There are things worse than being under the sort of Martial Law former President Ferdinand Marcos oversaw in the 1970s — like being invaded by a foreign army, being struck by a killer earthquake or cyclone, being genetically mutated by years of exposure to diesel fumes, being stabbed to death by a drug-crazed loser, or being chronically stuck in traffic with chronically slow, expensive Internet.
For Filipinos, however, being under Martial Law is the be-all-end-all most important national risk to be acutely vigilant about. Small surprise then that Filipinos find themselves today with an insanely paralysing national phobia for Martial Law that has resulted in (1) the implementation of a paranoid Constitution in 1987, (2) the rise to power of a vindictive oligarchy, (3) the propagation of a perversely-liberal limpdicked national ideology now known as Yellowtardism, and (4) a deeply-ingrained hatred for the police and military. In short, Filipinos have an entire governance framework and an entire political mindset motivated by fear of the past. This is why the discourse today remains fixated on the past and its bogeymen. What of the future? Nah, that requires too much thinking and courage. The past is the Filipino’s comfort zone.
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Thus, whilst Filipinos have become good at being known for their “freedom loving” blabber and their paranoia over anything that they perceive to be a threat to that “freedom”, they are not good at mitigating, preventing, or defending themselves against real threats to their national wellbeing — like, as pointed out earlier, foreign invasion, crime and terrorism, environmental and quality-of-life degradation, and declining productivity. Whilst Filipinos can be pompously proud for being the “People Power” people of the world, they all but choke on any effort to be proud of important stuff; like military prowess, standard of living, emergency response, technological and industrial infrastructure. You know, stuff that make up the real foundation of real national pride.
In hindsight, it is now easy to see the folly in having national pride built upon “freedom”. Over the time Filipinos huffed and puffed over being the “only real democracy” in southeast Asia, relatively authoritarian societies like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Korea surged ahead and left them in the dust. More importantly being proud of being “free” is an oxymoron. If merely being “free” were truly a singular achievement to be proud of, then any spoilt brat should be regarded as an accomplished adult and every trantrum she throws evidence of that adulthood. The Philippines, it seems, is a country measured by that oxymoronic standard. Its “thought leaders” gloss over the fact that it fails on every measure of adulthood: discipline, independence, reliability, and productivity yet they throw fiestas to commemorate their nation’s infantile behaviours: its “free” no-substance press, its extrajudicial changes in leadership, its chaotic no-rules no-accountability business practices, and its “cute” belief in superstition and mythology.
What we see here is colossal lack of perspective on a national scale brought about by a “national trauma” (the “Martial Law Years”) that is no more than a figment of an entire people’s paranoid collective imagination. This is a country so afraid of its own shadow that it has failed to build capability and has, instead, chosen to hide from confronting truths about the collective character of its people and the solid evidence of this that history has to offer — if, of course, this history is analysed using sound thinking.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.