The most sensible comment I’ve seen on what should be in a Trump presidency

“Liberals and conservatives are equally required for a healthy USA. I’m a Liberal, but I recognize that the bleeding heart can lead to unintended consequences. I also know that excessive Conservatism can lead to heartless treatment of the less fortunate and huge inequalities. When we work together and are not afraid of compromise and consensus, we get the truly wonderful country that has been a beacon to the rest of the world. I hope bipartisanship and cooperation guide us now.”

See the original post here

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Kanpai! Marcos has been buried in the LNMB!

The Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) made me think of the Japanese word Kanpai, for some reason. In fact, the very title of this article kind of seems like an anime title, don’t you think?

In the Japanese language, depending on the Kanji characters used, the word kanpai can mean two very different things.

The first set of characters, 乾杯, is the Kanpai that Filipinos are more familiar with. It is the toast done before drinking sessions start. It is like, “Cheers!”, in English. It is a pretty good guess that those who wanted Marcos buried in LNMB, and got their wish, were busy clinking glasses and celebrating afterwards.

The second set of characters, 完敗, means total loss, complete defeat. I’m pretty sure, though, that those who oppose the burial of Marcos will simply not find it in themselves to have this word in their vocabulary.

The question I’m more interested in, however, concerns the future: what is going to happen from here on?  Is this going to be the development that will get president Rodrigo Duterte ousted? Or is it simply yet another move in his seemingly grand game of Go?

If you think about it, the opposition is being forced to play its cards pretty early.

Why being exceptional is a bane in the Philippines

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Photo credit: michaelhyatt.com

Being exceptional in the Philippines is not only not rewarded, it is also punished. Often severely.

Being exceptional, in the eyes of Filipinos, means that you are something the rest of them aren’t. You aren’t in solidarity with the rest of them, especially if they’re mediocre. Naging iba ka sa kanila. Di ka nakisama.

Leadership is often associated with exceptional aptitude and excellence, and I think rightly so. Only the best should actually be leading their respective groups.

Filipinos have a distorted view of leadership; they do not see leaders as entities who are merely one part of a mutually beneficial, cooperative relationship, and will guide them towards meeting an objective or goal. Rather, they see leaders as people who will do all the work for them, and who are expected to tell them what to do.

You can often hear this phrase when it comes to leadership in the Philippines: “O, bahala ka na diyan, ha!” (Hey, from here on it’s your show!)

On one hand, Filipino “leaders” will be exempt from criticism because the followers don’t want to be seen as ungrateful. Because these followers wish to take little to no part in meeting the goal, their participation and scrutiny of their leaders are often misinformed or uneducated.

On the other hand, Filipino “leaders” will be blamed for everything simply because, in the eyes of the Filipino follower, they chose to take the responsibility upon themselves. Never mind if they themselves designated a particular person to be their “leader”. Never mind if responsibilities were actually thrust upon the “leaders” because everyone else avoided them.

Therefore, expect the same attitudes that Filipinos take towards “leaders” to be the same attitudes they take towards exceptional people. It is encompassed in the commonly heard line, “kung ang galing galing mo, bakit di ka tumakbo sa gobyerno?!” (If you’re so great, why don’t you run for government office?!)

Exceptional aptitude, excellence, and leadership are simply too hard for Filipinos to grasp, much less work towards.

From Get Real Philippines: 3 things holding the Philippines back from becoming another Singapore

As Singapore celebrated its 50th year of independence, one cannot help but reflect on what could have been for our own country, the Philippines. After all, Singapore and the Philippines started as equals back in the 1960s. Records even suggests that the Philippines was the most developed country in the region during that time due to America’s assistance in recovery after the second world war. But alas, the Philippines has been left in the dust by the rest of its neighbors as each country learned to evolve through the times.

Intelligent and efficient Singapore: The country the Philippines could have been.

Similar to a marathon runner ahead in the race but who stumbled and suffered a spectacular fall, it has been hard for the Philippines to pick herself up. It’s become even more difficult after the country fell in the hands of the oligarchs who replaced former President Ferdinand Marcos after his ouster in 1986. Meanwhile, from what was described as a formerly sleepy port, Singapore had grown to become a global finance and trade hub. The legacy of Singapore’s founder former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew continues to guide the country’s multicultural society even after his death.

Some say it is not fair to compare Singapore to the Philippines because Singapore is smaller. The country is just 716 square kilometers, just a little bigger than Metro Manila. But like with most things, it’s not the size of something that matters but what you do with it that counts. Singaporeans obviously did a lot with their space in spite of the scarce resources within it. Just to give you an idea of what they had to deal with, the country had been relying on imported water from Malaysia for most of its water needs. In recent years, “the city-state has made its gutters, drains and rivulets a vast basin to catch rainfall” in addition to increasing the size of its water catchment areas just to ease their dependence on Malaysia. It is evident that instead of holding them back, lack of resources has certainly made Singaporeans become more resourceful.

Accommodating Singapore’s booming population seems like a welcome challenge for them as well. To manage the country’s growth, which is projected to reach six million people in the next two decades, the Singapore government has teamed up with experts from the “Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to devise ways to manage its expansion — knowledge it plans to export to other cities.” The whole point is “to study how cities work and how they can work better.” Those who have been to Singapore will know how efficient things are run in the country.

If only the Philippines can learn from Singapore and apply these to the task of managing its people and resources, the country can also join the rest of its neighbors at the finish line. Despite the Philippines’ vast resources and abundant talent pool, the country cannot seem to get its act together. Let us look at the reasons why:

1. Weak law enforcement leads to lack of discipline.

Lee Kuan Yew’s advice was: Filipinos needs to develop discipline more than democracy. He was right. Democracy only works when the majority are informed and educated. That’s not the case in the Philippines. It seems there is this misguided notion among Filipinos that democracy means freedom to do whatever they want including breaking the law.

The reason why Filipinos lack discipline is because law enforcement agencies including the police and justice department do not or cannot do their jobs properly. To help them with their jobs, they have to realize that they are dealing with mostly ignorant and arrogant people so they need to apply zero tolerance and effect strict enforcement of the law. Otherwise, the people will not learn to obey the rules. Perhaps it would be best if members of the Philippine law enforcement agencies treat the populace like children who need guidance. That’s how it’s done in Singapore until now anyway. No chewing gum, anyone?

Everyday there is chaos on major roads in the Philippines due to lack of discipline. One wonders what the traffic enforcers are doing to fix the problem. Nothing, it seems. Every day there is someone throwing garbage in the river and someone building a new shack illegally on private and public lands. One wonders what the police and local government agencies are doing to nip the problem in the bud. These are just some of the violations that are tolerated in the country. Some say this is so because politicians patronize the masses to get their votes. Which brings us to the next item.

2. Patronage politics has perverted democracy.

It’s also called padrino system. This is the reason why law enforcement is weak in the Philippines. The law is not applied equally to everyone. This is evident in the way incumbent public servants use selective justice in prosecuting criminals. This is why a lot of people think it’s okay to do the crime. If you need further convincing, just look at how President BS Aquino treats his allies. When people see others get away with violating the law just by being friends with those in power or by bribing those in power, their natural tendency is to emulate or copy what they see. A lot of the elite members of Philippine society do this to get away with violating the law. Those from the lower class just copy the behavior of those from the upper class.

Mismanagement and mediocrity ruined the Philippines.

This is precisely the reason why it is best to first ask the elite members of Philippine society to change instead of asking or expecting the masses to change.

As long as patronage politics is strong in the Philippines, the country will not progress. You can even see patronage politics on the road. The buses that block the road on EDSA and cause major traffic jams are operated by the elites and, unfortunately, these bus operators are not doing anything to discipline their drivers and neither are the traffic enforcers doing anything drastic since they more than likely get a cut from the bus operators.

3. Anti-intellectual attitudes discourage critical debate.

An anti-intellectual attitude in the Philippines is a problem that has plagued the country since the mid 1980s. The problem started when Filipinos allowed a “reluctant” housewife with no expertise in running a government to become the President of the Republic. Instead of promoting excellence, former President Cory Aquino promoted mediocrity. The society also became increasingly emotional and vindictive.

One just needs to look at the current crop of public servants today and one will realize why the country is run like hell. Instead of voting for experts and professionals or at least someone with more experience and vision, Filipinos love putting a lot of celebrities and popular personalities and their relatives in powerful positions in government.

It seems as though Filipinos are allergic to people who have knowledge and expertise in solving the country’s problems so they would rather go for someone who they can relate with even when nothing is being done to solve the country’s woes. No wonder the country’s public transport system is almost in ruin.

It’s only in the Philippines where intellectuals are ostracised. When you explain something that is deemed too complicated for the average person, they will simply dismiss you with “eh di wow!” or similar exasperated expressions in a condescending manner. It is the reason why some intellectuals would rather go with the flow than risk being shamed for using their heads.

As long as intellectuals and experts are not in charge of the Philippines, the country will not reach the same status as Singapore.

The above reasons are what is holding the Philippines back from reaching First World status. They all pertain to Filipino cultural traits. There are some who would say that the country’s flawed system is what’s holding the country back and suggest that perhaps a parliamentary form of government will help foster intellectual discourse. However, the system is only as good as the people. There is very little chance a good system will be designed by a society that is lacking in discipline, is anti-intellectual, and is imprisoned by patronage politics. Sadly, such a society is guaranteed to either remain stagnant or become worse in the decades to come.

Reposted with permission from the original author.

Why elections in the Philippines will perpetually be about the ‘lesser evil’

The Japanese have a saying, the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. This is also not just applicable, but evident in our own setting as well.

It has long been asked, “Is there no presidential candidate that can represent the best of them rather than the least bad?”, but if we look at it from another angle, and one will find himself/herself asking, “Do the Filipinos want to be represented by the best of their own, rather than the least bad?”

The answer is, no, they don’t.

Filipinos don’t respond to competence because it is a perceived threat. Yet it is ironic that they put a lot of weight on credentials, yet fail to consider them when they count. Instead, they would look for things to feel threatened about like, “mayabang”, or “marunong mandaya”, or what have you.

They would rather go with someone who is either someone like them, or “non-threatening”, yet mediocre. One only has to look at Noynoy Aquino’s ascension to the Presidency to validate that.