Saturday, September 14, 2013

THE FILIPINO ELITE: Practices and Priorities in our Homeland. What Should/Can We Native Filipinos Do, Should We Want To?

"As to the source of leadership, we native (Malay/Indio) Filipinos still look up and limit ourselves to the same socio-economic-political elite, the same prominent dynasties, and personalities many of whom were of the collaborationist and mendicant variety...There is potentially good leadership, maybe still unknown, OUTSIDE the selfish, morally bankrupt, and oftentimes subservient elite. When we have done away with our massive ignorance, we native Filipinos can surely find and actively ensure that only individuals -with courage and strong nationalism- earn respect; thus who will successfully propel the people to fight, and finally win for the common good” – Bert M. Drona 

Consequently, the Filipino of the city and town, the native Filipino, in other words, who is a captive of Eurasian values, cringes at being referred to as a Malay. Far better it is to be called a Brother American.



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    From the time of our Katipunan revolutionaries fought and died against the Spanish rule, and against American interference and colonization then, our society has been administered by a "cacique, " the socio-economic elite in cahoots with foreigners against their fellow native Filipino majority, kept them poor, illiterate, and thus ignorant.
    A socioeconomic and political system designed to perpetuate a class-defined society, a class-conscious country, divided and never really becoming a nation.
    We are schooled heavily about political democracy but do not know that economic democracy is a prerequisite to fully realizing it. We have been conditioned to believe that mere and regular election makes a democracy; an illusion in reality.
    We native Filipinos keep ourselves ignorant of history, of “what’s really going on” in our homeland then and now; and thus, by default, never learn.
    We continue to be lost -having failed or refused to look in the mirror- believing in fate rather than about us people causing the cliche “history keeps repeating itself” true and valid.
    That is why it's Deja vu every time.
    - BMD🤔

    Hi All,

    The term "elite" originally referred, in early modern Europe, to the best quality merchandise, and later applied to people, such as the members of the nobility (the dominant or governing class). Fast forward today, the term generally include that group of people who occupy the higher positions in societal structures/institutions, i.e. politics, economy, government, military, religion, professions, etc. In this conversation/post, we allude to our society's governing and non-governing elites which we can essentially lump together as our Filipino "socioeconomic and political elites."

    In our national history (without going far back to the primitive, pre-Spanish times of "datus" or chieftains), with the Aguinaldo-approved assassination of non-elite Andres Bonifacio, the leader of the 1896 "revolt of the masses" against the Spanish colonists;  the local, municipal elites (Emilio Aguinaldo, his relatives, and friends, etc.) making up the Magdalo faction took over. 

    During the proclamation of our Philippine Independence/First Republic (Malolos, Bulacan 1898), the governing elite was already and heavily composed of the "ilustrados," that is, members of the previously non-governing elite, those few at the top of the non-political, economic and professional endeavors in the homeland.

    Apolinario Mabini though considered an "ilustrado" due to his profession and intellectual brilliance, did not really belong as he came from a poor family, was physically an invalid, lived simply and had uncompromising nationalism. He was greatly disliked by these ilustrado group and with the latter's increasing influence on relatively uneducated Aguinaldo was sooner engineered/pressured to resign from his Prime Minister position and replaced by his main opponent.

    Therefore, we can exclude from these guys General Antonio Luna, though not from the peasantry, and Apolinario Mabini; both of whom were the most dedicated to the Revolution as a mass movement.  However, after the assassination -- by Filipino presidential guards-- of General Luna who considered as traitors a faction of ilustrados led by now Prime Minister Pedro Paterno (after replacing Mabini) and Felipe Buencamino for wanting to make peace with and for alluding to political autonomy under the deceitful, invading U.S. Army. Among the ilustrados hereon, only Mabini remained absolutely dedicated to the Revolution and to the continued revolutionary struggle for independence, this time against the Americans. 

    Mabini was essentially the "poster boy" of how a consistently dedicated and honest pro-masa leader is treated (or will be) by members of the socioeconomic elite such as the "caciques," oligarchs, the well-to-do westernized/European-minded as most were for anyone in power:  be they the Spaniards --at best pleading for some political participation in the Spanish Cortes or the Americans --by wanting to make a deal when they saw the imminent defeat of the Revolution and henceforth distancing themselves from and badmouthing the mass movement as populated by ignorant and violent natives, as confessed by ilustrado Felipe Calderon to the Schurman Commission (1899) after his escape to the American side. 

    Because of these historical precedents among our so-called leadership, if we know our true national history, we should recognize and not be completely surprised by the traitorous pattern exhibited by our ruling(governing) elite then and now which essentially --to remind ourselves again-- is a merger/identical to/populated by members of the ruling (socioeconomic) class. 

    Our ruling elite is heavily populated and thus controlled by members of the wealthy socioeconomic class which has demonstrated time and again its conscious disdain/neglect of the native majority. Therefore, the result is that we native Filipinos live in the "continuing past," to borrow the words of the late professor/nationalist Renato Constantino.

    Given this kind of governing that we native Filipinos have been and are continually put through, our homeland and us native Filipinos have not developed since -more than a century hence.  This absence of national development, in contrast to or despite the hopes of Rizal; the revolutionary efforts and sacrifices of our revolutionary heroes Bonifacio, Mabini, Ricarte, Macario Sakay, etc. and those thousands of unnamed, disappeared, forgotten, "salvaged" or murdered political activists during the Marcos dictatorship and under all his subsequent Malacanang successors (Cora Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Benigno Aquino III and today (October 2018) Rodrigo Duterte) -with no exception.

    Let us define/understand here the term "development" primarily as improvement in human well-being, not just nice/modern roads and buildings, beautiful golf courses and resorts, etc. which are not accessible to all; but most important, do not help the daily existence of generations of the desperately impoverished native majority.
    Development today essentially means fulfilling the aspirations of most people for higher standards of living, healthier and longer lives; education for themselves and their children that allow/leave them more in control of their lives.
    Without the above characteristics of real (national) development and progress, all the piecemeal, random and simplified economic et al statistics presented to the native Filipinos are formulated to fool them, then and now; and the next generations.}

    The continuing past of mass generational poverty with its dire consequences to the native Filipino majority is perpetuated by this historically recurring merger of the ruling class and ruling elite. Overall, generations of underdevelopment and even regression in recent decades have been our national predicament.

    Concomitantly, since the Marcos Dictatorship onward, further deterioration in the quality of our Filipino kind of politics came with the:

    • the influx of a new breed of incompetents who glibly talked, fooled, or bought the votes to join the ranks of the ruling elite, thanks to their manipulation of the illiterate and impoverished native Filipino majority;
    • the influx of a new breed of competents but emulating the existent ruling elite, and
    • the ostrich-like "head-in-the-sand" mentality, attitude, and behavior of our so-called educated --the dwindling native Filipino middle class which seems to be characterized by "I am OK, I do not care if you are not OK" and probably planning, linking, and wishing to join the ranks of the ruling elite. 

    All these realities are compounded by the ruling elite's anti-nationalistic/traitorous dealings with their alien supporters (residents or companies) who in turn serve their own personal/economic interests or trade arrangements. Not even mentioning similar behavior in their negotiations of foreign policies, foreign trade agreements, military agreements, ad nauseam.

     We native Filipinos for several reasons do not know, do not understand "what's going on" and are kept continually ignorant --in the dark like mushrooms-- by the ruling elite plus their native and foreign allies. So we native Filipinos can not see the forest from the trees:
    • getting lost in the daily and repeated cases of corruption in government and private business,
    • of not recognizing the real roots of such, 
    • of continually wondering why a change in governing faces does not result in real changes for national development. 

    The only real choices for the native Filipino majority after all these years since 1896 are 
    1. the violent overthrow of the ruling elite as the latter has employed our native Filipino military (led by mostly foreign-trained officers) to prevent such; and 
    2. eradication of the illiteracy -inability to critically think- of the native majority. 
    I think we need both if only to ensure and to keep vigilant that any future revolutionary leadership is truly nationalistic and will be working for real development as stated above. 

    As both choices require a leadership characterized by a deep awareness of our native history and society/culture; our society --through our home, church, and school, etc.--  which embed in the subconscious Filipino mind within each of our cultures, our native society's worldviewthe source of our values, attitudes, and behaviors- which has been formed by a complex mix of geography, still primitive/traditional economic relations, religion, and long, divisive colonial history, etc. -- all together with the good and the bad. 

    The latter seems stronger and produces selfish individualism  (with a radius of identification and trust limited to the extended family --good for survival but an obstacle to development). A selfish individualism which leads to lack of loyalty to the larger community, (society or country as a whole), which in turn contributes greatly to corruption and nepotism.

    Let us remind ourselves native Filipinos that this selfish tendency exists in all of us as humans, but we seem to rationalize our selfishness as being "family-oriented;" and not appreciating that carried to the extreme its impact is to be anti-community, anti-society; thus no nationalism, no national unity, no real nationhood. That's where we are since the American brutal intervention/occupation/colonization and resultant downfall of the Revolution.

    Let us also remember that Mabini, whose study of scholastic philosophy has been secularized by the Enlightenment via Masonry, himself envisioned the revolutionary struggle not only as a movement to free us from foreign masters (Spain, then the United States) but also as an opportunity for moral regeneration to expurgate vices he believed we had inherited from Spaniards; thus he wrote of an external revolution and an internal revolution or "social regeneration," as expressed in his True Decalogue.

    We nowadays can call it insatiable greed for wealth and political power (mutually reinforcing); the drive behind the propensity of politicians to form "familial political dynasties" and others to wish and work for. All these, mind you, with our boastful claim of being the only Christian country in Asia. What's the big deal in this boast?  Makes us wonder why Christianity failed us so far or that we failed to live as authentic Christians despite our displayed religiosity. Tell me.

    From what we have seen in our Asian neighbors and elsewhere who started behind and now have left our country and us native Filipinos "in the dust," developmentally speaking, this eradication of illiteracy can be realized within a generation, IF the will to do so existed

    Witness the eradication by our neighbors who have brought cultural changes, in fact, even a cultural revolution as during the early 1970s China, by Mao Tse Tung who encouraged the questioning of the non-progressive aspects of Confucian teachings, i.e. feudalism, elitism, male chauvinism, etc.; By how Mustafa Ataturk modernized Turkey from the 1920s through programs of cultural reforms, compulsory education, lower taxes to the peasantry, etc.

    But again, (regarding the IF) since in our case the ruling elite do not identify with the impoverished native majority and they go on their own merry ways, what do you think we native Filipinos should do? Furthermore,  we native Filipinos can not and should not expect and believe foreigners to come and help us despite their declared good intentions, as Pilosopong Tasio warned us. Our national history bears witness repeatedly.

    Our own national history of being colonized by Spain via its sword and the Bible, then by the United States, via its overpowering military, deceitfully proclaimed "benevolent assimilation,"  and granting of political independence under conditions of continued economic and military bondage have shown the folly of ignoring Pilosopong Tasio. I am not forgetting the brief Japanese occupation which was not successful in winning the trust of the native Filipinos despite their slogan of "Asia for Asians, Co-prosperity, etc." as they showed their true color with their brutal and racist manifestations early on.

    Though seemingly late in history, it is imperative for us native Filipinos to wake up, to learn and understand, and to act/finish the "unfinished revolution" Bonifacio, Mabini, Luna, Sakay, Recto, and many others fought and/or died for: our political AND economic independence: the only foundation for our real development. 

    Below is a dated but still relevant essay by Soliongco about our Filipino elite. However, as footnoted by the late Professor and nationalist Renato Constantino: "Soliongco did not live to see the abolition of the Philippine sugar quota nor the structural changes that occurred in the industry especially after the collapse of sugar prices in 1973-74. However, his assessment of the behavior and outlook of the sugar barons can very well apply to a new oligarchy which emerged after martial law."

    - Bert

    "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
    American Abolitionist, Lecturer, Author and Slave, 1817-1895)


    Written by Indalecio P. Soliongco, Editorial Writer/columnist, Manila Chronicle 

    The question of the Filipino elite, a question which is often discussed in deprecating terms, is again the subject of debate in those circles where the basic wants have been assured and where leisure and refinements have become a part of life.

    This group has its representatives in the higher councils, and, more likely than not, it holds in its hands the money with which to garner political power and the means with which to influence and control public opinion.  Its members are the staunchest defenders of the status quo and invariably they are the first to be appalled by the slightest movement aimed at a more equitable distribution of wealth and of the proceeds of industry.

    This is the elite of the country that it can do very well without. There was a time, to be sure when those who constituted it were the vanguard in a peaceful campaign to make the Spaniards less relentless and to allow the ilustrados a measure of freedom and dignity. This was the time of the highest effectiveness of these people, and perhaps it was their singular good luck that some of them were spared the agony of proving their manhood and integrity during the war with the Americans.

    Those of them who lived through the war revealed the stuff they were made of by the safe and profitable way of collaborating with the invaders. Many, as a matter of fact, displayed a bravery of a sort by crossing the lines even when the battles were raging to offer fealty to the new masters. 

    In a way, we see in the career of these Filipinos the natural consequence of our interrupted revolution. And in their fecklessness, we see the logical result of a Propaganda Movement which failed to enlarge itself into a unified Philippine Revolution.  

    The descendants of these ilustrados now rule the roost, and almost without exception, they occupy the seats reserved for management. The happy exception -the thinking exception - is that which is composed of the members of the ruling managerial class.

    But even these, by the very nature of their jobs, are influenced by the social and economic predilections of the upper class. it is for this reason that the obvious elite that we have in our midst deserves the obloquy that is being heaped on them.

    But this is not the same as saying that we should not have an elite. On the contrary, our stage of underdevelopment, the inadequacy of our resources for the creation of a large thinking population, and our pressing need for disciplined knowledge compel us to look up to an elite for guidance. 

    Moreover, the increasing complexity of our problems leaves us no other course but to entrust the making of even major decisions in young men and women who have the mind and training to do so.

    What is clear here is that members of a justifiable elite in a democracy such as ours is supposed to be must derive their right to be so, not from the vastness of their wealth but from their inner worth.

    And yet, even this elite will ultimately prove a hindrance to progress in the future when the egalitarian forces begin to work and when the term intellectual can rightly be applied not to a handful but to a multitude. (6-15-1967)

    The Sugar Barons

    The old refrain that is always sung to drown out warnings that the present administration's all but complete dependence on the United States for guidance and material support is that the Philippines can turn to no other source. it is for this reason that the professed Gunga Dins are raising their voices in protest against the reaction of Filipinos to the gratuitous observations of Ambassador Blair.

    In a sense, it will not be easy to appeal to those who believe in this argument to use their heads and look around them for examples of other nations who have not been conditioned into thinking that the United States is the only source of economic and political salvation. For the truth is that there are nations which can afford it and which are more than willing to come and help in the development of the Philippines.

    The only difference between these nations -Japan, West Germany  and to some extent, Britain and France are the ready examples which come to mind -- and the United States is that their propaganda has not been set at so high a key as the propaganda from Washington. To express it in another way, the Filipinos have become the victims of an exclusivistic economic and political indoctrination. They are, therefore, incapable of what is known as political agnosticism.

    That this is a failing may be seen in the way we solve our problems. That way is geared, more to the strategic requirements of the United States, particularly of the United States bent on developing into an imperialist power in Asia, with her enclave in the Philippines, than to the requirements of the country.

    Thus, to use an old argument once more, sugar is still the favored product into the production of which all the energy of the government is channeled. The belief is that the United States is in dire need of the commodity, when the unalterable fact is that the American purchase of Philippine sugar and of sugar in other regions is merely a political weapon in the furtherance of American strategic interests, whether in Latin America, in Taiwan or in the Philippines.

    But of course, the unsavory result of the development of sugar at the expense of other Philippine products is the elevation of sugar producers into a powerful economic and political elite which must be courted by administrations in exchange for votes and financial support.

    Thus the situation arises in which an economic and social evil is perpetuated in the name of false development. What is worse is that the sugar elitism leads to vast discrepancies in wealth, something which is dangerous in so poverty-stricken a country as the Philippines.

    It must be admitted that there are sugar barons who are capable of thinking in terms of social justice and who are indeed more than generous to the people who work for them. But the vast majority of those involved in the sugar industry are incapable of practicing social justice in the sense that this phrase is understood by the masses.

    It is, therefore, no wonder that the sugar barons are anti-nationalists and are the rooters for the perpetuation of Philippine dependence on the United States. these are the people who will work for the preservation of the present ties with the United States, who will spend millions for the perversion of nationalism, and who will die for the economic and social status quo.

    The tremendous truth which emerges from all this is that as long as the government is convinced that sugar deserves all the bounty that it can give, the other more pertinent truth that there are sources other than the United States for economic aid and counsel will never dawn on the Filipinos.

    Thus, as long as sugar elitism is not replaced by an elitism that is geared to the needs of the masses, no administration will ever succeed in solving the tremendous problems which beset the country.

    And what is worse, no administration will ever succeed in asserting the independence of the Philippines and liberating it from the increasingly dangerous liaison with the United States which has become an active threat to world peace. (02-26-1967).

    The Myth of Reforms

    It is not by accident that the first allies of the American military in the Philippines in 1898 were the Filipino ilustrados who played the role of meliorists during the Propaganda Movement, who were forced by circumstances to participate in the Revolution, and who crossed enemy lines to fall straight into American arms when the United States replaced Spain as the target of revolutionary action.

    For the ilustrados, whose ablest and most heroic spokesman was Jose Rizal, had a profound distrust in the capacity of the masses for independence. Their collective testimony before the various commissions sent here by Washington during the early years of American occupation are the evidence of this distrust. 

    They tried to rationalize their equivocal position, in the pathetic manner of Basilio in the Fili, by arguing that political action, especially of the revolutionary variety, should not be the concern of professionals and intellectuals.

    But the ilustrados were also in the main the bulwark of the trading and cacique class. Thus, when when the American military were replaced by the pioneering traders in the Philippines, or, to express it more accurately, when a number of American officers and sergeants decided to stay and become traders, their most loyal collaborators were the betrayers of the Philippine Revolution.

    Today, the heirs and descendants of these people are the indefatigable defenders of the colonial status of the country. In partnership with, or as the agent of the Americans, they have become the dominant group, and their attitudes and preconceptions in the economic and social field form the substance of the platforms of the two major parties. And Filipino politicians, with a handful of shining exceptions, express in a language that the masses can at least understand the essential Americanism of the Filipino elite. 

    This is why nothing but lip service can be paid to social and economic reforms. And this is why, too, all attempts to abolish tenancy have remained just that --attempts. For the strength of that symbiotic relationship between the lowest form of American financial capital, on the one hand, and its Filipino agents on the other, is much too much to be dented by cries of reform uttered for political expediency.

    And so it is that the Philippines is fast nearing a cul de sac. One administration is merely the continuation of the previous one under another President. The only difference is that the art of propaganda is perfected in direct proportion to the hardening of the divisions between classes.

    What is worse is that, for obvious reasons, even men and women of the lower orders who are adversely affected by the sad spectacle of events repeating themselves and of politicians compounding the sins of their predecessors, have turned into zombies, activated and reactivated from time to time by politicians' promises conveyed through the rapidly multiplying Philippine mass media.

    It would be unfair to forget that some villages in the remote areas have been made into model communities through the contributions of the USAID and the efforts of naive Filipino social workers. But set against the medieval scenery and medieval social arrangements which may be found in vast and popularized regions, the few model villages are simply advertisements of heaven on earth.

    The changes needed to bring about a replacement of the medieval setting are too drastic for the taste and comfort of the present-day ilustrados. And considering that these count on the support of the powerful American interests --in the political as well as in the economic field-- it is easy to imagine why the only solution to the impasse is the casting into the fire of such convenient symbols and written understandings as "special relations," "historic friendship," free trade, military bases, and "partnership" in the free world.

    The alternative is the rise of a succession of Filipino Diems and Thieus and also the eventual emergence of their opposites, the Filipino Viet Cong.  (11-09-1968)

    The Mestizeousie

    In the Philippines, as in all places in Asia, the first sexual contact between the European and the native occurred at the soldier-lavandera level. The Spanish cazador, lonely and virile, and the Filipina of the lowest order, in need of status and security, were the Adam and Eve of the colonial creation. And so were the American GIs of 1898 and the Filipina-dancer-street-walkers who materialized around the American camps.

    What must also be forgotten is that the Spanish mestizos --the majority of them anyway-- never identified themselves with the natives during the whole length of the Spanish regime and even during the Revolution. 

    When the Americans came, they rooted for the invaders, and the most illustrious among them gave testimony before the various American Commissions, but  most particularly before the first, on the incompetence and savagery of the dark-skinned natives.

    These things, we suggest, should have no place in the memory of the modern Filipino, for being a member of a national community, he should have the capacity to let bygones be bygones. Moreover, he should be thankful for the dalliance between the Spanish cazador and the American GI, on the one hand, and the Filipina lavendera, on the other; for without the dalliance, beverage trucks would have gone begging for drivers, the sepia of dance halls and nightclubs would have been unrelieved by the flashing face of the mestizo, and Chinese millionaires would have been forced into a monogamous existence.

    But the truth is, 375 years of Spanish and 52 years of American rule have so affected the character and mind of the Filipino that even today a good number of them, particularly those of them who live in the cities, who are articulate, who wield influence and who profit from foreign contacts, look upon themselves not as Malayans but as the happy blending of white and Malayan blood.

    Hence of all regions in Asia, it is only in the Philippines where the fortuitous combination of divergent racial traits is regarded as an augury of a bright future. In Malaya, India, Burma and China, the Eurasian is the marginal man, who is neither Asian nor European. He is shunned by the Asians and he is the conscience of the European. Socially and economically, he can never belong, first because it is never possible to tell where his loyalty lies and second, because his lowly origin  --the accidental meeting between the bored European soldier or clerk and the overworked Asian kitchen maid-- always crop up when he makes his appearance on any scene, be it the marketplace or the hotel lobby. 

    But in the Philippines, as we have said, the situation is different. Here the social and economic arbiters are the Eurasians, or, to use the proper term, the mestizos. This is so because in a society where the dominant groups are of the other races, the services of the mestizos are needed. And because they have rendered themselves worthy of their hire, their economic rewards have been huge. They have thus been able to attain positions of influence in the community. It is their values and standards, the word Malayan has nothing but a rhetorical significance. 

    Consequently, the Filipino of the city and town, the Filipino, in other words, who is a captive of Eurasian values, cringes at being referred to as a Malay. Far better it is to be called a Brother American. (01-10-1959)

    Source: SOLIONGCO TODAY, Edited by Prof. Renato Constantino (1981)
                    Foundation for Nationalist Studies, Quezon City

    The first priority for any underdeveloped country, before it can begin the economic and social development most appropriate to the needs of its people, is the seizure of power by the masses and the total destruction of the control and influence of the foreign power and local exploiting elite. Without this, nothing is possible.” – Felix Green, British Author, 1970

    "The truth of the matter is that most of the people, outside of the Filipinos, who favor this bill are fundamentally opposed to Philippine Independence. Many of them have told me so. Their whole philosophy is to keep the Philippines economically even though we lose them politically." - U.S. Senator Millard Tydings, U.S. Congressional Record on Public Hearing of the Bell Trade Act, March 1946

     ”We gave the Philippines political freedom to enter the world family of nations, but did we give them internal political liberty? More important still, did we grant them economic freedom?”  – Harold L. Ickes, longest tenured U.S. Secretary of the Interior (1933-1946)

    " Fear history, for it respects no secrets" - Gregoria de Jesus (widow of Andres Bonifacio)

    "We must confront the privileged elite who have destroyed a large part of the world".- Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan President (Nov 1999-March 2013) 

    A highly recommended book re our ruling elite/oligarchs:
    The Modern Principalia: The Historical Evolution of the Philippine Ruling Oligarchy Jun 30, 2007, by Dante C. Simbulan 

    The Modern Principalia is about the Philippine ruling elite―who they are and how they evolved in history. It delves into their economic interests as well as their lifestyles, how they acquired their wealth and built a world of their own. It describes their family links and their interlocking interests with other elites and foreign partners.
    The book also examines the values and behavior of the elite in politics and government, how they exploit the poverty and ignorance of the masses to win political power, and what they do with that power.

    - END OF POST -


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