Monday, March 10, 2008
Ignorance, Apathy, Social Justice/Morality, and the Nationalist Revolution (Updated)
"Those who profess to favor freedom
and yet deprecate agitation
are men who want crops without plowing up the ground;
they want rain without thunder and
They want the ocean without the
awful roar of its waters.
This struggle may be a moral one
or it may be a physical one
or it may be both moral and physical
but it must be a struggle.
Power concedes nothing without a
It never did, and never will."- - Frederick Douglass, Abolitionist, Author, Slave (1817-1895)
[from Fr. Pedro V. Salgado, O.P.,The Philippine Economy: History and Analysis, 1985]
WHAT WE FILIPINOS SHOULD KNOW: (Note: Bold and/or underlined words are HTML links. Click on them to see the linked postings/articles. Forwarding the postings to relatives and friends, especially in the homeland, is greatly appreciated. To write or read a comment, please go to the bottom of the post and click on "Comments.").
We are poor and in ever-worsening predicament because the majority of native Filipinos are functionally illiterate and most are ignorant.
Majority of native Filipinos are apathetic about socio-economic problems because they are not informed; and lack of information (ignorance) reinforces apathy.
People can be aroused to action with a well-formulated presentation of the problems that evoke their sympathy. Thus we Filipinos need first to eliminate our illiteracy and ignorance, to educate ourselves so as to gain knowledge of the fundamental causes and remedies for social problems, including the economics, politics, and ethics of the problems and solutions. Then when we educate others, we must at the same time invoke their antipathy to the problems and arouse their sympathy with the remedies.
When the impoverished majority, that is the "masa," are roused with sympathy and armed with knowledge of the remedy, the greedy in government, business and military who benefits from ignorance will either be swayed themselves to join the righteous battle, or be overwhelmed by the greater force of the righteous revolution.
It is and will not be an easy task. There are internal and external forces constantly at work to keep the majority ignorant. The internal forces (native Filipinos with economic and political powers) and external forces (foreign businessmen and TNCs). They all remind us of the Spaniards who kept us (indios) uneducated, or the white Americans who kept the Negroes/Blacks illiterate for slavery.
In a previous post, I wrote about the subtle changes that neocolonialism/neoimperialism imposes on our private and state universities (our foreign loans are predicated on following its conditions):
".....As to the present goals of the educational system: during the Dictatorship, Marcos followed the dictates and plans of the International Monetary Fund/World Bank/Asian Development Bank (IMF/WB/ADB) as to the direction of our Public School System (PSS) and educational system as a whole; that is, to provide cheap and trained labor to multinational/transnational companies."
This was confirmed to me by a Spanish friend whom I visited last December in Madrid; he mentioned about Marcos inviting and speaking to them about such a direction for Philippine schools (my friend was a former priest and principal at a Catholic school).
Stressing only technical vocations, though practical since they put food on the table, will only lead to the "dumbing" of the new generations of Filipino minds, to keep the majority ignorant; unable to comprehend the root causes of their predicament (note that nowadays, the American mind has closed and its youth is getting dumb) which in turn will lead to perpetuation of the injustices in the socio-economic and political status-quo.
Thus, the primary imperative is to educate the "masa," in terms of understanding "what's going on;" thereafter we can change what has been keeping us down; preferably peacefully; if not, by radical means, i.e. a revolution that is neither communist nor anticommunist, but a nationalist revolution.
Below article is a brief by our famous writer F. Sionil Jose on the "who, why, what" of a real revolution, necessarily nationalistic, for the common good.
(see also: http://thefilipinomind.blogspot.com/2006/01/education-deterioration-of-public.html
“Nations, whose NATIONALISM is destroyed, are subject to ruin.” - Colonel Muhammar Qaddafi, 1942-, Libyan Political and Military Leader
“The true Filipino is a decolonized Filipino.” – Renato Constantino
"Upang maitindig natin ang bantayog ng ating lipunan, kailangang radikal nating baguhin hindi lamang ang ating mga institusyon kundi maging ang ating pag-iisip at pamumuhay. Kailangan ang rebolusyon, hindi lamang sa panlabas, kundi lalo na sa panloob!" --Apolinario Mabini, La Revolucion Filipina (1898)
Revolution and the University of the Philippines
by F. Sionil Jose
What is an old man like myself doing here, talking about revolution? Hindsight is the lowest form of wisdom. I can tell you what it was like when your campus was nothing but cogon waste, when all those trees that line your streets were just saplings.
I can tell you, also, why we were left behind by all our neighbors when in the fifties and the sixties we were the richest, most progressive country in the region, when Seoul, Tokyo, were ravaged by war and Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta were mere kampongs, when Bangkok was a sleepy town criss-crossed by canals.
I never was in China till 1979, but I know in the forties that country was always threatened by famine. It had a population then of only half a billion. Now, with more than a billion people, famine is no longer a threat, although hunger still lurks in some of its distant regions.
Hunger has always been with some of us, too, but not as much as it is now when so many poor Filipinos eat only once a day. Altanghap, I wonder how many of you know what that word means.
So then, why are we poor? Why do our women flee to foreign cities to work as housemaids, as prostitutes?
We are poor because we have lost our ethical moorings, this in spite of those massive religious rallies of EI Shaddai, those neo-gothic churches of the Iglesia ni Kristo sprouting all over the country, in spite of the nearly 400 years of Catholic evangelization.
How can we build an ethical society? We must remember that so-called values are neutral--that so much depends on how people use them. James Fallows' thesis on our "damaged culture" which many of us understand is neither permanent nor inherent.
Ramon Magsaysay infused public life in the fifties with discipline and morality, Arsenio Lacson as mayor of Manila cleaned up City Hall. Even today, shining examples of honesty among our public officials exist, but they are few and far between and they are not institutionalized.
And it is precisely here where the university comes in with its courses in the humanities. Of all the arts, only literature teaches us ethics. Literature presents us with problems, complex equations that deal with the human spirit and how often the choice between right and wrong is made. In this process, we are compelled to use our conscience, to validate the choice we make, and render the meaning, the pith of our existence.
The university then is the real cathedral of a nation, and its humanities particularly its literature department, the altar. But how many of our teachers know this crucial function of literature, how many teachers themselves possess this sense of worth, and mission?
To know ourselves, to make good and proper use of our consciences, we must know our own history. So few of us do, in fact, we nurture no sense of the past. If our teachers know our history, if they soak it in their bones, then it follows that they also impart this very same marrow to their students.
If this is so, how come that when Bongbong Marcos visited UP Diliman some time ago, he was mobbed by students who wanted his autograph? How come that in La Salle, business students cited Marcos as the best President this country ever had?
Not too long ago, I spoke before freshmen at the Ateneo and was told that since so many practice bribery, it must be right, or how could anyone get things done if palms are not greased? In this university are professors who served Marcos. Have they ever been asked what their role was?
We are poor because we are not moral. Can this immorality as evidenced by widespread corruption be quantified? Yes, about 23 billion pesos a year is lost according to NGO estimates.
We are poor because we have no sense of history, and therefore, no sense of nation. The nationalism that was preached to my generation by Claro M. Recto and Lorenzo Tañada was phony; how they could have convinced so many intellectuals is in itself the failure of those intellectuals to analyze that inward, socially meaningless nationalism.
Recto and Tañada opposed agrarian reform, the single most important political act that could have lifted this country then from poverty and released the peasantry from its centuries-old bondage.
We are poor because our elites from way back had no sense of nation--they collaborated with whoever ruled--the Spaniards, the Japanese, the Americans and in recent times, Marcos. Our elites imbibed the values of the colonizer.
And worst of all, these wealthy Filipinos did not modernize this country--they sent abroad their wealth distilled from the blood and sweat of our poor. The rich Chinese to China, to Taiwan, to Hong Kong, the rich mestizos to Europe, and the rich Indios like Marcos to Switzerland and the United States--moneys that could have developed this nation.
How do we end this shameless domestic colonialism? The ballot failed; the bullet then? How else but through the cleansing power of revolution. Make no mistake about it--revolution means the transfer of power from the decadent upper classes to the lower classes. Revolution is class war whose objective is justice and freedom.
Who will form the vanguard of change? Who else but the very people who will benefit from it. Listen, when I was researching for my novel POON at the New York Public Library, I came across photographs of our soldiers of the 1896 revolution felled in their trenches by American guns. I looked closely and found that most of them were barefoot. They were peasants.
The peasant is the truest nationalist. He works the land with his hands, he knows instinctively what the term Motherland means. He loves this earth, even worships it. The Ilocano farmer calls it Apo Daga.
But never romanticize the poor. Once, a group of Ph.D.s lamented the futility of their efforts in organizing and motivating them. When the elections came that year, the poor sold their votes, or voted for Erap.
Understand why they are often lazy, contemptible, fawning, cheating and stealing. Imagine yourself not having a centavo in your pocket now, and you don't know if you will eat tonight. There is nothing honorable about poverty--it is totally dehumanizing and degrading. But once the very poor are roused from their stupor, they become the bravest, the most steadfast. Remember those Watawat ng Lahi followers felled by Constabulary guns on Taft Avenue in 1965? They believed that with their faith they were invincible.
It is with such faith and righteousness that our peasants rebelled in living memory, the Colorums in 1931, the Sakdals in 1935, and the Huks in 1949-53.The Moro rebellion, the New People's Army--the cadres of both are from our very poor, just like it was in 1896. And now, here is the most tragic contradiction in our country.
Our Armed Forces--its officers corps--many come from the lower classes, too; they got to their exalted positions through public examinations and entry to the Philippine Military Academy. Our Armed Forces enlisted men--most of them come from the very poor. When the poor kill the poor, who profits?
The Ideology of the Revolution
Revolution starts in the mind and heart. It alters attitudes to enable us to think beyond ourselves, family and ethnicity to encompass the whole nation. If the communists win and I don't think they ever will, they will rule just as badly because they are Filipinos unable to go beyond barnacled habits of mind, hostage as they always are to friends and family and to towering egos. The same egos aborted the revolution in 1896, the EDSA revolution in 1986, and now, we see the same egos wrecking havoc on the Communist Party. We see these egos eroding our already rotten political system.
The core belief that should guide us in redeeming our unhappy country is in our history, in our peasantry. It is not in textbooks, in foreign intellectual idols, in Marx. And what is this ideology which Bonifacio believed in? Which those barefoot soldiers killed by the Americans believed in? Pedro Calosa, the peasant leader who led the Colorum uprising in Tayug, Pangasinan in 1931 said it is this: "God resides in every man. God created earth, water and air for all men. It is against God's laws for one family or one group to own them."
God and country; translate this belief into your own words and there you have it in its simplest terms the creed with which the unfulfilled revolution of 1896 was based, and which should be the same creed that should forge unity among us.
Who will lead the revolution?
Certainly, not the masa, but one from the masa who understands them, who will not betray them, the way our leaders betrayed the masa. Estrada is the most shameful example of that leadership that betrayed.The leaders of the revolution could be in this university, who have the education, but who are not shackled by alien concepts, or the attitudes of superiority that destroy leadership. Such leaders, like Ho Chi Minh, must lead by sterling example, with integrity, courage, compassion and willingness to sacrifice, who know that when the revolution is won, it is time to change from conspirators to even better administrators, remembering that they have become conservative, that they must now work even harder to produce better and cheaper products.
And this massive work of modernization can be achieved in one generation. The Koreans, Taiwanese and the Japanese did it. It is not the Confucian ethic that enabled them to do this, they understood simply the logic of government which is service and that of commerce which is profit.
By what right do I have to urge revolution upon our people who will suffer it? What right do I have to urge the young to sacrifice, the poor to get even poorer, if they embrace the revolutionary creed? I have no such right, nor will I call it such. I call it duty, duty, duty. Duty for all of us rooted in our soil, who believe that our destiny is freedom.
Not everyone can bear arms, or have the physical strength to stand up, to shout loudly about the injustices that prevail around us. Those who cannot do these, who cannot be part of this radical movement, must not help those who enslave us. Do not give them legitimacy as so many gave legitimacy to Marcos. Recognize, identify our enemies and oppose them with all your means. This will then test integrity, commitment.
Nobody need tell us the exorbitant cost of revolution, the lives that will be lost, senselessly even as when Pol Pot massacred thousands of his own countrymen in Cambodia. We who lived through the Japanese Occupation know what hunger, fear, and flight mean.
Joseph Conrad, Albert Camus and Jose Rizal--writers I admire deeply, all warned against revolution because it breeds tyrants, because it does not always bring change. But look around us, at the thousands of Filipinos who are debased and hungry, who are denied justice. Be shamed if you don't act.
And as Salud Algabre, the Sakdal general said in 1935-- "No rebellion fails. Each is a step in the right direction." Revolution need not even have to be bloody. How many lives were lost at EDSA I? Not even 20. So Cory goes around telling the world that she had restored democracy in the Philippines.
Sure enough, we now have free elections, free speech, free assembly but these are the empty shells of democratic institutions because the real essence of democracy does not exist here. And that real essence is in the stomach--as when the taxi driver in Tokyo eats the same sashimi as the Japanese emperor, or the bus driver in Washington who can eat the same steak as President Bush in the White House. Contrast these with that jobless Cavite laborer whose two children died because he fed them with garbage.
No, Cory Aquino's EDSA revolution could not even have our garbage properly collected. Worse, nineteen farmer demonstrators were killed near Malacanan because she refused to see them. True to her oligarchic class, she declared a revolutionary government without doing anything revolutionary; instead, she turned EDSA I into a restoration of the old oligarchy. So today, we are reaping the results of her negligence, ignorance and folly.
Yet, even capitalism can be very helpful. South Korea is a very good example of how capital was formed by corruption, and how a single-minded general lifted that nation from the ashes of the Korean War, into the thriving modem economy which Korea is today.
Remember the slogans of American capitalism--a chicken in every pot, a Ford in every garage. Money is like fertilizer--to do any good it must be spread around. Those robber barons at the turn of the 19th century were rapacious, they exploited their workers, but they built industries, railroads, banks, the sinews of American capitalism.
And the most important thing--they kept their money home to develop America. Unlike our rich Chinese, our rich mestizos and the likes of Marcos who sent their money abroad to keep us poor. They are the enemy.
It has been said again and again that we are, indeed, a young nation compared with other Asian countries whose august civilizations date back to two thousand years or more. Indeed, so are the Filipinos who shaped this nation--those who led the revolution against Spain--they were all young, like you are, in their twenties or early thirties. Rizal was 34 when he was martyred.
How then do we keep young without having to grow old only to see the fire in our minds and hearts die? How does the nation's leading university maintain its vitality, its youth against the ravages of consumerism, of globalism?
How else but to keep the mind ever healthy, ever alive by empowering it with those ideas that nurture change and revolution itself, by ingesting the technological age so that we can use technology for realizing our ideals. How else but to embrace the ideas that make us doubt technology, society, even revolution itself, but never, never about who we are, what we should do and hope to be.
We cannot be beholden to any other nation. Jose Maria Sison doomed his revolution when he turned to China for assistance; he ignored the "objective reality"--the latent anti-Chinese feeling among Filipinos, in fact among all Southeast Asians who fear a Chinese hegemony. We must mould our own destiny, infusing it with the strength of a sovereign people. The Americans, the English, French, Russians, Cubans, Chinese, Vietnamese--all achieved their unique revolutions. We must have our very own, defined only by us.
How to build it, direct it, use it for the betterment of our lives, the flowering of liberty--I see all these as the major function of the university which, after all, shapes our leaders. I pray that UP will graduate the best doctors, the best engineers, the best teachers, the best bureaucrats. The revolution needs them all. But most of all, let this university of the people produce the ultimate modernizer, the heroic nationalist revolutionary--we need him most of all.
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." . – Frederick Douglass, American Abolitionist, Lecturer, Author and Slave, 1817-1895)
Neocolonialism - The dominance of strong nations over weak nations, not by direct political control (as in traditional colonialism), but by economic and cultural influence.
"The selfish spirit of commerce knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain" - Thomas Jefferson, 1809
posted by Bert M. Drona @ 11:28 PM 9 comments links to this post
At 12:56 AM, Anonymous said...
I agree that the masses should be educated. Churches and schools are agencies that can help but the leaders of these organizations are also ignorant. Listen to their sermons - they do not teach people to look at facts, to think and how to make dicisions in terms of the general good of the community and the country.- DrPaz
At 1:01 AM, Bert M. Drona said...
Thanks for your response. Yes, when one steps back and think, educating the masses is crucial. Else, no fundamental changes can happen. The "masa" will be simple pawns and duped as in the past,present,in the near future. You also are mainly correct in inferring that the is ignorant. The church is essentially part of the establishment; as a former seminarian and catholic, I am to put it very mildly, disappointed with it.
At 1:04 AM, Anonymous said...
Hi Bert!We are poor because this People's Power government believed in the lie propounded by the free trade economist that all poor nations will be eliminated if only all economies practice free trade. This is a blatant lie propounded by professional economist who is more interested in propaganda rather than truth.When NAFTA was implemented in Mexico, the average growth rate of Mexico fell from 5.9 per cent to 3.9 per cent, and yet free trade economist refuse to recognize these facts and keep on insisting that poverty will be eliminated in the planet if free trade is practised everywhere -- inspite of all the evidence to the contrary.Because our People's Power government economic planners believed in this obvious lies of the free trade economist, the People's Power government has failed to take off our country inspite of their promise that they will do better than President Marcos if allowed to run the country. Because of the institution of free trade in the country, our average growth rate has fell to one half that was achieved by Marcos and all his predecessors.Inspite of these facts, the Liberal Party in its official website has called for the continuation of free trade in the country and made free trade as the principal economic platform of that party.Free trade was the principal economic policy of the American colonial administration. When the United States acquired Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, the Americans instituted a policy of free trade on all its newly acquired economies. Because free trade was keeping the Philippines as an agricultural economy, nationalist like Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmena demanded independence from the United States. It was the election of Manuel L. Quezon as President of our Commonwealth that finally put an end to the policy of free trade imposed by the Americans on the Philippine economy.One of the principal reasons why the Nationalista Party was able to easily obtain the passage of the Tydings-Mcduffie Law which granted independence to the Philippines was because the American labor backed the independence move of the Philippine government. The American labor unions is opposed to any free trade in the United States between its colonies or any other independent nation.When the commonwealth administration of Pres. Quezon put an end to the colonial policy of free trade of the Americans, we saw the emergence of Philippine industrialization. However, because of the devastation in the Philippines caused by World War II, the Americans again imposed free trade as a condition for the American assistance in the reconstruction of the Philippines. This free trade was embodied in the Bell Treaty.This Bell Treaty again did not improve the Philippine economy but only fanned the hatred of Philippine political leaders against the Americans. The Bell Treaty was denounced by leading luminaries in both the Liberal and Nationalista Parties.Inspite of all these facts, the Liberal Party and the People's Power government believed all the lies that was propounded by the free trade economists. Neither did the lessons of Philippine history nor the warnings of economists who saw through the lies of the free trade economists could convince the economists of the People's Power government that free trade will stultify the economic development of our country. They kept insisting on believing the lies of the free trade economists that free trade is the solution of the poverty of the planet -- inspite of all the evidence to the contrary.Very truly yours,RAMON A. DEL GALLEGO
At 1:24 AM, Bert M. Drona said...
Ramon,I agree with you. Absolute free trade, which the WTO/economic globalization is all about, is disastrous for our poor country. Free trade is great only for the rich nations. WTO rules are made by the rich nations to be followed by the poor nations; and in reality, not necessarily by the former.Free trade/WTO is one of the fundamental aspects in our political economy that needs to be dismantled. The mixed economy that we had before martial law was workable and could be improved on. But essential too is a change in our way of thinking and behaving, a need for a "cultural revolution;" especially towards nationalism within our homeland, our territorial boundaries. It is only when we have attained national unity can we be able to stand on our own and be able to deal other nations with confidence and strength; and be treated fairly and with respect. Without nationalism, we will be where we are now and going nowhere up but continually spiralling down, i.e. increasing impoverishment for the expanding majority (declining native middle class). That is why the ruling elite, i.e. the native and local politicians/technocrats/businessmen/military and their foreign partners and TNCs want to keep the "masa" ignorant. Knowledge is power. To maintain slaves and slavery, our majority have to be kept ignorant of what's really going on.
At 6:49 AM, Anonymous said...
"The mixed economy that we had before martial law was workable and could be improved on. But essential too is a change in our way of thinking and behaving, a need for a "cultural revolution;" especially towards nationalism within our homeland, our territorial boundaries."This is precisely the reason why I am encouraging you to keep on writing your ideas. Nobody will help the Philippines except Filipinos. We cannot rely on the Americans, the Japanese or any other foriegners to help us. We Filipinos have to learn to help ourselves because no foreigner will do that for us. We will obtain happiness or misery because we Filipinos have collectively chosen happiness or misery as our goal.In the ultimate analysis, only Filipinos are to be blamed for anything that is happening in our country because we have allowed it in the first place.- Ramon
At 6:57 AM, Anonymous said...
Because I failed to see in your blog little bio on Luis Taruc, I am forwarding what I wrote on the day I learned about his death.A REQUIEM TO SUPREMO KA LUIS TARUCThe peasant farmer depends on the fruit of his labor to the land he toils to support a family. But even when fertile fields become fertile grounds for discontent, there is incongruity between the basic needs he yearns and the impossible demands from the landlord. Pity the poor abused sharecroppers for they shall inherit bloody agrarian revolution.One man understood the plight of hapless farmers. He witnessed the abuses of absent landlords and incensed on the inept and often biased government army soldiers who were supposed to protect them. He saw the birth and demise of the Sakdalista movement and its peasant origin. He also witnessed the litany of abuses temporarily halted during the Japanese occupation but not the occupiers’ brutal treatment to the citizens deserted by MacArthur. That man’s vision started an effective answer to oppressive regimes of what we now know and what it spawned other violent groups by their acronyms, HUKBALAHAP, primarly against ther Japanese, HUK (urban and rural guerillas during Roxas, Quirino and Magsaysay) and HMB Hukbong Magpalaya ng Bayan of the Garcia and early Marcos administration. Now NPA is getting its share in the struggle.Like Andres Bonifacio of the 1896 revolution, this man can also speak the language of the masses. He even adopted the title Supremo. If I remember correctly, while the first supremo has the equivalent of second grade elementary education, this other supremo attended two years at the University of the Philippines. Call him Bonifacio re-incarnate!
Labels: Andres Bonifacio , catholic church , evangelicals , F.Sionil Jose , filipino values , Jose Ma. Sison , NPA , Pedro Calosa , Philippine poverty , religious fundamentalism , Sakdal uprising , Salud Algabre
FILIPINO NATIONALISM -is the bottom line;sine-qua-non for the common good of the native (Malay/indio)Filipino majority. Nationalism must precede any plan/action in dealing with globalization. EDUCATION- being educated is beyond just being schooled towards a profession or practical vocation; we need the Humanities/liberal arts to develop/apply CRITICAL ANALYSIS/THINKING to understand,identify,plan,act & safeguard the needed fundamental/systemic changes towards economic/political progress, social justice and social transformation. GOVERNMENT - its raison d'etre is to lead/serve the native majority, foster nationalism via its institutions, ensure the masses are critically literate to have real democracy. FREEDOM & DISSENT - free thought is necessarily aggressive and critical; we protect freedom to discover truth; we encourage dissent not for sentimental reasons, but because we cannot live without it. PATRIOTISM is NOT: "My country, right or wrong;" but "if right, to be kept right; if wrong, to be set right!"