GMA NEWS NETWORK EDITORIAL/OPINION

By Efren Padilla, TRANSMOGRIFICATION: A TALE OF 2 PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANTS  

Found in antiquity, the idea of transmogrification is common in many cultures. Legends and fables allow for the morphing of human beings into another being or form like sorcerers, witches, or werewolves. Today, it remains a common trope in modern technology through video games and movies. Particularly, I am amazed watching the younger generation transform video game characters into strange or grotesque appearances. Now that’s a thought. It occurred to me that if there is technological transmogrification, there is also what I would call political transmogrification, Philippine-style. Of course, I am not saying that our politicians will actually change into another being or form, although we are fond of calling the corrupt type as “baboy” or “buwaya.” For me, it is just a different way of retelling something. In this sense, it is an allegory—a story of how political characters change from good to bad and not the other way around.

There are two political transmogrification stories that are dominating the national landscape now—that of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has already made his intention to run for president known and is noticeably doing the rounds all over the archipelago, and Secretary Mar Roxas, who has yet to declare his intention although he is most likely to get his party’s nomination. Binay is an interesting story. He has journeyed in the timeline of his political life from a human rights lawyer who fought the Marcos dictatorship and was imprisoned, to a defender of pro-democracy forces in preventing mutineers against President Corazon Aquino, and now a presidential aspirant accused of involvement in a massive corruption scandal together with his family.

Roxas has an interesting story too. From the number one senator popularly known as “Mr. Palengke,” to a leading presidential contender who benched himself to play second fiddle to the son of President Corazon Aquino and lost while his friend PNoy won, he was once derided as “Boy Pick Up.” Now he is lagging behind in the polls for presidential aspirants. I think if one is to look for a common plot in their disparate stories—that chronological sequence of events and logical structure that connects those events—it won’t be that difficult to spot. Consider this. If the accusations are true, Binay’s story will be a story of a good person corrupted by greed. As a person who comes from humble origins and socialized with great idealism, his alleged transmogrification is unexceptional. In many cases, his story is not unusual. It goes this way: At first, presented with the opportunity, there is that curiosity of how to amass wealth. Then there is that excitement of the discovery on how to do it. And then he actually does it, then he devises ways and means to hide it and not get caught. The last one is a simple truth among politicians. When one is involved in corruption, one must be sure not to get caught. * READ MORE...

ALSO: PostScript ni Jessica Soho: Sa Kabila ng Peligro 

Sa ating bansa, malayang nakapapasok sa eskuwelahan ang sinumang nais matuto. Walumpu't anim na porsiyento nga po ng mga Pilipino, marunong magbasa, magsulat at magkuwenta ng numero. Pero ang batang Pakistani na si Malala Yousafzai, binaril sa ulo matapos niyang ihayag ang kanyang pagtutol sa patakaran ng Taliban na pagbawalan ang mga batang babae na mag-aral. Sa kabila ng kanyang sinapit, hindi hinayaan ni Malala na mangibabaw ang takot. Dumagundong ang maliit niyang tinig sa buong mundo. At ngayon nga po, kinilala siya bilang pinakabatang winner ng Nobel Peace Prize. Ang pagbibigay-pugay kay Malala, naghahatid rin ng magandang pagkakataon para mag-isip at tanungin ang ating mga sarili — ano bang mga bagay ang handa nating ipaglaban sa mundo? Gagawin ba natin ito kahit maharap tayo sa matinding peligro? Ang “PostScript” ay binabasa ng anchor na si Jessica Soho sa dulo ng mga “SONA” newscast sa GMA News TV. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: By Antonio Contreras-- Authenticity deconstructed  

Contrary to popular belief, there are many virtues in politics. Far from being a world for the corrupt and a vocation for the corruptible, politics in fact, and ideally, like teaching, is a noble profession. In its ideal form, politics is about sacrificing one’s own interest to serve the greater good. In fact, the ideal of politics is loaded with moral norms and ethical considerations, a far cry from economics, where the fundamental ethical basis is selfishness, and where the pursuance of the common good becomes only an outcome, albeit unintended, of individuals maximizing their self-interests. Alas, politics has degenerated into something that is loathsome, where the standard used is no longer its ideal constructs, but the empirical reality of how people in power have used their positions to advance their own selfish interests.

Hence, it now becomes a struggle for one to make visible that which is redeemable in politics. Ideally, one of the political virtues that are supposed to be kept alive is authenticity, for it is in being authentic that one’s politics is supposed to become principled. And to be authentic, one must become consistent and sincere. I may disagree with the political orientations of some, as I have fundamental differences with deeply conservative people for example, but will have nothing but respect for conservatives who are consistent in making visible their conservatism, as long as it is in the pursuance of what they think as the common good. * READ MORE...

ALSO by Antonio Contreras: Blind idolatry and the irrational elites 

He will still vote for Binay, despite all the things that are being said about him. This is what
this ordinary guy told me one night I was hanging out at the entrance of my condo in Vito
Cruz. We are usually part of a group congregating around the balut vendor who has become a regular there. This informal community is like the “umpukan” usually found in street corners. Indeed, even in this vertical urban community, the ritual of making “kwento” after dinner is a tradition that may have been diminished, but has not been totally eradicated as a practice among ordinary peoples.

After all, while the group, mostly male, is composed mainly of middle class, blue-collar workers, and professionals, we are still ordinary Pinoys. This guy I am referring to works as a casino dealer. He's a graduate of criminology, and is surprisingly interested in politics. He always engages me in small talk about political developments, probing my position on issues. He knows that I am sometimes invited to render my opinion on issues on TV and in radio talk shows, and so he takes every opportunity to further quiz me about politics. But on that night, it was my turn to quiz him. I was particularly interested in how ordinary citizens react to the methodical, almost striptease-like demolition of Jojo Binay by his political enemies, and how this affects their views of him. Yes, the guy is fully familiar with what is happening. Yes, he knows that the Binays are being accused of corruption. And yes, he is convinced that the accusations are probably true. But yes, he will still be voting for Jojo Binay nevertheless. When I probed him for answers, his response was characteristic not of somebody blindly loyal, but one who has a sense of pragmatism.

According to him, even if Binay is guilty, he gets things done and has a track record. This guy is resigned to the fact that politicians are a bunch of tainted, flawed characters, but the more important trait is to show results. In short, what the country needs is someone who can rescue us from the problems we face, and not someone who may be squeaky clean but is totally inept. And yes, for him, it also did not help at all that the people behind the attacks on Binay are also one way or the other accused of, or implicated in, the PDAF and DAP controversies. When I asked him about Mar Roxas, his reply was dismissive. He is too elite, according to him, and too trying hard. When I asked him about giving PNoy another term, he laughed and rhetorically asked me if this is even possible since it is not allowed in the Constitution. Besides, he thinks PNoy is only good in going after his enemies, and has utterly failed in solving the problems of the ordinary people. * READ MORE...

ALSO: By Harvey Keh --Why I am confused with the Left  

“The time for ‘sober discourse’ has long ended…it is about time that people ‘express their anger’ against the administration of President Noynoy Aquino.”  This was part of the statement made by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Manila Chairperson Francisco Mariazeta III during the commemoration of the 42nd Anniversary of Martial Law and also in part to justify what militant students affiliated with BAYAN did to Budget Sec. Butch Abad last week in a forum at the University of the Philippines. It will be recalled that after the said forum on the Development Acceleration Program, Abad was on his way out when several militant students mobbed him and even threatened to physically harm him. This very sad incident was immediately condemned by the faculty of the UP School of Economics and the UP School of Economics Student Council.

Who was really bullied?  This statement by BAYAN and the Left is confusing in many ways since just a few weeks ago, one of their party-list representatives, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon, was up in arms because he was apparently “bullied” by Senate President Franklin Drilon during a dinner party. Drilon reportedly confronted him about all the accusations that Ridon was throwing at him regarding the apparent overpricing of the Iloilo Convention Center. In his statement, Ridon even demanded that Drilon apologize to him for what he did. If that is considered bullying, then what can we make of the treatment their militant student leaders gave toward Abad? Given that what happened to Abad is even worse than what Ridon accuses Drilon of, will they also ask their student leaders to apologize to Abad?  Justifying the use of force and violence Also, isn’t it further perplexing that many of those who are now part of BAYAN were also victims of violence during Martial Law? Now, they are suddenly justifying the physical harming of Abad by saying that the time for sober discourse is now over. * READ MORE...

ALSO Editorial: The yaya-raised Hong Kong protest generation 

OCT 5 --PHOTO: Many of the Hong Kong protesters are young women, prepared for teargas and pepper spray attacks.  Last Saturday afternoon along a bustling street in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong, I was apparently looking lost when a smiling young Hong Kong couple approached me. "Excuse me, is there a way we can help you?" asked the woman who had gleaming white teeth. I said no thank you, I was just waiting for a cab, but had they by any chance just come from one of the city's protest areas? They had indeed, with both wearing the black shirts that the pro-democracy activists wear to convey their seriousness ("This is not a party, it's a protest," says one big hand-painted sign hanging from an overpass). In all my years of going to Hong Kong from the time I was a teenager, this visit has been the very first time that anyone has volunteered to help me on the street. It has happened many times in the last several days.

What has astonished me nearly as much as the courage of students challenging the Chinese government is how polite they have been. For all the attractions that Hong Kong offers to millions of tourists a year, friendliness, politeness, and helpfulness are not among them. But I have seen these virtues in copious amounts among the crowds of young people who are engaged in one of the most quixotic protest movements of our time. Could this sea change in character also be part of the future that Hong Kong youth are aching to build? As soon as it starts raining, students who have been sleeping in the streets suddenly show up offering anyone unprotected an umbrella. Helpful volunteers hold you so you can safely climb improvised ladders on the concrete barriers all along the barricaded main street, Connaught Road.

I approached one young protester in a busy alley who was holding a sign offering free translation services to foreign media. Once I indicated my interest, two of her colleagues soon showed up to assist me, both recent graduates of Cambridge law school in the UK who spoke impeccable Queen's English. They accompanied me throughout my first afternoon in Central, translating but also explaining the roots of the crisis. It could be that these youths are just practicing good PR as part of their strategy for overcoming the brute advantages of government forces. Their thorough preparations, the teach-ins by college professors and student leaders, and even their manual for civil disobedience are now well-known to those who have observed their disciplined, well-organized campaign of non-violent dissent. But Filipino residents of Hong Kong who have watched the events there unfold also credit how the present generation was raised – many by Filipina yayas. * READ MORE..


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Transmogrification: A tale of two presidential aspirants


BINAY, ROXAS

MANILA, OCTOBER 13, 2014 (GMA NEWS NETWORK)  By EFREN N. PADILLA - Found in antiquity, the idea of transmogrification is common in many cultures. Legends and fables allow for the morphing of human beings into another being or form like sorcerers, witches, or werewolves.

Today, it remains a common trope in modern technology through video games and movies.

Particularly, I am amazed watching the younger generation transform video game characters into strange or grotesque appearances. Now that’s a thought. It occurred to me that if there is technological transmogrification, there is also what I would call political transmogrification, Philippine-style.

Of course, I am not saying that our politicians will actually change into another being or form, although we are fond of calling the corrupt type as “baboy” or “buwaya.” For me, it is just a different way of retelling something. In this sense, it is an allegory—a story of how political characters change from good to bad and not the other way around.

There are two political transmogrification stories that are dominating the national landscape now—that of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has already made his intention to run for president known and is noticeably doing the rounds all over the archipelago, and Secretary Mar Roxas, who has yet to declare his intention although he is most likely to get his party’s nomination.

Binay is an interesting story. He has journeyed in the timeline of his political life from a human rights lawyer who fought the Marcos dictatorship and was imprisoned, to a defender of pro-democracy forces in preventing mutineers against President Corazon Aquino, and now a presidential aspirant accused of involvement in a massive corruption scandal together with his family.

Roxas has an interesting story too. From the number one senator popularly known as “Mr. Palengke,” to a leading presidential contender who benched himself to play second fiddle to the son of President Corazon Aquino and lost while his friend PNoy won, he was once derided as “Boy Pick Up.” Now he is lagging behind in the polls for presidential aspirants.

I think if one is to look for a common plot in their disparate stories—that chronological sequence of events and logical structure that connects those events—it won’t be that difficult to spot.

Consider this.

If the accusations are true, Binay’s story will be a story of a good person corrupted by greed. As a person who comes from humble origins and socialized with great idealism, his alleged transmogrification is unexceptional. In many cases, his story is not unusual.

It goes this way: At first, presented with the opportunity, there is that curiosity of how to amass wealth. Then there is that excitement of the discovery on how to do it. And then he actually does it, then he devises ways and means to hide it and not get caught. The last one is a simple truth among politicians. When one is involved in corruption, one must be sure not to get caught.

* Likewise, if the alleged blighted image of Roxas persists, his story will be a story of a good person spoiled by hubris. As a person who comes from the upper crust of society, his transmogrification is not unusual too. His story goes this way:

Without the benefit of experiencing the struggles and sufferings of a deprived life, there is that inclination to begin his political life with the mannerisms of noblesse oblige. And then he realizes that he can actually do it in his unabashedly snobbish bourgeois way.

Although named as “Asia’s political leader of the new millennium,” he never managed to brush off his image as a cold and arrogant technocrat. And then, almost like an overlord, he stubbornly expects his subalterns to always remain warm and loyal to him. An observant kapartido of his bluntly puts it to me: “No way, Jose, is this guy going to win!”

At this moment when our country is being buffeted by scandal after scandal and is desperately seeking the right leader, these are unfortunate stories to think about. One wishes they could have been more uplifting. But they are what they are, and without that proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel,” our country may soon trudge again wearily through yet another fatuous spectacle, into which our politics has degenerated.

But perhaps there is an upside to this saga. In defiance of the status quo, new stories could now emerge. Hopefully, they will be stories of young, upstanding, well-educated, and progressive leaders who can steer the Ship of State away from the iceberg of abusive and arrogant politics.

Certainly, I see a few good prospects out there but the one I have grown to appreciate is not even thinking about it.

A couple of years ago, I was introduced by a friend to a young senator and contemporary of PNoy while doing my pro bono planning consultancies in Mindanao. In that meeting, I noticed that he didn’t say much but simply listened. His silence made me wary, although I thought he was just being polite or guarded.

But when I talked about the possibilities of turning selected parts of Mindanao into city-states (à la Singapore) toward an interconnected and balanced maritime development for the entire island, his quiet demeanor changed.

He nodded with genuine and deep concern and shared with me his vision and love for our second largest island. Like me, he is very much concerned about the unsustainable and unbalanced development of our country. That is, the overdevelopment of certain areas of Luzon at the expense of Mindanao and Visayas.

Apparently, he knew what he was talking about. In the course of our conversation, I learned that his family's roots are in Mindanao and Visayas, and that he was also once a representative from northern Mindanao.

For a moment I saw in that encounter a hopeful glimpse of our country overcoming its new challenges. I was elated to know that we still have in our midst political visionaries who put our country’s welfare first before self-interest.

The author is a full professor at California State University, East Bay. His areas of specialization are urban sociology, urban planning, and social demography. During his quarter breaks, he provides pro bono planning consultancy to selected LGUs in the Philippines.

PostScript ni Jessica Soho: Sa Kabila ng Peligro October 10, 2014 10:53pm 1 2 0 5

Sa ating bansa, malayang nakapapasok sa eskuwelahan ang sinumang nais matuto. Walumpu't anim na porsiyento nga po ng mga Pilipino, marunong magbasa, magsulat at magkuwenta ng numero.

Pero ang batang Pakistani na si Malala Yousafzai, binaril sa ulo matapos niyang ihayag ang kanyang pagtutol sa patakaran ng Taliban na pagbawalan ang mga batang babae na mag-aral.

Sa kabila ng kanyang sinapit, hindi hinayaan ni Malala na mangibabaw ang takot. Dumagundong ang maliit niyang tinig sa buong mundo. At ngayon nga po, kinilala siya bilang pinakabatang winner ng Nobel Peace Prize.

Ang pagbibigay-pugay kay Malala, naghahatid rin ng magandang pagkakataon para mag-isip at tanungin ang ating mga sarili — ano bang mga bagay ang handa nating ipaglaban sa mundo? Gagawin ba natin ito kahit maharap tayo sa matinding peligro?

Ang “PostScript” ay binabasa ng anchor na si Jessica Soho sa dulo ng mga “SONA” newscast sa GMA News TV.

Authenticity deconstructed By ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS, October 2, 2014 3:56pm 1185 47 4 1250 Tags: Benigno Aquino III


ANTONIO CONTRERAS

Contrary to popular belief, there are many virtues in politics. Far from being a world for the corrupt and a vocation for the corruptible, politics in fact, and ideally, like teaching, is a noble profession.

In its ideal form, politics is about sacrificing one’s own interest to serve the greater good.

In fact, the ideal of politics is loaded with moral norms and ethical considerations, a far cry from economics, where the fundamental ethical basis is selfishness, and where the pursuance of the common good becomes only an outcome, albeit unintended, of individuals maximizing their self-interests.

Alas, politics has degenerated into something that is loathsome, where the standard used is no longer its ideal constructs, but the empirical reality of how people in power have used their positions to advance their own selfish interests.

Hence, it now becomes a struggle for one to make visible that which is redeemable in politics.

Ideally, one of the political virtues that are supposed to be kept alive is authenticity, for it is in being authentic that one’s politics is supposed to become principled.

And to be authentic, one must become consistent and sincere.

I may disagree with the political orientations of some, as I have fundamental differences with deeply conservative people for example, but will have nothing but respect for conservatives who are consistent in making visible their conservatism, as long as it is in the pursuance of what they think as the common good.

* On the other hand, I have nothing but disdain for people who are terribly inconsistent about their politics. Inconsistency becomes the source of inauthenticity, and these two become the foundations for opportunistic, unprincipled politics.

Thus, I could not understand why someone who is fighting for the rights of the environment is also a heavy smoker.

Neither could I understand how one could be a left-wing firebrand, fighting for the rights of workers in factories, but is also a female chauvinist.

And this is precisely why it is very problematic to me when someone incessantly posts, tweets and shouts in social media one’s condemnation of martial law, and emphatically declares “never again” as a political mantra, and yet in the same breath actively defends the megalomaniacal tendency of one who is afflicted with a messianic complex.

Worse, I am scandalized by anti-martial law activists who in the same breath join those who condemn acts of resistance against the establishment as forms of hooliganism.

“Never again” implies a closure of any possibility to allow anyone to even dare appropriate as one’s monopoly the task of cleaning the stables of our polity. After all, the rise of the dictatorship was not just because Marcos appropriated all the powers of the state to himself. More importantly, its legitimacy was forced on people on the basis of making us accept that such is necessary, as it is the only way to address the threats which the political community faced at the time.

Hence, “never again” is an utterance against someone who would even dare think that he is the only one that has a right to straighten this crooked land, and in doing so, would move heaven and earth to defy, abolish or change the constitution.

“Never again” suggests that there is no exception to the rule, that there is no privileged context that exempts, and that there is no excuse for anyone to do away with the rule of law, or to make shortcuts in the constitutional processes.

“Never again” applies to Enrile, Estrada, Revilla and Napoles as it applied to Gloria. But it must and should apply as well to PNoy.

“Never again” is about stopping a new Marcos from emerging. And an Aquino, definitely, could not and should not be placed outside its reach.

The second operative attribute to attain authenticity is sincerity, or what can be construed as being organic and natural, as opposed to being synthetic and plastic.

Sincerity is something that resonates with ordinary peoples, as it evokes a sense of being one with them. This is precisely why people who seek political office exert a lot of effort to give the impression that they are from the masses.

Hence, we see all the baby-kissing, boodle-fighting, hand-shaking routines of candidates, even as there is this scramble to look the look, and even talk the talk of ordinary peoples, to a point that politicians take on desperate measures to do things which ordinary peoples do.

Mar Roxas took on so many roles in his bid to make people believe that he has escaped his elite class origins—from carpentry, to traffic enforcement, to stevedoring.

Miriam Santiago has appropriated the language of the youth, with her stand-up spiels and pick-up lines. Jamby Madrigal used her being allegedly a look-alike of Judy Ann Santos, even as La Gloria appropriated her imagined similarity in height with, and for having a facial mole like, that of La Nora’s.

And politicians of all shapes and sizes try hard to dance on stage the dances popular to the masses, from doing the Cha Cha Cha to one to the tune of La Bamba.

But try as they may, and some may succeed in making some people believe, in the final end their real selves will defy their pretensions, and will emerge.

There will come a time that the stage-managing of politics, which is founded on the creation of invented narratives, like the one that evokes some sense of heroism, if not of the person, then of his or her parents, will eventually unravel, and the real persona would be revealed.

This is exactly what is happening to PNoy. As one who rose on the power of conjured and inherited narratives, benighted by the death of his parents, and constructed from a skillful recasting of a mediocre performance in public office to become the most powerful person of the Republic, there is now indication that the authentic PNoy is being revealed for what he truly is.

Far from the organic embeddedness of the narratives of Cory and Ninoy, his is now gradually acquiring the synthetic nature true of his being a detached elite haciendero.

When confronted in Yolanda by a complaint of someone whose house was looted, his reply was true to form of a moneyed cacique—devoid of sympathy, dismissive and pregnant with arrogance in pointing out that the one who complained should stop whining, as he was still alive.

While on tour in the US, perhaps tired from the obligatory meetings and appearances that he had to attend to as a visiting Head of State, the stage-managed PNoy yielded to the authentic PNoy in showing two things that pleased him most—McDonald's hamburger and guns.

Truly, it is in moments of tiredness and exasperation that one’s real sources of sanity and relief are revealed. And to the complaining Filipino communities of San Francisco who expected that the President, who found time to eat in a neighborhood fast-food joint, and to shop for guns, would also spend some time with them, the official explanation from Malacañang only further made visible the detached, dismissive attitude of a tired celebrity politician, and not of one whose image is carved from what has been projected as a deeply embedded narrative of someone sincerely willing to make sacrifices to honor the name of his parents.

In fact, this was his narrative during the last SONA.

To paraphrase the retort of the Palace to the complaining Filipino expatriates, the President is tired, and if they only cared to check their records, he already gave them the privilege of an audience the last time he was there.

Hence, for PNoy, it is increasingly becoming apparent that his being synthetic is what is truly authentic. His being consistent is no longer doubted, even if one can no longer take comfort in it becoming a virtue, and his being sincere is now contravened by his almost childlike predisposition to act in characteristically uncharacteristic, i.e. eccentric and weird, ways.

And the real nature of the consistency and sincerity of the President is now further made apparent when he gave the PNP Chief the benefit of the doubt despite accusations of corruption. It is the same tenacity that he showed in obstinately clinging to Butch Abad despite the fact that it would have served him, and the government, better had he accepted the latter’s resignation.

Thus, what we have now is a consistently and sincerely hard-headed President. He has his own comfort zones which he would not dare touch. His loyalty to friends and to what makes him comfortable, are impressive. And his consistency in hounding his enemies, as seen in his persistent blaming of his predecessor, is remarkable, to a point that it is already bordering on the pathological.

This is the authentic PNoy.

And now, I am in quandary, for in the light of what he has become, PNoy has in fact deconstructed one of the remaining virtues of principled politics.

The curse of simulated politics, indeed, where images and reality are no longer different, and in fact become one and the same.

And in this world, authenticity may in fact lose political currency, as one can become consistently inconsistent, and sincerely insincere. That is, one can become authentically inauthentic.

Blind idolatry and the irrational elites By ANTONIO P. CONTRERASOctober 9, 2014 3:22pm 19.6K 90 8 19.7K Tags: Benigno Aquino III , Jejomar Binay


ANTONIO P. CONTRERA

He will still vote for Binay, despite all the things that are being said about him.

This is what this ordinary guy told me one night I was hanging out at the entrance of my condo in Vito Cruz. We are usually part of a group congregating around the balut vendor who has become a regular there. This informal community is like the “umpukan” usually found in street corners. Indeed, even in this vertical urban community, the ritual of making “kwento” after dinner is a tradition that may have been diminished, but has not been totally eradicated as a practice among ordinary peoples. After all, while the group, mostly male, is composed mainly of middle class, blue-collar workers, and professionals, we are still ordinary Pinoys.

This guy I am referring to works as a casino dealer. He's a graduate of criminology, and is surprisingly interested in politics. He always engages me in small talk about political developments, probing my position on issues. He knows that I am sometimes invited to render my opinion on issues on TV and in radio talk shows, and so he takes every opportunity to further quiz me about politics.

But on that night, it was my turn to quiz him. I was particularly interested in how ordinary citizens react to the methodical, almost striptease-like demolition of Jojo Binay by his political enemies, and how this affects their views of him.

Yes, the guy is fully familiar with what is happening. Yes, he knows that the Binays are being accused of corruption. And yes, he is convinced that the accusations are probably true. But yes, he will still be voting for Jojo Binay nevertheless.

When I probed him for answers, his response was characteristic not of somebody blindly loyal, but one who has a sense of pragmatism. According to him, even if Binay is guilty, he gets things done and has a track record. This guy is resigned to the fact that politicians are a bunch of tainted, flawed characters, but the more important trait is to show results. In short, what the country needs is someone who can rescue us from the problems we face, and not someone who may be squeaky clean but is totally inept.

And yes, for him, it also did not help at all that the people behind the attacks on Binay are also one way or the other accused of, or implicated in, the PDAF and DAP controversies.

When I asked him about Mar Roxas, his reply was dismissive. He is too elite, according to him, and too trying hard.

When I asked him about giving PNoy another term, he laughed and rhetorically asked me if this is even possible since it is not allowed in the Constitution. Besides, he thinks PNoy is only good in going after his enemies, and has utterly failed in solving the problems of the ordinary people.

* I imagine that this is a story that would once again draw the ire and raise the eyebrows of the upper class elites and moralists. I am sure as the sun rises in the morning that some will not only heap insults on guys like my casino dealer friend, but would even malign me, my style of writing, and would even dissect this article as if it is a dissertation treatise. Some will find fault in it, using rubrics that are applied in academic publications, something that is truly laughable considering that this is a blog, and not a manuscript published in a refereed abstracted journal.

This is simply because they disagree with its message.

I may not like Jojo Binay, but I will not be as bold in dismissing the views of this guy I talked to, and the rest of the 31 percent who still would vote for the Vice President despite the mud that has been thrown at him. Instead of indicting them for their preferences, what we should be indicting and holding accountable are those who were tasked to rescue us from the pits of political malaise, and have promised to make our lives better, but instead have miserably failed.

It is their failure that would make Binay a lesser evil. It is their sins of omission that would make Binay’s sins as palatable alternatives that would be easier to swallow.

Indeed, in a country whose capital is now at the brink of being in a state of constant paralysis brought about by horrendous traffic, disenabled by floods when it rains, whose highly mobile people are held hostage by a chaotic, breakdown-prone mass transit system, and whose sense of national pride takes a beating courtesy of an airport which has now been a two-peat winner in the worst airport of the world contest, Binay’s alleged sins would be easy to forgive and forget.

Many years back, when I was still dean of my college, I was part of a panel that selected the various graduation awardees. One of the questions we asked the student finalists was, who among the Presidents of our country would they consider the best? Every single one of them answered what to us, members of the panel, who all lived through the political discomforts and excesses of Martial Law, was a horrifying revelation—Ferdinand E. Marcos.

And when we probed them, it became apparent that their preference for the much-maligned dictator was not really an outcome of idolatrous worship. Their preference for Marcos was a result less of a glossing over of his excesses, but more as an indictment of the failures of those who succeeded him.

It is granted that many of the student finalists we interviewed were probably from the upper and elite classes. But it is equally true that the view they held is equally, if not more, pervasive among the lower classes and the ordinary citizens.

It is easy to dismiss the irrationality of the ordinary peoples. This is not a monopoly of the Pinoy elites but in fact is the same theme that played out in Thailand when the Bangkok elites looked down upon the Thai lower classes, who kept on electing Thaksin and his allies. After the coup in May of this year, the ruling bloc is now entertaining the option of revising the rules to prevent the emergence of another populist politician being elected by what to them were the unthinking, unwashed masses.

In Indonesia, the establishment politicians, shocked by the ascendancy of a rock-star Forester to the presidency, have now used their traditional bastions of elite power and are planning to rewrite the rules so that the Indonesian electorate will no longer once again have a direct voice in the election of future presidents.

Elites always look down on the rationality of the masses. They easily label the latter’s vote as a product of manipulation, of the masses being bought, or of lower classes being blindly loyal to populist political figures.

This is far from what I sense. I sense that the votes of the masses are a reflection of what can be considered as a rational choice of those who have less in life. They would favor those who they can relate with, and those who can bring them deliverance from their current states of unwell-being.

On the contrary, it is those who now make us accept that the only valid parameter of performance is the very abstract nature of reforms who can be accused of being guilty of fostering blind loyalty.

After all, the results they show as exhibits of success are the heads of a Corona now de-crowned as Chief Justice, of a Gloria now unglorified in her hospital bed, reportedly terribly ill in her arrested state, and of Tanda, Sexy and Pogi, a.k.a. the three senator-friends of Janet, now all jailbirds awaiting their fates. One of the reforms that they may have tried to push for was to accelerate the disbursement of government funds, but such has been shot down as procedurally unconstitutional, and to date evidences are piling up that the intended outcomes of the attempt to pump prime growth are in fact more imagined than real.

To someone who is in a constant state of food insecurity, and is highly vulnerable and has very few escape options when vital public services break down, jailing the corrupt is good, but it would never put food on the table and money in the pocket. We can call this as a reflection of a flawed sense of civics. We can even call it as a form of poverty too, in moral terms. But this is a highly rational stance nonetheless.

To a rational mind, the material which is more palpable and visible is the more valued warrant to any claim of having been compliant with the promise of delivering results. On the other hand, an idealistic mind would easily suspend consideration of the material, and would privilege the symbolic rewards that are associated with the abstract yet high-ordered parameters such as this intractable mantra of “reform,” as the more important credential for someone to become worthy of support.

It is in this context that those who would now ask people to bear suffering the inconvenience of a megalopolis in near-disarray, are the ones who can be accused of being irrational. It is those who would ask people to ignore their discomfort when streets are flooded, when trains bursting at their seams with exasperated commuters run with open doors, or worse stop in their tracks--this as a better option than risking their lives and property in the hands of street criminals who prey on them--who are in fact blinded. It is those who promise that there is “more to come” from a President on whom they have placed their hopes and dreams who are guilty of an unthinking form of loyalty.

It is those elites who are unfamiliar with the rational calculations of those who are poor who would have the temerity to condemn the latter’s preference for Binay or Marcos as a deeply flawed choice. They derided the Marcos loyalists as blinded fools, and they would now demean my friend and the 31 percent like him who would still vote for Binay as miserably wallowing in blind idolatry.

Yet, it is these people who are willing to suspend their judgment, and rest their hopes on the promise of a surname, on an inherited wisdom of dead parents, as if performance is something that is bequeathed and written in a last will and testament, that are guiltier of blind idolatry.

The poor favoring someone who has a record of delivering concrete results, palliatives they may be in some cases but still palpable, are in fact acting rationally. It is ethically problematic when they overlook the flaws and the corruption of their preferred political figures, but this is rationally defensible when one considers what they value as their urgent needs.

And the elites, most of whom are equipped with a higher education, some of whom in fact have graduate degrees attached to their names, are the ones who base their choices not on the empirical but the symbolic, not on the factual but on the mythical, not on the gut issues but on abstractions of yet to be felt reforms.

Indeed, it is tragic when people are forced to choose between reason and morals. But this is the sad reality, even more heightened when virtuous leaders fail to deliver on the gut issues.

The poor are simply loyal to their material interests. We can condemn them for their choices, but we could never demean them for acting irrationally against their interests.

It is the elites who are prone to blind loyalty, and have the tendency to elevate into a pedestal somebody who is not deserving of such an esteemed place. It is people like them who are willing to buck the force of constitutional stability, and would dare propose the unconstitutional if only to provide a space for someone they have elevated as a near infallible messiah who they now idolize as having the monopoly over virtue.

They are the ones who would like us to vote not on the basis of a record, but on the basis of a promise. They are the ones who would like us to believe that more is coming from someone that has a lot to explain for doing so much less.

Now, who is guiltier of blind idolatry? You tell me.

The author is a former dean of De La Salle University. He is currently a full professor of political science at De La Salle University. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of this website.

Why I am confused with the Left By HARVEY S. KEHSeptember 25, 2014

“The time for ‘sober discourse’ has long ended…it is about time that people ‘express their anger’ against the administration of President Noynoy Aquino.”

This was part of the statement made by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Manila Chairperson Francisco Mariazeta III during the commemoration of the 42nd Anniversary of Martial Law and also in part to justify what militant students affiliated with BAYAN did to Budget Sec. Butch Abad last week in a forum at the University of the Philippines.

It will be recalled that after the said forum on the Development Acceleration Program, Abad was on his way out when several militant students mobbed him and even threatened to physically harm him.

This very sad incident was immediately condemned by the faculty of the UP School of Economics and the UP School of Economics Student Council.

Who was really bullied?

This statement by BAYAN and the Left is confusing in many ways since just a few weeks ago, one of their party-list representatives, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon, was up in arms because he was apparently “bullied” by Senate President Franklin Drilon during a dinner party.

Drilon reportedly confronted him about all the accusations that Ridon was throwing at him regarding the apparent overpricing of the Iloilo Convention Center. In his statement, Ridon even demanded that Drilon apologize to him for what he did.

If that is considered bullying, then what can we make of the treatment their militant student leaders gave toward Abad? Given that what happened to Abad is even worse than what Ridon accuses Drilon of, will they also ask their student leaders to apologize to Abad?

Justifying the use of force and violence

Also, isn’t it further perplexing that many of those who are now part of BAYAN were also victims of violence during Martial Law? Now, they are suddenly justifying the physical harming of Abad by saying that the time for sober discourse is now over.

* Does this mean that they will now also tolerate and accept it when our Philippine National Police and our military suddenly use force and violence to disperse their rallies and mass actions?

Fortunately for them, our government leaders led by President Aquino have tried their best to exercise maximum tolerance when they conduct their protests in front of Malacañang or Congress.

Left’s political history and compromises add more confusion

Yet these ironic and confusing moves by the Left in our society are not really surprising when you look at their recent political history where they teamed up with then Presidentiable and Senator Manny Villar in the 2010 national and local elections.

This coalition between the Left and Villar’s Nacionalista Party (NP) happened amid all the criticisms they previously made about Villar at the height of the C-5 controversy. That issue eventually led to Villar’s fall from the top of the surveys.

Lest we also forget, it was also during this same election that both of their senatorial candidates who fought against Martial Law, Satur Ocampo and Liza Masa, ran in the same slate with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos who was the main architect of Martial Law.

There is nothing wrong with protesting or rallying to show our government where we stand on certain issues. But when these protests turn into violent acts that no longer respect the rights of individuals, then these become wrong.

I have nothing against the Left, I even agree with them in some issues especially in calling for investigations regarding graft and corruption in our government. In fact, I would be one of the first ones to defend them if, in the middle of a peaceful protest or rally, our law enforcement agencies would suddenly use force or violence to disperse them. I say this because in a civilized and democratic society, there is simply no room to justify acts of violence and physical harm as a means to show where we stand on particular issues.

The sad days of Martial Law, where violence was used to curtail our freedoms, are now behind us. I hope that we don’t go back anymore to those dark times where Marcos and his minions showed that there was no longer room for “sober discourse” in our country.

Harvey S. Keh is the President of the Acts of Hope for the Nation (AHON) Foundation and the Executive Director of the Institute for Governance and Strategic Partnerships (IGSP).

The yaya-raised Hong Kong protest generation By HOWIE G. SEVERINO,GMA NewsOctober 5, 2014 10:24pm 44.4K 254 7 45.2K


Many of the Hong Kong protesters are young women, prepared for teargas and pepper spray attacks.

Last Saturday afternoon along a bustling street in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong, I was apparently looking lost when a smiling young Hong Kong couple approached me.

"Excuse me, is there a way we can help you?" asked the woman who had gleaming white teeth. I said no thank you, I was just waiting for a cab, but had they by any chance just come from one of the city's protest areas?

They had indeed, with both wearing the black shirts that the pro-democracy activists wear to convey their seriousness ("This is not a party, it's a protest," says one big hand-painted sign hanging from an overpass).

In all my years of going to Hong Kong from the time I was a teenager, this visit has been the very first time that anyone has volunteered to help me on the street. It has happened many times in the last several days.

What has astonished me nearly as much as the courage of students challenging the Chinese government is how polite they have been.

For all the attractions that Hong Kong offers to millions of tourists a year, friendliness, politeness, and helpfulness are not among them. But I have seen these virtues in copious amounts among the crowds of young people who are engaged in one of the most quixotic protest movements of our time.

Could this sea change in character also be part of the future that Hong Kong youth are aching to build?

As soon as it starts raining, students who have been sleeping in the streets suddenly show up offering anyone unprotected an umbrella. Helpful volunteers hold you so you can safely climb improvised ladders on the concrete barriers all along the barricaded main street, Connaught Road.

I approached one young protester in a busy alley who was holding a sign offering free translation services to foreign media. Once I indicated my interest, two of her colleagues soon showed up to assist me, both recent graduates of Cambridge law school in the UK who spoke impeccable Queen's English. They accompanied me throughout my first afternoon in Central, translating but also explaining the roots of the crisis.

It could be that these youths are just practicing good PR as part of their strategy for overcoming the brute advantages of government forces. Their thorough preparations, the teach-ins by college professors and student leaders, and even their manual for civil disobedience are now well-known to those who have observed their disciplined, well-organized campaign of non-violent dissent.

But Filipino residents of Hong Kong who have watched the events there unfold also credit how the present generation was raised – many by Filipina yayas.

* "We have a culture of kapwa and tender loving care," says Azon Cañete, a former NGO worker in Hong Kong who now covers the city for GMA News. "It's hard to generalize because there are no studies, but I think OFWs have shown those values to their wards."

"Hindi sila racist, mababait sila sa ibang lahi," says one long-time domestic helper in Hong Kong who, like many others here, didn't want to be named. "Mga Pilipina kasing nagpalaki."

They are a stark contrast to many of their elders, especially the prejudiced market vendors who have been known to shout at and shoo away Filipino maids.

About 150,000 Filipina domestics live with families in Hong Kong; many of these Pinays spend more time with their employers' children than their parents.

Many of these kids have grown up. Quick to smile, well-mannered, and respectful to people darker than they, the generation who are manning the barricades in Central District could very well be channeling the foreign nannies who took care of them, even while applying techniques pioneered by the likes of Martin Luther King.

They are different not just from older Hong Kong generations, but from China itself. Authoritarian and dismissive of both public opinion and the interests of other nations, the Chinese government has been uncompromising in its attitude to Hong Kong's pro-democracy youth.

China's leaders have sent word that this form of disruptive dissent cannot be tolerated any longer, with Hong Kong's police preparing to end the protest by force in the next several days.

Well-raised and deeply committed, these youths have shown that it will be harder to snuff out the spirit that has captured the world's imagination. They have time on their side, and if they persist, the #OccupyCentral generation could still wind up leading Hong Kong, and perhaps changing China itself.

If so, I have seen the future, and I like it.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of this website.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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