To be fair to the Philippine Opposition led by the Liberal Party (a.k.a. the Yellowtards), a strategic vision for the Philippines hinged on building infrastructure is counterintuitive to the average Filipino mind. This is because Filipinos do not have a strong historic tradition of building stuff.
Indeed, much of the really large historical civil works and infrastructure that existed in the Philippines before the United States granted it independence in 1946 was built by former colonial masters. Those picturesque churches, monuments and forts that serve as the primary stock of man-made tourist attractions in the islands were built by the Spaniards. Long-distance rail was by no means an indigenous Filipino initiative and many of the country’s ports infrastructure was built by Spanish and American colonial governments and private enterprise.
Before Spanish colonisation of the islands that were to be collectively known as “the Philippines”, there were no large-scale infrastructure works and no big architectural wonders beyond the flimsy huts indigenous Filipinos live in. There did not seem to be incentive to build anything that could even withstand the tropical storms and withering monsoon rains that visited the islands frequently perhaps because, unlike in habitats with harsher climates with harder seasonal changes, Filipinos could actually live exposed to the elements all year round. As such, if a hut is blown down by a typhoon, the day or two (or three) it would take to rebuild it would not be as life-threatening as, say, being without shelter over even just one cold winter night.
We can see this abject lack of an ethic of building large-scale capital-intensive systems and structures that deliver huge economies of scale in the more than half-century of consistent failure of Philippine society to keep its infrastrucure apace with its galloping population growth since gaining independence in 1946. Indeed, without European supervision, Filipinos, quite simply, are not up to the task of building infrastructure for themselves. Left to their devices, Filipinos will likely have been happy carrying buckets of water from a well everyday than building a system to pipe water to their homes. The same attitude can be observed in the way they regard their public transport systems, their manufacturing methods, and even their national politics.
Whether deliberate or not, the Yellowtards are exploiting Filipinos’ culturally-ingrained aversion to large-scale civil and systemic works to further a partisan agenda focused on seizing power through dishonest means. Their key argument against a long-overdue prioritisation of large-scale infrastructure development is lacing their rhetoric with fear-mongering around the “dangers” of spending too much on big-ticket items. And, of course, no Yellowtard political rhetoric is complete without the trademark liberal use of non-sequitur references to the “evil” Martial Law “Regime” of the late former President Ferdinand Marcos.
But the road to true national greatness is not necessarily paved with good or even “holy” intentions. National treasure Nick Joaquin himself in his seminal essay “A Heritage of Smallness” suggested that a “muderer mentality” is even needed to achieve that greatness.
Is not our timorous clinging to smallness the bondage we must break if we are ever to inherit the earth and be free, independent, progressive? The small must ever be prey to the big. Aldous Huxley said that some people are born victims, or “murderers.” He came to the Philippines and thought us the “least original” of people. Is there not a relation between his two terms? Originality requires daring: the daring to destroy the obsolete, to annihilate the petty. It’s cold comfort to think we haven’t developed that kind of “murderer mentality.”
Indeed, Philippine society has a lot of social baggage that needs to be crushed in order to progress. Many of these impoverished legacies need to be killed in order for the new structures, new attitudes, new social orders, and new approaches to thinking to be established. No great civilisation was built without rivers of blood flowing out of the piles of corpses of those who resisted conquest and the changes the victors implemented upon their newly-acquired subjects. Not even the Roman Catholic Church itself could absolve the “holiest” of its wars of that approach to implementing change at a large-enough scale as to make history. In order to build and build big, one must possess the stomach to destroy and destroy big.
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