The Rediscovery and Re-enchantment of Our Humanity: in Honor of the May Day and In Defense of the Global Occupy Movement

The present times are complicatedly so fast and furious. So fast the pacing that we forget to stop and pause to enjoy the quality time with our family and savor the moment with our friends! We are so concern with so many pressing issues and material needs that we forgot the importance of silence, of meditation and reflections with are necessary in having conversation with our inner selves. Sadly, we instead push and push and in doing so, we fail to cherish life’s true joys and simple pleasures.

Modern technology has truly revolutionized human life. It has indeed made living hassle-free, easy, and above all, comfortable. However, I am wondering whether the price that we have to pay for this kind of fast-paced life is worth it? Technology made it possible for us to hook up with anyone that we wish to talk to, yet ironically we spend more time ‘talking’ to our computers rather than our family. The internet has turned the young today as addict, worst than the television. Rather than engaged in actual interaction, our kids today are more interested in an on-line, virtual ‘relationship’.

Everybody seems to be so busy with their respective business and duties that we miserably forget the necessary things from the mere pleasurable and fleeting cravings. We have no time to ourselves and so as to our love-ones. We are so preoccupied with the ways of the modern world that it blinded us from the true, the good, the lasting and the beautiful! Truth hurts! Reality bites!

labor_day

Sad but true! What went wrong? It was widely reported that when the Dalai Lama was asked, what surprised him most about humanity, he answered thus as:

Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

We betrayed our humanism for materialism. The modern way has programmed us for quick results and immediate outcome; yet we completely forgotten that life as a whole does not operate that way, that we cannot forced certain things because they in itself are dependent in time and circumstances.

We failed to realize that the most important things in life are those beautiful things, momentous events and vivid experiences that come naturally at their own time. Perfect examples of this would be the fulfillment of a dream, the realization of an objective and moment of critical decision. These acts cannot be made in haste nether can they be force by an instant desire.

The book of Ecclesiastes has taught us that there is always a perfect time for everything:

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

We all want to help one another and share each other’s happiness; human beings are like that; yet as economic progression has further developed and as we maximized to the maximum all the resources of mother earth; it seems to me that we have lost our way.

Greed has invariably poisoned men’s minds and corrupted their souls. The present global financial system has barricaded the world with individualism, hate, racism, nihilism, selfishness and false consciousness. The prevailing system has reduced man into a machine that is a mere appendage to the whole economic operational chains. This presently ‘developed’ world has led and goosed us to misery, degradation and widespread bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we deny the very existence of our fellows; and shut ourselves inside our very selves.

Machinery that gives unimaginable abundance and immeasurable wealth has left has in want, hunger and deprivation! Our knowledge has made us cynical and apathetic; our cleverness turns us into hard and unkind beings! We lost track of what is important in life, such as family, friendship and human solidarity. Instead we replaced them by money, competition and technology. We think too much, yet we feel so little! It seems that we have already erased from our memory what Ludwid van Bethoven had taught us: Recommend to your children virtue; that alone can make them happy, not gold.

We are not aware, but the system has transformed us into a machine. The system has assumed an invincible power over our own selves, clouded our better judgment and has shattered our independence. We are all victims of this system that tell us what to think, what to feel, what to do, what to prioritize and what to value. Man is forgetting that he is not a machine or an object nor a commodity. He is man, natural, living, independent and free, a social being by nature!

As the great German philosopher Karl Marx said: Humans are urged to live to work, not to work to live!  However, all is not lost! There is always hope and regeneration!

As Charlie Chaplin lucidly expressed in a speech in one of his classical movies:

More the machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without this qualities; life would be violent and all would be lost.

Knowledge without morality is dead; wisdom without a firm ethical basis is unthinkable and material prosperity is empty if the soul is in shambles and incomplete!

To be a complete man, what we need is not only the dryness of the mind, but also the warmness of the heart and the goodness of the soul! We can only realize all of this, if we would return to our humanity and share it to our families, friends and the rest of society. No man is an island.

To paraphrase the Greek philosopher Aristotle: Man by nature is a socio-political animal. We will never ever complete our social beings without immersing and bonding with our fellowmen.

Hence, we must not only return to ourselves, but also it would certainly do humanity as a whole a lot of good if we will return to ancient teachings which are based on wisdom, compassion and courage to re-adjust, re-look, re-learn and reform ourselves in all aspects our lives to restore the values, virtues and position of human beings in the world!

It is on this great sense that I firmly believe in the power of the international working classes to transform the rest of humanity from barbarity back to humanity and one of those great popular socio-political vehicle for them to realize that objective is by forging solidarity to the Occupy Global Movement.

As Professor Noam Chomsky said during his talk at the Occupy Boston encampment on Dewey Square on October 22, 2011:

“You can’t achieve significant initiative without a large, active, popular base. Its necessary to get out into the country and help people understand what the Occupy movement is about — what they themselves can do, and what the consequences are not doing anything.

“Organizing such a base involves education and activism. Education doesn’t mean telling people what to believe — it also means learning from them and with them.

“Karl Marx famously said that the task is not just to understand the world but to change it. A variant to keep in mind is that if you want to change the world you’d better try to understand it. That doesn’t mean just listening to a talk or reading a book, though that’s helpful sometimes.

“You learn from participating. You learn from others. You learn from the people you’re trying to organize. We all have to gain the understanding and the experience to formulate and implement ideas as to how to move forward.

“The most exciting aspect of the Occupy movement is the construction of the linkages that are taking place all over. If they can be sustained and expanded, Occupy can lead to dedicated efforts to set society on a more humane course.”

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL LABOR DAY! LONG LIVE THE GLOBAL OCCUPY MOVEMENT!!!

[Photo courtesy Demotix.com.]
 

Advertisements
Posted in Civics, Economy, Lifestyle, Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A reminder to Filipinos – the cardinal rules of the House of Aquino

Is it just me, or a growing number of Filipino citizens are becoming more dissatisfied with president Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s (BS Aquino) performance as time passes by? Those who are dissatisfied claim that nothing much has changed. BS Aquino apparently still hasn’t managed to reduce poverty despite his “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” guiding principle. He’s supposedly jailed the one he thinks is the “biggest fish” among those he deems as corrupt, but corruption remains the same. BS Aquino supposedly favors his KKK’s and relentlessly persecutes his enemies without giving them due process. BS Aquino’s alleged ultimate goal is to secure Hacienda Luisnoynoy_coronaita before 2014 when it is subject to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Unfortunately, for the dissatisfied, BS Aquino is the man until he steps down in 2016. While he’s up there, the House of Aquino is the ruling dynasty. Their house, their rules.

Speaking of rules, though Filipinos are wont to disobey them anyway, the House of Aquino has a list of unwritten cardinal rules that every Filipino must obey without question. Filipinos would do best to know these rules by heart (isapuso) and live out these rules (isabuhay) so that they can find their way on the straight path (daang matuwid).

Thou shall not give bad news about Noynoy’s government.

If you’re a Filipino living with or working for BS Aquino’s government, you can forget all other laws and rules, but not this one.

Apparently, someone forget to remind the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB) of this when they released their report last week, which indicated that the percentage of Filipinos living below the poverty line remained practically the same between 2006 and 2012.

We can only imagine that BS Aquino was none too pleased with the report. In fact, he even went as far as to question the data used. “Are you comparing apples to apples?”, he said in referring to what was a seeming discrepancy in the data used for a particular region, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)..

Every time BS Aquino is displeased with something, someone is usually on the other end receiving the brunt of it. This time, it happened to be none other than National Economic Development Authority head and Economic Planning secretary Arsenio Balisacan. Rumors went around that due to this displeasure, he was not included in BS Aquino’s recent Brunei trip. Poor guy; but hope is not lost for him. There is no announcement yet that Balisacan will be sacked – for now.

Thou shall not find fault with Noynoy in any way, shape or form.

Never blame BS Aquino for anything that goes wrong. That is a no-no. There’s plenty of blame to go around for Gloria Arroyo (GMA), or to the people themselves. The worsening Mindanao power situation is GMA’s fault. The people who were affected by typhoons Pablo and Sendong in the south only have themselves to blame for not listening to BS Aquino’s government.

Remember, BS Aquino has only had three (3) years as president. It is a difficult job that nobody in his/her right mind can say that they will be 100% prepared for. On-the-job learning is inevitable; the presidency gets unique situations thrown at it everyday. Also remember, that being a president, owing to its uniqueness, is like starting with a blank slate; I guess in that regard, BS Aquino was the one most qualified for the job among the candidates last 2010. He has had a blank slate ever since.

Well, if you think about it, it’s really hard to find fault with Noynoy because he hasn’t really accomplished much in his life anyway.

Thou shall not stop Noynoy from opening his mouth.

It’s how he does his best thinking. Whether it’s through campaigning, allegedly ‘negative’ for the Liberal Party (LP) instead of working, or when he’s talking about his many kabuwisitans that he says keeps him from doing his job, BS Aquino has to keep his mouth open. Even when he backtracks on his statements, like he did with the NSCB poverty report, where he had concerns more with the timing than the data, just let him be. Noynoy is just being himself; he is not afraid to express how he feels about things which displease him. And because his facial expressions are limited anyway.

BS Aquino with the open mouth, apparently, is the look that suits him best. Just ask the Philippine Daily Inquirer; they thought so too when they published what they thought was a Time magazine cover of BS Aquino.

So how hard is it to obey these cardinal rules for Filipinos? Not very. BS Aquino not only represents Filipinos, he is the quintessential Filipino. Actually, these cardinal rules not only apply to the House of Aquino, but to Filipinos in general too.

Remember these rules well, if you want to survive in Filipino society.

Posted in Civics, Government, Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Risa Hontiveros: How can one be a communist and a Catholic at the same time?

risa_hontiverosReading John Nery gush like a starstruck teenager about senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros (Akbayan and the Liberal Party) in his recent Inquirer.net piece “A Catholic vote for Risa”, you could be forgiven for thinking Hontiveros is some sort of Filipino Mother Theresa. To Nery, Hontiveros is a “true child of Vatican II” and “most embodies Catholic social teaching”. Nery also cites how “A group that calls itself Catholics for Risa Hontiveros has circulated a statement online endorsing her as a Catholic candidate” noting that “[a] few of the signatories are his friends, some [he] know[s] only by reputation.” Of course, no endorsement of a candidate would be complete without a bit of pandering to certain politically-charged advocacies…

She was, of course, and controversially, among those who led the fight for the Reproductive Health Law; what many of her Catholic critics fail to see is that it was precisely her Catholic conscience, schooled in the gritty reality of Philippine society, that moved her to join the fight.

So let me ask Mr Nery and Risa’s prayerful followers this:

How does one go from being a communist (the true adherents of which are avowed atheists) to suddenly becoming a celebrated Catholic pinup?

The multiple layers of confounding inconsistencies surrounding the philosophical and ideological underpinnings of the candidacy of Risa Hontiveros are too hard to ignore.

Lest we forget Risa Hontiveros is chairperson of militant Leftist group Akbayan. There is scant literature on the hisotry of the Akbayan partylist, but a GMA Network report categorically states that the roots of Akbayan along with its bitter (albeit similarly Left-leaning) rival Bayan Muna “can be traced to the division of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its allies in the 1990s. Akbayan was formed by those who refused to be associated with both factions.”

But did Akbayan renounce its communist roots? According to a report published on the World Socialist Web Site, no.

Akbayan was formed in the wake of the break-up of the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in the early 1990s. Every decision made by Akbayan over the past two decades has born the stamp of its origin. The nationalist, opportunist and class collaborationist politics of Akbayan are the continuation of the Stalinist politics of the CPP. What differences now exist between Akbayan and its Maoist rivals are born out of the contingencies of alliances formed with different sections of the bourgeoisie.

Interestingly, the “official” history of Akbayan as laid out in their “official” website Akbayan.org is mute on the topic of its commie roots…

After twenty years of dictatorship under the Marcos regime, formal democracy in the Philippines was restored in 1986 through a broad “people power” movement. This democracy, however, proved to favor only the political and economic elite of the country. The moving force behind the anti-dictatorship struggle–concerned citizens and progressive groups–has been relegated to the periphery of decision-making and policy implementation. In response, social movements, trade union groups, and political organizations have emerged to challenge state policies through lobbying and pressure politics.

Despite the dynamism of Philippine movements, formal institutions of democracy remained in the hands of the few and the wealthy. It was within this context that the idea of building an alternative, a citizens’ political party, first emerged. Social movement groups wanted to be part of the formal processes of government. Akbayan was thus conceived as an effort to institutionalize people power and thereby deepen Philippine democracy.

Consultations on the party-building project began in 1994. Throughout the country, pro-democracy groups were enjoined to help shape the party concept and strategy. Aspirations of various sectors–labor, peasants, youth, women, gay and lesbians, professionals, overseas Filipino workers, urban poor–were discussed and consolidated into a program of governance, while ad hoc structures were formed in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Four years later, in January 1998, Akbayan was formally established through its Founding National Congress. In May of the same year, the new party tested its strength by participating in the local and party-list elections and won seats in the House of Representatives, and several local government units.

Hmmmm… “conceived as an effort to institutionalize people power and thereby deepen Philippine democracy.” That, together with the euphemism that these “social movement groups” of which the founding members of what was to become AKbayan were presumably part of “wanted to be part of the formal processes of government” sounds consistent with a Third Party perspective provided by GlobalSecurity.org on what the agenda of commie movements suddenly made irrelevant by 1986 “people power” politics…

As a result of the world-wide known “People Power” revolution in the Philippines, the National Democratic Front (NDF) made a comprehensive analysis on the new situation in the Philippines. The new government was viewed as a fragile coalition of the right and bourgeoise liberals. However, the Aquino government has a broader power base than the Marcos regime. As such, it adopted a critical collaboration stance with the present government fielding some of its members to fill some some post in government. With this style they could penetrate the bureaucracy while waiting for the Aquino government to weaken so the NDF goal can be fulfilled.

In summary, senatorial candidates who trace their political roots to communism seem to have a talent for metamorphosis to suit the most current political landscape. Some remain true to these roots and present themselves for who they really are in their campaigns. Others simply sell out to the Establishment and jump into bed with the mainstream hands outstretched ready to embrace whatever sort of label and branding it will take to win. To be fair, with the enormous sums of money involved in political campaign, it will really be always all about winnability — even for ex-commies.

[Photoc coutesy Yahoo! OMG!.]

Posted in Politics, Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 59 Comments

The State of Education Today: A Discourse on the Destruction of Creativity

We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and “success”, defined monetarily rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death. — Chris Hedges

learningThis brief paper is with regard to the sorry plight of our teachers and the general state of our educational system!

One of the primary issues that I wish to raise was on the question of “performance” in conjunction to “rewards”.

Undeniably, it is beyond contestation that “it is a common knowledge that the core business for most schools today is to make students score and pass examinations”.

The “emphasis in on drilling and more drilling, coaching and more coaching, and even cajoling students to do “well” in examinations.” I heavily doubted if anyone would dispute the said brutal prevailing reality.

It is on this great sense that I concur with the observation of Robert Kiyosaki when he said categorically that:

It seems to me that school system cannot admit they are not preparing children for real world. That would be admitting to failure- and we all know what failure means in the school system. It means the school thinks your child is not smart – but it really only means that your child isn’t doing what the school tells them to do.

What a shame!

Though, this is now the current trend; let me highlight the dangerous tendency of these misplaced procedure of the school owners’ attitude which is: Never mind, if the students truly learned anything at all, so long as they complied with all the process and satisfy all the requirements, that’s it!

It is my firm view and so holds that the said vulgar mindset and the indifferent attitude of the capitalist owners of the schools is the ultimate betrayal of the true aim of education.

As one brilliant student before the start of the examination asked in a mocking question to the ‘teacher’:

“Should we put down what we think is right, or what we think you think is right?”

It is the vehement and passionate contention of this writer that that is not the true aim of a true, libertarian and enlightened education.

Further, it is incontestable that the process many school administrators now implement is not education at all neither does it cultivate the minds of our lads.

Sadly, the procedure now being subscribes to by the modern educational system is spoon-feeding; which is the worst type of brain-washing that would give rise to intellectual retardation and academic regression.

Such process of relying solely to the perfection of the examination will undeniably would kill all forms of creativity, dynamism, distinctiveness and intellectual/mental diversity.

This led Doris Lessing to state mockingly and sarcastically that:

Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: ‘You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgments. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being molded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.

The product of this puerile system would be grim and ugly!

Why?

Instead of molding independent thinkers and passionate scholars; true and faithful to their craft; we on the other hand are producing “robots”, bonsais”, and rare species of birds who cannot use their wings and afraid to fly, because we have destroyed, shattered and broken institutionally their wings!

The primordial duty of the teacher is not merely to teach their students to pass the examination with flying colors, but more importantly to inculcate the virtue of good moral character, perseverance, ethical leadership and intellectual values; which are utterly necessary for the further development of their personality and soul.

As Socrates himself selflessly taught, our duty and obligation as teachers and educators is not to teach our lads what to think, but how to think and to think independently beyond our teaching! They must transcend the borders of their minds, create their own queries and have the courage and audacity to answer their own questions!

Yet, sad but true, that is not it seems to be the way of teaching in today’s world.

More and more, education is becoming a commodity, a thing that is for sale in the market. From an inherent right of every human being, it is now becoming a mere privilege!

As the joke goes: No money, no honey! No tuition fee, no entry, no permit, no examination, no ID, no entry!  Sad but true!

It is a heart-wrenching global phenomenon that “teaching” today emphasizes more on getting the “necessary” degrees and high paying jobs at the expense of true scholarship and moral well-being.   Again to quote Chris Hedges (“Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System”, April 11, 2011) wrote forcefully:

Passing bubble tests celebrates and rewards a peculiar form of analytical intelligence. This kind of intelligence is prized by money managers and corporations. They don’t want employees to ask uncomfortable questions or examine existing structures and assumptions. They want them to serve the system. These tests produce men and women who are just literate and numerate enough to perform basic functions and service jobs. The tests elevate those with the financial means to prepare for them. They reward those who obey the rules, memorize the formulas and pay deference to authority. Rebels, artists, independent thinkers, eccentrics and iconoclasts — those who march to the beat of their drum — are weeded out.

It is my humble belief and so holds that the pure aim of education is primarily to seek the goodness of man’s soul and not simply to develop his financial capability.

As one great philosopher have said: “Seek first the Kingdom of the Soul and all the treasures of the world will be added unto you”!

Hence, I will passionately argue that ultimate objective of the educational institution whether they are public or private is to hammer our lads to be the best that they can be by developing their character through critical thinking, harnessing their soft skills and cultivating their inner moral worth.

We must teach them to think logically, exhort them to always do the right thing and at all times, admonish them to act with justice and conduct themselves in a humanitarian manner, because in the final analysis: the ultimate aim of a true, dynamic and libertarian education is not simply to teach our lads how to make a living but to live a beautiful, virtuous and happy Life…

 

Posted in Education | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Why you should be worried about 2015

front20130430Already wrestling with the public relations fallout of the latest poverty statistics, the Aquino administration apparently was too busy last week to notice the press release from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies

(PIDS) announcing the results of a study that raises serious concerns about the preparedness of the Philippines’ small- and medium-enterprise (SME) sector for regional economic integration in 2015.

The study, authored by PIDS Vice President Rafaelita Aldaba, specifically evaluated the outcomes of the Philippines’ implementation of the Asean Strategic Action Plan for SME Development 2010 to 2015 (ASAPSD) and the Asean Policy Blueprint for SME Development 2004 to 2009 (APBSD), two frameworks that were intended to prepare SME’s across the entire region for the final implementation of the Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA) agreement in 2015. The AFTA agreement, which has been developing in a step-by-step fashion for the past 20 years, will in 2015 remove virtually all tariff barriers to inter-Asean trade, as well as harmonizing some regulations to remove other non-tariff barriers. The PIDS study concluded that the ASAPSD “has been perceived to have little concrete impacts in terms of enhancing competitiveness and flexibility of SMEs in moving toward a single market and production base” and that the APBSD has had “limited impact on facilitating SMEs access to information, market, human resource development and skills, finance and technology.”

The bottom line: The Philippines’ micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) sector is not ready to face the competitive pressure of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations free market, and that means the Philippine economy in general is not ready for it, because MSMEs account for well over 90 percent of the country’s business establishments.

Read the rest of the article here.

Posted in Economy, Money Talks | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Lack of thinking and arrogant attitudes are the Philippines’ undoing

In the Philippines, there are many people who claim to have a monopoly on great ideas. They claim to know what is good for you and everyone else. Some of them get very impatient about bringing their ideas into “action”. These people also think that their ideas are superior to other people’s ideas. They quickly dismiss as mere nuisances those who choose to examine things through careful scrutiny of the detail. These people — those who think they are “brilliant” — insist that the time for talking or discussing things is OVER and it is time to bring their ideas to the next level, which presumably is actual “execution”.

His arrogance will be his undoing.

HIs arrogance will be his undoing.

Indeed, in an impoverished country like the Philippines, there is no shortage of supposedly brilliant thinkers whose ideas fail the country simply because they did not want their ideas to be put under the microscope or to be subject to further critical evaluation prior to implementation. In other words, a lot of things in the Philippines — like badly-written legislation — fail because they were not examined well enough to see if they could pass the “So what?” test beforehand.

Don’t get me wrong – it is great to see that there are people who are passionate enough to do something to bring their causes and advocacies to fruition. I think it shows that there are people who have genuine concern for the country and are too eager to get things done. However, there is a danger that they could fall into the trap of wallowing too much in their own pile of crap. This usually happens the minute they stop entertaining new ideas and dissenting views. As they say, arrogance diminishes wisdom. When this happens, the advocacy becomes more about their ego and not about the idea.

To be sure, when you start thinking that your ideas are always better than others, then that’s when you stop learning. How many times have we seen people proven wrong years or decades later after they arrogantly insisted they were right? The answer: countless times over the history of mankind. We see it happening right before our eyes. A lot of Aquino supporters are notorious for dismissing any suggestions that President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino is incompetent and vindictive. They are averse to criticism and other ideas. This will eventually be their undoing.

We must have room for improvement and compromise. We can’t always be right 100 percent of the time. We might see something work in other countries but just because it does doesn’t mean it will work in our own country. Analyzing what works in other places should only serve to give us an idea of what we can do but we might have to alter a few bits and pieces to suit before we can apply it to our local situation. Cultural differences can hamper the implementation of a perfectly-articulated idea that was successfully implemented elsewhere.

To cite an example, there are countries like United Kingdom of Great Britain that don’t even have written constitutions, but their society still functions to optimal levels. Meanwhile, there are countries like our own with voluminous bodies of laws but whose society still fails to function to an acceptable international standard. It could be because majority of Filipinos refuse to follow even simple guidelines, what more a big set of laws?

Opening up the economy to foreign investors to help solve the country’s unemployment is an idea that sounds rational to some but would seem unpatriotic to others. It’s actually funny how some of those who say that a parliamentary system would fit the Philippines cannot even handle a simple online discussion without resorting to name-calling and psychopathic behavior when their views are challenged. Not that I am against a parliamentary system of government for the Philippines, but it’s just plain obvious that Filipinos in general aren’t mature enough to handle opposing views, which is something one should expect in such a system where reality checks on one’s ideas are par for the course. Or take the debate around reproductive health. Giving away free contraceptive pills and making sex education readily-available could be another bright idea to curb high population growth, but these ideas may be absolutely unacceptable to a lot of people due to what they claim is its moral and financial implications.

These are just some of the issues that cannot be rushed by saying that the time for discussion is OVER. All parties need to be satisfied using mature and intelligent discussions prior to arriving at a conclusion as opposed to one party using bullying tactics just to get their way.

Once a bad idea has been implemented, many lives and billions in funds could be lost before its instigators could realize it. It can cause billions more to reverse the damage. Sometimes the damage is already irreversible. Years and even decades could be lost and generations of people’s lives could be ruined before people can begin to wonder how things could have possibly gone wrong. The Iraq war was a bad idea that was implemented even before common folks could get around to thinking about and discussing its possible consequences. Sadly, the Americans are not the only people who will suffer for years to come as a result of the ill-thought-out war.

Recent events have made some people reflect on the legacy of past world leaders and how they affected their society and the world around it. When news of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s death from a stroke at age 87 made headlines around the world, the reaction was mixed. Whether they view her as their greatest or their worst leader, the one thing most people agree on is that she was one of the most “polarizing” leaders of the free world.

To those who laud Thatcher, they saw the Iron Lady’s 11-year tenure in office as the decade that Great Britain kicked some ass, so to speak. After all, the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982 was thwarted when she ordered the British armed forces to “take care” of the Argentinean forces. She was also said to have been instrumental in that momentous event in 1989, which was the fall of the Berlin Wall. She could arguably have been the inspiration for some of the greatest hits from the United Kingdom. For they say that it was in the 1980s when inequality in the UK began to worsen resulting in the many riots, protests and hunger strikes that marked that decade for the UK. All that 1980s rock-n-roll fuelled by woes and discontent surely paid off in terms of music royalties — for some, at least.

Some financial industry pundits along with Prime Minister David Cameron himself also hailed Thatcher as the one who averted the possible financial collapse of the British Empire had it embraced the Euro. Even before the Euro was born, she was completely against the idea of a single currency for Europe. She was said to have fought a lone battle against adopting the Euro and the accompanying closer political and economic integration of the European nations. Unfortunately, her unpopular views caused factions within her own Labor party that saw her leadership challenged and eventually led to her ouster in 1990. The collapse of Iceland and Greece’s economy however, vindicated her but not until decades later.

According to an excerpt from her autobiography, Thatcher’s wisdom then which was being made to come across as xenophobic by her critics, was accurate in predicting that a single currency would not be able to “accommodate both industrial powerhouses such as Germany and smaller countries such as Greece”. Germany, forecast Thatcher, “would be phobic about inflation, while the euro would prove fatal to the poorer countries because it would “devastate their inefficient economies”.

To those who loathed Thatcher, her death was a cause for celebration, a time to dance for joy – on top of her grave if it were up to many of them. History had been kind to her despite the fact that her government supposedly initiated Britain’s de-industrialization. Her government cut down on manufacturing jobs and years of social unrest took place as a result. In retrospect, it probably didn’t make sense to a lot of people then that the world’s first industrial nation was trimming down its manufacturing industry. Thatcher’s government rationalized that this would make “industrial companies leaner and release labor to expand businesses in the more lucrative service sector”. Sadly, their prediction was wrong. Those who were laid off found it difficult to find work and some ended up with low paying jobs:

The loss of skilled manufacturing jobs widened inequality, with negative consequences for social mobility. In the 1980s, income inequality between the top and bottom 20 percent of British households widened by 60 percent. Inequality continued to rise, with only minor fluctuations, under Britain’s next three prime ministers, John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Basically, the British people lost their jobs even before Globalization – even before outsourcing manufacturing jobs to cheap labourers in developing countries came into vogue. No wonder some people hate her with a passion especially since Germany and France were able to maintain their manufacturing industries and sustained lower social inequality compared to Britain as a result.

It seems that Thatcher didn’t make any apologies for the loss of jobs nor the rising inequalities and the overall consequences of her government’s policies. Some claim that she lacked empathy for the poor and refer to them as “work-shy”. Ironically, her anti-poor policies seemed to have increased the number of poor people in the UK.

It is clear that Thatcher got some things right but she also got some things wrong. Some of her policies had devastating consequences to British society. Her arrogance ultimately prevented her from accepting realities.

We can only learn from the lessons of how arrogance during Thatcher’s and George W Bush’s terms destroyed lives and livelihood. So to the Filipinos who think they are ready to implement their brilliant ideas: think again. Even a luminary like Thatcher fell into the trap of wallowing in her own crap a few times in her career. It seemed to happen when she declared the discussion over.

In the Philippines, public servants quite often make mistakes that affect millions of Filipino lives because they rush into action without even thinking. Unfortunately, their actions reveal they are only concerned about their own personal agendas that hardly benefit the majority of the Filipino people.

Posted in Culture, Government, Politics, Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 132 Comments

Oakley: Killer Eyewear?

oakley rajiv dargani 2(Rajiv Dargani, the President of Sunglass Hut Philippines, who killed one person and maimed another in a series of car collisions on Mckinley Road in Makati, has not yet surrendered.  Police say he is liable for homicide, physical injuries and abandonment of one’s victim.  Other online articles hint that Dargani may have been under the influence when he caused a series of collisions on Mckinley in the wee hours of Saturday April 20.)

In the wee hours of Saturday April 20, 2013, Henrix Bernardo and Glenn Nacion Jr. were riding a motorcycle on McKinley road in Makati City on their way home.  Then, just a few hundred meters on the road flanked by the country’s poshest enclaves, their motorcycle slammed into an Audi that had been bumped head-on by another Audi from an oncoming lane.  The Audi that started the series of collisions drove away from the accident and quickly disappeared behind the gates of Dasmarinas Village.

Henrix, the driver of the motorcycle, died on the spot.  His passenger Glenn survived with severe injuries and had to have one of his legs amputated.

mckinley road makatiIn the trickle of news reports that came days after the incident, not much was written about the circumstances of either Henrix or Glenn.  Ordinarily, such a news item would make it to the front page of most tabloids on Monday at the very latest and there would have been the typical outrage bleeding on the front page in bold, red letters: “Dalawang Nabundol ng Audi Sa Forbes Park, Tinakbuhan!”

One curious thing about tagalog news is that ordinary people who become victims of an accident are often referred to by the type of accident they were involved in.  For instance, fire victims are called “nasunog” (those who were burned), earthquake victims are called “nalindol” (those who were in the earthquake zone), or in this instance, car accident victims are referred to as “nabundol” or “nasagasaan”.

However, affluent and influential people who figure in an accident never lose their humanity.  They’re referred to by their names and rarely, if ever, are their disheveled or bloodied pictures carried on the front cover.

2009_audi_r8_quattro_w__auto_r_tronic-pic-61809

Moreover, if they cause an accident that claims the lives of people, they are usually not arrested on the scene.

As expected, it was only after almost a whole day had past that people found out the identity of the Audi driver who caused the accident.

Rajiv Dargani, the president of Sunglass Hut Philippines and  president of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce, was identified in police reports as the drive of the R-8 Audi with plate number JVV-88.

Sunglass Hut Philippines distributes Oakley Sunglasses, a rather popular high-end brand of eye wear.

According to one report, Dargani was liable for ” reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, physical injuries and abandonment of one’s victim”.

Other details surrounding the accident on McKinley were hinted at in other articles, like “Horror on Mckinely”:

While the crash may not have been a terrorist act with the same magnitude as the Boston Marathon explosions, witnesses said they were aghast and appalled to see the driver of the R8 speeding away from the accident, going straight towards the entrance of Dasmariñas Village where he reportedly instructed security guards not to let anyone enter the Village. The driver – said to be a wealthy young man who has a business importing eyewear (an oaky-dokey kind of brand) – was allegedly high on booze and prohibited drugs.

Ten years ago, a similar incident also happened to a businessman involved in a hit-and-run, then later on paid his driver to take the blame. This time however, there is no chance for the Indian national pinning the blame on anyone else since he was positively identified by the driver of the other Audi as clearly the one on the wheel. Several sources said Makati police authorities as well as Mayor Junjun Binay have reportedly been informed of the accident and the Dasmariñas Village address of the R8 vehicle driver already pinpointed. A manhunt has supposedly been launched with a warrant of arrest being prepared, our Spy Bits sources claimed.

In another column, “Deadly Traffic Accidents“, the author underscores the implications of allowing Dargani to get away scott-free:

And even if the victims’ would no longer pursue formal charges against him for whatever reason known only to them, Dargani should not be allowed to leave the country until he is held liable for making a mockery of our criminal justice system. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima should keep a tab on this case. This is one too many accidents.

So far, the latest word about Dargani is that he was recuperating after being traumatized by the accident and had sent surrender feelers.

So far, Dargani hasn’t surrendered yet.

While we are certain that the eye wear brand Oakley doesn’t condone drunk driving or running over people with cars, this accident caused by the president of the company that distributes Oakley in the Philippines is certainly enough to consider boycotting this eye wear brand.

Posted in Crime, Media | Tagged , , , , | 42 Comments