption isn’t top-to-down, but down-to-top. You can only change things when you dig deep into the smallest units of society – including the family.

    1. It is the entire Failippine culture that is fucked up. Our numerous tribal (provincial) traditions, practices, and dialects are not in sync with one another–causing more competition (chaos) instead of unity (harmony).

      We need to adopt a new language that everyone can speak and write; a religion (or non-religion) that everyone can acknowledge even if not practiced; and get rid of provinces, including their antiquated traditions and practices that distinguish us from each other.

      We do these things and we would have taken a major step towards progress.

  6. “When “advocates” cling to politicians, they are acting like shills in a sense, whether they know it or not. Yes, indeed, I said it: they can do shilly stuff without knowing it. Because when all they do is focus on the person, like, “this candidate is always good,” “she knows what are needs are without us telling them,” “believe in this candidate, do not doubt them,” etc., they demonstrate the starstruck ignoramus dynamic that helps keep Philippine society as backward as it is now. That’s kind of shilly. And how they act, as well as the number of them doing it, help propagate this mentality.” – And I just think to myself why are people so sucked up on getting themselves enslaved? That is why I can never answer anyone who asks me “Who do I support?” After all, I believe no matter who is in position, it won’t change a thing if you yourself don’t make any move…….

    “But back to my claim that it likely will not work. Why?
    Benign0’s words capture it very well: You cannot solve a problem with the thinking that created it.
    The “advocates” are actually practicing political patronage. The more they cling to politicians, the more they propagate the culture and system that pulls Philippine society down.” – And I feel like condemning people who tell me I have no right to complain if I didn’t vote. I say they are the ones who have no right to complain because all they are doing is propagating the same old method, expecting different results. In other words, this is just madness (or probably more than madness, or even insanity or stupidity)…….

    “And even if we run for office or take office, that doesn’t guarantee we can achieve success in our reforms. Some people under this past Aquino administration tried, and resigned. I have heard from someone who became a congressman, and he said it was not that easy at all to implement reforms. You get blocked by other people who see your reforms as opposing their plans. Sometimes, even without or with little opposition, you still need support from other congressmen to get things done.” – And I just tell people who tell me to run for office, “Will you vote for me then support me when I get elected? I doubt you will because you will just be starstruck by other politicians who are more well-known than me. And I would bet that you only supported me because you were just starstruck by me and did not run through my platforms. Plus, in case you won’t, then it will probably be either because a more-well known politician, whom you are obviously more starstruck with, vilified me; or you did not analyze my platforms very well and just brushed it off just because it sounded bad.”

    1. Makes you want to let out a big sigh, doesn’t it? Well, if the question is why people act like this, I find it easily explained when you think of them as wanting to mooch.

  7. There is almost no region in the Failippines where it is not essential to know to which clan, or which subgroup of which clan, the BS Aquino belongs. From this single piece of information you can trace the lines of patronage and allegiance that define the state.

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