Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bourgeois . . . Intelligentsia

They are a couple of sociological terms that define ideological. I've found myself constantly on Google every time there is an article about Pope Francis. And when he said ideological Christianity was an illness, and then came November being “Filipinos Values Month,” the latter would give me pause. We have a Filipinos Values Month; how did it come about? What is the object of the exercise? Since it came from a presidential proclamation back in 1994, it brings President Ramos to mind.

“Political stability, increasing investor confidence, and an improved energy situation fueled renewed economic growth in the Philippines during 1994. President Fidel V. Ramos still faced considerable opposition in his effort to reform the economic and political systems. In the political realm, Ramos continued efforts to overcome the executive-legislative gridlock, negotiate peace with the various rebel groups, and enhance diplomatic and trade relations with Pacific Rim and European countries. In the economic realm, Ramos worked to implement an expanded value-added tax (VAT), increase market competition, further the privatization of public enterprises, and complete the construction of new energy-production facilities.” [The Philippines in 1994: Renewed Growth and Contested Reforms, Jeffrey Riedinger, 1995, p 209; University of California Press]

“The autonomy and capacity of the Philippine state are constrained by elite penetration of the state and the exclusionary nature of Philippine democracy. Political dynasties are a continuing feature of Philippine politics. Two-thirds of the members of the House of Representatives have at least one close relative in public office, and virtually all members of the Senate have multiple relatives in elective and appointive government positions. The 1987 Constitution directs the state to prohibit “political dynasties” but the Congress had failed to enact such legislation . . . The state is also limited by a weak party system and President's Ramos inability to fashion a reliable working majority in the Congress. The leading parties are personality-based coalitions of politicians with independent power bases.”

Back to the Values Month: “It seeks to promote greater consciousness of values that are uniquely and positively Filipino – love of God and country, strong family ties, care and respect for elders, diligence, patience, loyalty, hospitality, bayanihan, generosity, regard for personal honor and dignity.” [Manila Bulletin, 31st Oct 2013] “Values are the root of traditions that Filipinos find important in their day-to-day events. They are instilled early in life, are deeply ingrained, and are resistant to change. They are developed from people's direct experiences with others who are important to them, such as parents, teachers, friends and classmates.”

What conclusion can be drawn from that exposition of our supposed values? While it starts with the truly positive love of God and country, it also offers a window to the reality of Juan de la Cruz? Why are we economic laggards and despite pervasive poverty why haven't we changed our worldview – because it is deeply ingrained and resistant to change? It likewise confirms why 178 political dynasties dominate 73 out of 80 provinces? And while dynasties have family members at their core (to be expected given our strong family ties?) they are preserved, protected and defended by friends, classmates and cronies as we witnessed with Marcos, Estrada and Arroyo, among others?

But high-ranking officials are elders – even when they are “diligent” in mismanaging government and misappropriating taxpayers' money – and so Juan de la Cruz must remain patient and loyal? Is it a surprise if the elite class promotes these supposed values? And could they mirror the ideological Christianity that Francis has indicted and denounced as an illness? And not to mince words, he called them narcissists and suffering from leprosy? And he didn't spare the Vatican Bank, which recently had to go public to satisfy global transparency norms. Bank regulators had for a long time been frustrated by the secrecy of the bank especially as the church had to settle large judicial judgments from sexual abuse cases – even to the point of declaring bankruptcy in specific cases. And so a US cardinal proudly defended shielding church funds from these law suits. [How different is that from hierarchical PHL? The absence of transparency gives individuals, including cardinals, license to transgress?] But Francis had to put his foot down and mandated transparency; that the church, while an elder in the eyes of the faithful, is not above the law.

And who else benefits from a cacique-like hierarchical system and structure? Francis calls them savage capitalists! And in the case of PHL, 40 families control up to 76% of the economy. And because our “values” are deeply ingrained and are resistant to change, we are simply doomed? Where is Philippine media? Or is it in fact a bigger problem, a social cancer, as Rizal called it – because growth and economic development means embracing progress, and demands facing and responding to the challenge of change? Yet we see change as going against the grain?

We're not the only ones bound to fail – with Juan de la Cruz – is Francis bound to fail, too? Because our ideology is deeply ingrained and resistant to change, Padre Damaso is our model not Francis? Rizal was truly prescient, over 100 years ago he saw us as backward and anti-progress! Where is the supposed love of God and country in a value system that is skewed to perpetuate the few?

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