Sunday, May 9, 2010
Saving the pearl of the orient
The Philippines was once the Pearl of the Orient, but now being rampaged by ignorance, narcissism, and greed. I remember, as a boy swimming in the clear waters of the beaches and rushing streams from waterfalls, passing through lively rivers. The poor got to fish and planted vegetables. Tilapia was free, for example, yes ! My siblings and I all graduated from the elementary public school system with decently-paid professional teachers, and the town clinic offered good primary care for the folks…. My mother ran for the position of Vice-Mayor and lost by 100+ votes. Her running-mate for Mayoralty lost by some 50+ votes and is the son of the incumbent Mayor at that time. It was taboo to fix the results to win.
From the perspective of social psychology ( I practice psychotherapy ), it seems to me, the culture markedly changed when Ferdinand Marcos institutionalized militarization of ALL aspects of the socio-politico-economic life of the nation. When he appointed ex-generals to civilian positions in government, he created a culture of “ Social Darwinism, “ which essentially means the physically strongest rules the land, and the weakest is left, in extreme cases, dying ever so slowly or tortured, even before they are killed. This mindset sets into motion the subtle but toxic, uncivilized attitude of shoot first, talk or negotiate later. But the Philippine Government is supposed to be a CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT.
Conversely, the perpetrators not only get off the hook, they are rewarded with mansions in exclusive/gated communities. In Behavior Psychology, the bad guys are enabled or spoiled. Try tolerating your kid stealing a hundred pesos from your wallet. Pretty soon, he will drill empty your safe deposit box of jewelries and stashed cash, forge your signature and cash your checks for thousands of pesos, and withdraw cash using your ATM card…
Two EDSA People Power Revolutions have come and gone and no big fish has been hailed to court. You see the plunderers being adored once again; worse, they moralize in public without returning their loots, at least, or serving time. Where is restitution? Bandera et al posit in their Social Learning Theory, that children learn what they see. Parents, authority figures, celebrities, and government officials are critical role models in society. Do we wonder why we have a proliferation of robbery and kidnap gangs? I can hear the dialogue in these criminals’ minds: “ Hypocrites! We’re all the same.. We steal a few millions, you steal hundreds of billions. What right do you have to punish us?! “ The government has lost its moral authority.
In the early 1930s, Germany was so poor after the recession, its people were desperately seeking for a messianic leader. They found one in a master strategist with a gift of tongue that would mesmerize them for more than a decade. He brought them out of recession, restored their pride among the nations of the world, and made them a world power in no time, but at terrible cost to them and the rest of the world! His name? Adolf Hitler.
In 1972, a bar topnotcher, similarly mesmerized me and my generation into thinking he would bring the country into a new era, the New Society, make it at par with rising Singapore…. Just sacrifice our freedom and we will progress. Well, the few rich were replaced by new rich friends…
In 2010, the specter of Martial Law all over again is real, looking at the picture, by virtue of being outside the frame. How ironic is it that the spokesperson who dropped the remark was a wanted refugee of the dictator’s years! Recent events showing massive glitches in the Automated Election System (AES) of the Philippine Commission of Elections have raised the probability of a real failure of elections leading to chaos. Were these errors, compromising the integrity of the machines and the process, gross incompetence or planned failures? Did the spokesperson know something we do not know?
What the nation needs is deep, authentic healing from the multiple traumas the people have suffered from centuries of violence from foreign oppressors. It does no good to the national psyche for a Filipino to continue the oppression of her own people. This is beyond political stripes or factions. My appeal to Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1978 ( with members holding key command positions in the military ) is to shed their label and think of love of country, which is imbedded in their hearts; for government officials to think beyond self; for President Gloria Arroyo to touch base with the Higher Power in her heart, the Light of the Holy Spirit. All this worldly power will come to an end someday and, like Ari Onassis’ alter ego, we will realize on our death bed, “ We are not gods. “ Then the nation will heal, move forward, and thrive!