The Frog, The Scorpion and The Philippines

Have you heard the story? A scorpion wanted to cross a river but couldn’t because he can’t swim. He found a frog, then asked him to carry the scorpion across the river. Knowing the destructive nature of the scorpion, the frog hesitated. He asked, “how do I know you are not going to sting and kill me while I take you to the other side?” The scorpion is smart and skillful with his words. He said “I would be too grateful to kill you, it wouldn’t be fair at all for me to harm you in anyway. Besides, I will die if I do that”. The frog believed the scorpion, so he carried him on his back trusting that the scorpion will keep his promise. Midway through, the frog felt a stabbing pain on his back. In the corner of his eyes he saw the scorpion pulling his stinger out of his back. “You fool! Why did you do that? Now we’re both going to die!”  The scorpion responded as they started to sink. “i can’t help it, it is in my nature.”

Now, think of the Philippines. Think of the coming elections. Think of the candidates… Make sure you don’t have a scorpion on your back.

Moneyless

Imagine a world

where there is no need to build fences around anything;

where there is no need to set territorial boundaries;

where you don’t need money to avail of anything;

where you don’t need a bigger, prettier house than your neighbor;

where you don’t need 10 cars to show how much more you have than others;

where you do not own anything and yet you own everything;

where people don’t have to die of some easily curable disease because they can’t afford the medicine;

where people don’t have to go hungry while others have so much more than they need

Imagine a world of abundance

Is it possible? It is possible.

Who makes it impossible?

We make it impossible.

We Know

There’s a car full of passengers careering downhill towards what is going to look like a tragic crash. No there’s nothing wrong with the car. The engine is working perfectly well and the brake pad just needs to be stepped on to make the car stop. No, wait. There is something wrong with the car. All the passengers have a set of controls each! Everybody contributes to the speed but only a concerted effort can make the car stop or change direction. They know this but they are not stopping the car nor changing it’s direction. They are arguing.

Some passengers are blaming others for not stepping on the brakes while their own feet are at the accelerators.  Some are frantically stepping on the brakes and begging others to do the same but the ones addicted to speed are having too much fun. They won’t stop the car even if it kills them. And then there are those who think it’s pointless to drive a car with too many control gears, they decided to take a nap.

As some are panicking, blaming, excited by the rush and sleeping, the car accelerates to its impending doom.

Will the car crash? Can the drivers/passengers  make it stop or change direction in time? Only they know.

We know what the car is called and we know this story.

Luto

luto1Luto means cook or in the context of this post “cooked” and again in the context of this post has nothing to do with preparing a meal. Luto is how Filipinos describe a rigged contest, where the judges of a contest connived to make an undeserving party win. The accusations are not always without merits, then again they don’t always have merit. They are often results of disappointment due to a party’s failure to make it to the top despite remarkable efforts and are beaten by a seemingly inferior party.

Having been in the receiving end of such an accusation lead me to look into the nature of this issue. Is crying luto a stage of loss called denial? a way to save face? An absence of trust in the system or the people behind the system? A way to tell the people behind the system, “you are a bunch of cheats and this is one instance to prove that you in deed are.” It’s subjective, one party will say it’s luto, the accused will say it’s not. The people around will probably never hear the end of it. The issue will fade away until the next opportunity to cry luto. There are actually people who believe that Oscar Dela Hoya gave away the fight to Manny Pacquiao. There are actually people who believe that the judges cooked the result of a contest or raffling of  Christmas prizes in their  last Christmas party. A sad thing to have in a season of being good and giving.

It has been so prevalent in this society that a lot of people don’t take it seriously any more. I think however that this issue is serious because it is a subtle sign of a problematic relationship. If there is no cheating and people say that there is, it could mean that there is no trust. If there is in deed cheating, then it could mean that there is no respect. If there is neither trust nor respect, a relationship can’t last. The absence of trust or respect has its roots. Find it and then nip it.

SYMBIOTIC CORRUPTION IN THE PHILIPPINES

If you ever had the experience of taking a public utility vehicle in the Philippines, this is likely familiar to you:

The jeepney or bus driver violates a traffic rule. A traffic enforcer comes out of hiding and accost the driver. The Driver scratches his head and mouths some expletives, saying “I didn’t see the  buwaya  hiding there”. “Buwaya or Crocodile” is how we describe police and traffic enforcers who extort  or take bribes from drivers who violate traffic rules whether for real or imagined. The driver tries to make excuses for the violation, which the traffic enforcer is unlikely to accept. An inconvenienced passenger shouts “bigyan mo na kasi!”(give him money already!) which also means bribe him already. The driver slips in a hundred peso or more depending on the violation and the traffic enforcers lets him go. One passenger blames the driver for the wrong thing, saying “if you gave him money right away, we wouldn’t have experienced the delay” when the correct blame should be, if he didn’t violate the traffic rule, we wouldn’t have experienced that delay.
And then we complain about the corruption in the traffic management system of the country and the government as a whole.

This little situation is a microcosm of a larger system of corruption in the Philippine Society. We are angered by government officials who steal but could not do away with them. A lot of us are afraid to operate in a cleaner system because it means, no bailout from traffic violations, piracy, tax evasion, profiteering and crime against people and properties. It means no way to beat the system through shortcuts, no special favors and no patronage.

This is symbiotic corruption. A corrupt government that feeds on the corruption of the society that cannot exist in the same way without a corrupt government. We need a new kind of symbiosis.

Impoverished Mind

What is worse than being impoverished?
To have an impoverished mind
To be afraid of losing everything when one has so much
To feel no satisfaction in having plenty
To keep an unfair share of the profit
To grab what is not one’s own
To steal from the government
To steal, worse, to steal from the already poor
To pretend to care about the poor while one robs them blind
To feign righteousness by going to church for show while masterminding crime against others
To be involved in civic actions as a front for stealing
To feed one’s family with the product of one’s thievery
To destroy the future in order to indulge in today
To cling to power at all cost including one’s own soul
To find fairness in being unfair
To call evil good
To serve as a pawn of evil
To have so much power and use it for evil
To look the other way because of the benefits of evil and inconvenience and cost of doing good
To be apathetic to all of these
Such are the products of impoverished thinking
We hate it but don’t hate it well enough and that is why impoverished thinking is more the norm rather than the exception in our impoverished society.

“Honorables”

welgaThis is not a metaphor, this is an irony!

In order to be called honorable in the Philippines, You either cheated in the election, lied to your constituents or stole from the people or all of the above. You have to know how to feign dignity to hide guilt when dealing with the people you lied,cheated to and stole from. What makes people aspire for the “honor” of being “honorable”? Power and money, so much of it that spouses and children, believe it’s the right thing to do, thereby breeding future batches of “honorables”.

Here is the funny thing, people know most “honorables” are guilty of lying, cheating and stealing from them and yet they fall in line, push their way and excitedly shake the hands of the people who cheated, lied  to and stole from them. And yes, they vote for them.

Isn’t this the worst irony of them all?