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December 12, 2014

Philippine Technocracy and the Politics of Economic Decision Making during the Martial Law Period by Teresa S. Encarnacion Tadem, University of the Philippines Diliman


December 9, 2014

Behold, another communist is being placed on a pedestal.

The trouble with these re-invigorated efforts to extol those so-called freedom fighters of old who fought the Marcos Dictatorship is— it seems that all of them were Communists, or somehow linked with the Communists!  I wonder why.

The inevitable question thus comes: were they fighters against dictatorship and for the cause of freedom— or fighters for the cause of communism? Which is which?:  Communism never equated with freedom.

If unwittingly, it does seem instead to validate Marcos’ claim then that his government was waging a war against armed communists whose ultimate goal was to seize control of government, the reason why he declared Martial law, assumed dictatorial powers and extended his term by default.

Of course the anti-Marcos forces would have none of that:  pooh,  it was all about his barbaric nature, his greed for power and wealth, period!

So, okay, will UP come next with Professor Joma Sison?   See, the man endured more than Jopson ever did and far longer.

But it helps pondering about:  what if the Marcos government went more softly on them instead? Rather than drive them into the mountains to be fighting with the underground movement, what if the government did not fight,  just let them Communists rove about and allowed them free rein? I reckon, with its armed component, the NPA,  along with the support of the media, and of popular politicians like Ninoy Aquino, academic scholars and intellectuals, plus the masses behind them, they could very well have prevailed easily.  Now, imagine Edjop and his communist comrades marching into Malacañang Palace as victors, to the jubilant cheering of the people.

I wonder if we would not have ended up as another Cambodia or Vietnam– just another vast, gruesome Killing Fields.


November 21, 2014

Does Vice-President Jojo Binay belong to the Opposition?

No, I think NOT.  As much as I try to persuade myself he does, the more I find the man an impostor.

One, why would the supposed topmost leader of the Opposition be angling, even imploring, to be anointed by the President no less, to become the standard bearer of the ruling party in the next election?  Odd, stupendously odd.  Weird things happen in Philippine politics, but this is in the order of That’s Incredible.

Two, when did he ever uphold or support the contrary stand of the Opposition on matters of grave importance?   As far as I could remember, he was consistently a silent bystander .  Well, he did say some adverse words attacking the administration recently but obviously out of hurt over the investigations being conducted into alleged anomalies involving him by allies of the President.

Three, he is a close, extremely loyal Aquino family friend… he was, is, and will always be Yellow— he made that clear in more ways than one.  And he intends to keep the color for good.  So, unless he is betrayed, he will remain so…

It is this knowing that works me up time and again into teasing those fierce anti-Binay PNoy fans , and boy I just love it.    But this is also why I am profoundly perplexed why some known anti-PNoy personalities would be so excited about Jojo Binay leading the challenge to the PNoy administration.  Are they being naive?

Right now,  PNoy is really deciding between only two on who to anoint in the 2016 Presidential derby:  Mar Roxas and  Jojo Binay.   The problem of PNoy with Binay is the latter’s plunging reputation due to allegations of massive corruption, but it is a testament to Binay’s durability that he remains a distant front runner in surveys.  With PNoy’s endorsement, Binay is a sure winner.  But how could PNoy, the torchbearer of  Daang Matuwid, endorse one who is being accused of corruption, at such a scale yet, without disgracing himself?    On the other hand, the problem with Mar Roxas, his supposedly more preferred choice, is the exact opposite:  he is perceived as clean/not corrupt alright, but his survey numbers are so disappointing as to predict this early, he can never win.

In the end, I think it will be the dictates of realpolitik  prevailing— winnability— and so Binay will be Pnoy’s candidate in the next Presidential election.  The anti-Binay Daang Matuwid believers will be banging their heads in grave disappointment indeed but, well,  they will learn to love Binay.

The Opposition, or whatever remains of it, on the other hand would be left to hang dry on the wayside. Unless they wake up to the reality soon enough that Binay is not among them and so must find someone else from among their ranks to raise the flag.


November 19, 2014

On a short essay I wrote in college about the topic Balance of Power, I used the analogy of a seesaw.  I wrote then that indeed as long as the weights on both ends of a seesaw are about equal, there should be balance and the seesaw would be parallel to the ground, representing equilibrium.   The idea is, where there is equilibrium or balance, in pretty much all analogous situations, there would be peace and stability.  In the race for superiority therefore of two competing or warring forces, relative equilibrium is assured as long as no side achieves a clear superiority over the other over the course of time even as rivalry rages.   As astute an analogy though it seems,  I warned that, just as in a seesaw, in due course, as you keep adding weight on either side, a point comes when the weight on both sides, though balanced, becomes too heavy for the seesaw to bear, it eventually crashes down on its own fulcrum.

My American professor must have loved than one, he gave it a good grade.    You make good analogies, he remarked, just don’t overdo it.

I like analogies.  If you construct a good one, the issue could emerge surprisingly with more clarity.  It simplifies the complex, you could see the whole more readily where you get so easily bogged down on details.  It lets you in on a view deck.  In an argument you could show your line of reasoning in a more picturesque manner.

But there are hazards.   One that abides by a foregone conclusion is hardly helpful or valuable.  Indeed, there are good as well as bad analogies.

Let us take the “Daang matuwid” slogan meant as a battle cry for Good Government of the incumbent for example.  Understandably, Daang Matuwid or Straight Path was appropriated for its connotation of righteousness, virtue, rectitude, goodness, honesty, uprightness and everything good and noble which the current administration presents itself to be.  In contrast, a crooked path is one which connotes malignancy and depravity and everything bad and crooked, which the past administration is supposed to embody.   Following this line, Daang Matuwid is clearly meant as analogous to good governance.

Yet literal paths or roads are in reality often not straight, more commonly winding, zigzagging, twisting, bending, meandering, always adjusting to the contours, formation and obstacles of the topography.  Straight paths, you find only in flat, open surfaces of unobstructed expanse, but even so, their straightness ends somewhere.  Indeed, roads are built not to conform to the straightness of a straight line but in consideration of the terrain.   For instance, no one builds a straight road that climbs a mountain or one that intends to cut across an impossible obstacle; that would be insane.  Good roads, reality tells us, are those that adjust well to the formations of the ground, not those that disregard it.

Thus, in the sense that Straight Roads are in actuality much too uncommon and unreal, Daang Matuwid too has become kind of an unwieldy, awkward representation of good governance.  No wonder therefore that Daang Matuwid has instead become an imagery to unthinking obstinacy, somewhat akin to a road that plows through straight to nowhere regardless… Straight indeed, and full speed ahead but… hey can I get off here please?

All in all, it is a clumsy analogy.  But then maybe it is a slip of the tongue, the subconscious suggesting?

Good governance, I would say, is more akin to a good service bus with a good driver on the steering wheel.  The bus is the bureaucracy and the machinery of government and the driver is the President.  The people are the passengers on board. The roads being traversed are rough and dangerous, slippery at times, on either side are deep ravines and falls, but the driver has a steady hand and the passengers are confident that the one on the steering wheel is one hell of a good driver and the vehicle would not sputter on the climb.  If occasionally he stops and checks the vehicle, it is to ensure that the engine and all its parts are sound and in their best condition.  When at times he takes a longer stopover to survey the road ahead and consult with the passengers, it is to ensure that the road is passable and that they are in this together,  come what may.

Now, is that not a better analogy?

I suppose that if pathways are to be useful as analogy, perhaps it would be more fit in relation to where we are now and where we are going.  Are we following the right road?  Or are we even going in the right direction?  How far are we to our destination?   Which one should we take next?   What does it take to bring us there?

With this revised analogy, you might come to the conclusion that we are going nowhere because, one, we, the passengers, are quarreling much too often over so many petty things that the driver does not know whom to follow; two, the bus is just too rickety and old, besides being overloaded, to get us anywhere, and third— the driver himself does not know how to drive.


November 11, 2014

Ang dahilan ko mga kababayan e dahil sa marami na akong naririnig na ako ay ganito…ako ay mahusay, ako ay naging debater, ako ay abogado, e sobra na ‘tong mga sinabi niyang ganyan na kumpirmadong sinabi niya, e ayaw ko naman hong maging..ang pagkakalilala niyo sa aking mga kababayan ay mapang-api, mapagsamantala…so tama na po ‘yun.

Vice-President Jejomar Binay in explaining why he is backing out of the debate he himself proposed as a challenge to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

(My translation:  My reason (for backing out), my fellow countrymen, is, having already heard a great deal  about me… me being good, me having been a debater, me being a lawyer, he has been saying a lot too much already and that is confirmed, and as I do not relish being regarded by you as unkind and opportunistic… so enough already.)


November 6, 2014

I would have posted it earlier but I discovered it only now.  We Are the World for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda:


October 29, 2014

Watch this with an open mind, and be ready to be shocked.

And here’s a BBC documentary:


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