Monday, February 11, 2008

What's on my mind in Guymon

I had to leave for the US on the day that Mr. Lozada had that early morning press conference. I didn’t want to but our clinic needed attention. Amid all the excitement in the Philippines, I find myself back in Guymon, quiet and serene and cold. This is a photo taken at the backyard of Dr. Paul. We had a dusting of snow early this morning.

Whenever I am busy working and I get to snatch a few minutes here and there to look at the websites of Philippine newspapers, I sense moments of clarity. That while I and 10 million other Filipinos are quietly working and contributing towards the upkeep of our country, there is an entire industry back home that decides how all these combined assets will be managed. I am of course referring to the industry that is dominated by traditional politicians.

Many people make an extraordinary living out of this industry. Membership grows in logarithmic fashion. Some talented and lucky guy manages to rise through the ranks and with more luck and pluck gets to pass all the accrued power and privileges to lingering relatives. All this would be cool if the business was run well just as we have successful companies that continue to grow when the various heirs take over. Contrast this to our situation when political leadership has been turned into a birthright that we, the sweating masses blindly support.

The problem is especially glaring at this time. Most positions of consequence are occupied by an elite group of individuals who exclusively derive their income from political wheeling and dealing. It is easy to see why the national interest is frequently subverted by dynastic considerations. So we witness all these children and grandchildren and all other political beneficiaries pursue the same methods, pathways and solutions because it’s all about preserving the existing order with the least amount of discomfort.

We’re still importing rice, medications, food, construction materials, vehicles after all these years. Smuggling has become more rampant, tax collection is dismal. And from 9000 miles away, I wonder why we persist in looking to all these senators and congressmen for enlightened decisions that will get us out of this mess. Why aren’t these professional politicians absolutely horrified with these revelations that can only be characterized as a disaster? Maybe because most of them are part of the stunt.

When are we going to awaken to the simple reality that these problems require totally different solutions? By totally committed, non professional political leaders who are painfully conscious of the unacceptable levels of poverty and suffering in our country? The situation we find ourselves embroiled in is tragic. We must not be naïve to think that this industry will not yield without a monumental battle. We must be vigilant and we must be prepared to sacrifice.


JayM said...

Leaders will come and go, and so will good men and bad.

The question in the Philippines should be "how do we go about strengthening our institutions?" Long after you or I or GMA or Lozada are gone, those institutions will remain.

Anonymous said...

honestly, i hope thunder will strike the senate session hall because that place is particularly filled with nasty and greedy people. strike 'em out and replace them for good. no parliament please.

Fr. Ernesto A. Juarez, Jr. said...

we share the same sentiment.. we need change, the are a lot of poor people suffering from hunger, nowhere to stay.. greedy politicians stay in their comfort zones getting more wealth while they deceive their poor constituents

Anonymous said...

Greedy people refuse to realize that possessions and worldly pleasures do not truly bring happiness. When they get tired of one thing they just go for another. So the hunger is just constantly fed but never satisfied.

demeter said...

Well said. Granted that corruption is ubiquitously present in all governing bodies around the world and not just the Philippines, it does not justify this rampant greed and lack of ethics our so called "leaders" show. Perhaps what they need are lessons in ethics and philosophy - or worse, maybe they just choose to ignore their learning in favor of personal comfort. In any case, raising taxes so they can borrow and steal some more is an outrage! It is us, the poor and middle class who must eventually pay for what THEY steal and so it is left to US to make sure these thieves and degenerates are punished and their plans foiled.