Monday, February 20, 2012

Part 3 – The Sad State of Filipino Morality

A Question of Semantics

The stand of the pro-TRO senators is slowly revealing the obvious, notable being the statements of senators Trillanes and Guingona.


For Trillanes, would he still have time to regret “breaking an unlawful order” when the ramifications of his disobedience are far greater than the “unlawfulness” he wants to quash? And for Guingona, (to be blunt, his is truly laughable) his Ciceronian rhetoric is a classic trademark of traditional politicians: an appeal to pure emotions – stirring, yet sadly lacking in substance.

It makes one think of how elected Filipino officials truly are an apt reflection of society at large: the former, a mirror of the common citizens made artificially ignorant by the status quo to become ideal sheep (fit for slaughter); the latter, a reflection of the status quo unfairly perpetuating that very ignorance for personal ends. Nevertheless, serious matters loom ahead…

The turn of events regarding Ms. Tingson’s cross-examination and the disputed documents puts a question in the minds of all: can a thuggish act justify the motive for righteousness? Put simply, can one justify an error with another? If yes, where then is the so-touted “fairness of the law”, that not only should cater to the aggrieved but to the accused and convicted as well?


Dura Lex, Sed Lex?

No human society can exist without laws – more so with the institutions that enforce them. From the code of Kalantiaw to the Islamic Shari’ah, pre-Hispanic Philippine societies acknowledge the necessity of peace and order in the rudimentary laws they promulgated. Without them, their continued existence would be difficult if not impossible. And so it is with the Ten Commandments bestowed by God through Moses – not so much to enforce obedience to guarantee an afterlife in Heaven, but to protect man from himself. For the ancient Romans, the written law is a shield – to protect individuals against one another and against the awesome power of the state (Reid). One can academically discuss at length the necessity and indispensability of the law. Human history has shown its contribution to a number of known civilizations (except China, which shall be mentioned later). There can probably be only one gripe with it – its rigidness. Half a world away from ancient Rome, another civilization chose to do away with laws. Being an inflexible apparatus of the state, opponents claim it is unable to address countless exceptions in human relationships. A solid dependence on written laws can only give rise to misunderstandings – the contradictions or legal double-standards that plagued ancient Rome and other societies within in cultural ambit ever since. These opponents, the Chinese Confucians, ran their empire by putting their full trust in the innate goodness of its citizens – and that thought has persisted even today (which owes much to the cultural clashes in modern Chinese society). It is those contradictions – the exceptions of the law – that has brought many a dilemma in Philippine courts. As such, in the event of disputes, interpretations from both sides are relied upon then judged which is of greater merit. It is unfortunate that any human creation – even laws – has seriously exploitable flaws. As one can see, there is no perfect human law.


The Prosecution’s Gambit

From there, it’s the contradiction in the laws where the prosecution draws their premise: though the evidence was illegally obtained, but it turned out that very evidence was instrumental in proving an offense to be true, the ends justify the means.

But, can justice achieved through acts of overt vengeance be laudable? Must the world be seen – no, dictated – in black and white for due process to be utterly disregarded? To reiterate that previous question: can one error be justified by another?

Even if one sways public opinion and the courts to laud and give merit to such an act, does it still have merit when that very act has imperiled greater matters – like legally permitting violations of civil liberties and harming the national economy?

There is a popular folktale in Japan entitled, “The Forty-Seven Ronin”. But, before proceeding it pays to introduce the readers to some Japanese terms. Ronin are samurai (bodyguards, roughly speaking) deprived of a master or overlord (daimyo in Japanese) to serve for or caused to be withdrawn from a daimyo’s employ - the oft-heard “shogun” is the ruling military dictator of Japan then. In the tale, the ronin took vengeance against a daimyo who caused their master to be unjustly subjected to ritual suicide. In those days, ritual suicide – or formally referred to by Japanese as seppuku – is the mode of punishment for men of high standing in Japanese society. The murder committed by those ronin to cleanse their master’s shame put the Shogun in a dilemma – should these men be put to death for avenging an injustice committed against their master?

Under the principle of Hagakure, truly loyal samurai shall uphold the honor of their master even in his death. This principle, which the Shogun is also aware, befuddled his choice of verdict for quite some time. In the end though, the laws of the land took precedence. As it was to custom, the ronin – down to the last man – took their own lives and were buried near their master’s grave.


Who has the superior power now?

It is with the personal, biased interpretations of the laws that many get their misguided moral principles. Case in point are the biased interpretations of some people who are personally against Philippine laws permitting cousin marriages, as well as of US officials with religious leanings against the laws permitting stem cell research. In the former, misguided morals hamper the right of free will of others who choose partners that (though socially taboo) are permissible under the sound and verified logic of the law and medical science.* For the latter, prudish and ill-informed decisions based on murky, religious doctrines has put the lives of seriously-ill patients who stand to benefit from the fruits of such life-saving research.

As for Banal’s antics, it is obvious enough he acted out of vanity. Deluding himself to be doing the right thing, his myopia has seriously put his motherland’s economy on the brink of collapse. Being a public official genuinely guarding the public’s welfare it also means ensuring economic stability – assuring the people’s livelihoods or their employment maintains the integrity of the social fabric. Furthermore, he has permitted a dangerous precedent by satisfying personal political objectives at the expense of liberty.

It should have been in his best interests to permit free reign to the courts and not complicate their job.

And what of the equal footing between the Senate and the Supreme Court? Though many admit the Constitution is not that perfect, logic dictates that EVERY convicted citizen be given the right to appeal .

Even if the Senate get their way of being above the Supreme Court, that alone has precipitated a constitutional crisis itself – that of denying the right of appeal of a convicted citizen, a human right duly mandated in the Constitution.


Of Right or Might

Eventually, the prosecution will force into the minds of all the righteousness of the circumstances in gaining Corona’s bank documents. The exhortation to sway opinion in their favor borders on demagoguery, and not an appeal to democracy. The prosecution’s righteous stance has begun to alienate and disgust the masses. It is the most lethal of errors to employ the stand of righteousness when the public has been made aware it’s merely used to finish an ugly personal vendetta. Nothing can be more revolting than to use the noblest of social values to gain personal ends. Think of it as using open generosity with strings attached or to twist religious principles for sexual favors (as what Padre Damaso did to Maria Clara’s mother in, “Noli Me Tangere”). It is sheer irresponsibility to blindly work up emotions and bear them on the zeal of misguided principles.

At so it is that even the most altruistic of intentions where catastrophes arise. People with misguided principles are often the easiest victims of swindlers, or are those who can lead a nation into ruin – as Mao Zedong did with his “Great Leap Forward”. The crash program that was meant to jumpstart his nation into almost overnight industrial status has ended up causing hardship and starvation to his people. The Dot Com bust was also the result of wrong assumptions and misconceptions – and left many companies broken and ruined in its wake.

The moral of the story: well-informed decisions and temperance always pays.





*the website, cousincouples.com, is a good introduction to the legal merits and scientific backing of cousing marriages and cousin romances

Sources:
T.R. Reid, “The Power and Glory of the Roman Empire” ,National Geographic, July 1997
Dennis Bloodworth, “The Chinese Machiavelli”
Jonathan Fenby, “The Dragon Throne”
Stephen Turnbull, “Samurai Warriors”
Prof. Teodoro A. Agoncillo, “The History of the Filipino People – 5th edition”

Friday, February 17, 2012

Part 2 – The Sad State of Filipino Morality

Pakikisama – Conformity without Conscience

A Filipino politician’s success rests on how well he sidles up to his superiors. Obviously, some are willing to lick P-noy’s boots to be in his good graces, thus securing favors. Whether this regime’s subterfuges on the impeachment trial are hard truth, the same can’t be said for any willing lackey’s motives. In other words, they’re willing to show they’re easy to get along with His Excellency.

For it is hard truth in Filipino social life that conformity and suave interpersonal relations are necessities for gaining impeccable social standing and advancement: be it in the workplace, in family dynamics… or in politics.

In “History of the Filipino People”, the late Prof. Teodoro Agoncillo couldn’t clearly define it but implied that conformity and good interpersonal relations constitute the Filipino sociological trait known as “pakikisama”. It’s the very trait that lent the Filipino his adaptability in societies other than his own and to be liked by those around him.

Pakikisama is conformity, in a sense that one’s consciousness must be in line with the beliefs, morals or social values (mga nakagisnang paniniwala) of the majority.

Pakikisama is also good interpersonal relations, in a sense that one must foster friendships or camaraderie with that same majority.

Whether one would debate that the above are really one and the same, one aspect makes each distinct. In the Filipino context, “pakikisama” entails little or no room for compromise because of conformity (unlike in interpersonal relations, where compromise is a necessity). In the Philippines, when one conforms never can he deviate from the norms otherwise he risks censure (thus leading to Filipino society’s conservativeness). Filipinos maintain a shame-based consciousness much like the mainland Chinese. For the Filipino then, not only must he go along well with those around him but his morals and norms must also be similar to theirs. And this is where lies the heart of pakikisama’s downside. Of course, to conform and to get along well with others is good – but, what if the greater part of Filipino society puts too much premium on vanity and corruption? (especially, when the upper classes are involved.) Its uncomfortable duality has many times caused both moral and social dilemmas to every Filipino (which are legion).

Unless one is at the top, lesser geldings have no choice but to endure a majority with questionable ethics. The sad part is, most end up getting indoctrinated by that majority thereby perpetuating the same questionable ethics. In the workplace, this is a common occurrence – notably, in ITO-BPO companies, like call centers.

It is common practice among superiors (team leaders, operations managers, etc.) to manipulate job performance stats. With such companies, numbers merely measure the worth of an employee. With the lack of any genuine objective measure for performance, the software or paper criteria determining job competency can be easily cheated (one should be aware that they have IT departments). It’s no wonder many incompetents get easily promoted in those companies. For that same reason, new hires and underlings shamelessly cozy up to those chiefs to manipulate their stats also. Eventually, those same people take the top company posts and perpetuate their predecessor’s practices – all thanks to “pakikisama”.

The honest ones, though, fare badly.

The very ones who strive hard to work on their merit and steer clear of corrupt company practices are the ones cited by their superiors having “poor performance” or “unsatisfactory work behavior/attitude”. Most of them get framed up with bogus company violations then fired. The “taint” of honesty they carry forces them to face a future of employment uncertainties.*

That example is played out many times over in other workplaces – in bank, government or private, in government agency offices, and the like – for either the same aforementioned purpose or otherwise. The common factor in all of them is securing of favors – a utilization of what Prof. Renato Constantino refers to as the principle of “pseudo-camaraderie for private ends”.

Prof. Agoncillo cites that “pakikisama” are wielded by those desirous of vanity and advancement at the expense of good morals. The result of which (to quote him): the beautiful Filipino trait of pakikisama has, therefore, been denuded of its nobility by the political imperatives and by the perverted sense of values that have dominated the character of many Filipinos.

From the previous example, it can be inferred that “pakikisama” can become a vehicle to spread unethical practices and unpleasant social values.

Since “pakikisama” entails conformity, whenever a dominant personality –with questionable ethics – comes to rule over a group, it is sure that underlings will be swayed by his influence.

And so it is within families.

Is it not that children learn the vestiges and nuances of their society through their parents?

And why is it that succeeding generations of Filipinos become worse? Is history or nurture to blame?

Whatever the cause, parents past and present have unfortunately caused to trickle errant beliefs and values upon succeeding generations. Hence, it can be fair to say that the present Filipino’s moral degradation can be blamed on the tenacious desire of most parents to exhort their children to have thinking patterns based on theirs – masked under the pretense of parental wisdom and concern. More often than not, parents carry the same indoctrination from their own parents and from ancestors before – thus perpetuating the cycle.

Such upbringing stifles the vital capacity of free will – an essential for any enlightened and democratic society – making younger generations easy prey to corrupt social influences.

And with a Filipino society burdened by Chinese influences such as individualism and acquisitiveness, lack of discipline and obedience, would one wonder why Filipinos find it hard to get ahead?

The Filipinos drive for financial freedom is understandable – a huge number of the population is tired of the material deprivation they live out. It is with that same drive though (coupled with an influentially backward upbringing) that causes them to go out of control. And never can we doubt a Filipino parent’s well-meaning intentions – the only root concern is their tendency to tenaciously cling onto their beliefs and indoctrinate without compromise. Besides, is it not true that the old find it hard to change their thinking? Their methods of upbringing stifle the inner capacity of the youth to critically question how applicable the values of the older generation are to the present. This is what leads to the stifling of free will – the capacity to decide on choices that have been well-sought out of information and well-thought of to choose.

It can be said then that the Filipino can be compared to an animal – the lemming. Like them, they don’t mind mimicking their fellows, even when it means all of them falling off into moral suicide.


*It has come to my knowledge that all ITO-BPO companies have recently formed an association. One of its functions is to screen blacklisted employees from one company and denying him employment into another company affiliated with the association.


Sources:
* Prof. Teodoro A. Agoncillo, “The History of the Filipino People” – 5th edition, R.P. Garcia
Publishing Co.
* Prof. Renato C. Constantino, “Dissent and Counter-Consciousness” – Malaya Books, Inc.

Part 1 – The Sad State of Filipino Morality




Introduction

With the Corona impeachment trial, the drama played out is an uncomfortable reflection of how the average Filipino regards the nation’s laws and the principle of

due process. The court hearings and related events are - in a way - a macrocosm of Filipino social life. Some of the essential Filipino values are exercised there – unfortunately, they were applied in a negative fashion (that is, what one must not do). What’s worrying is that, one’s actions become an example for all – that’s the common Filipino excuse to point that out, to justify an act. Then again, the excuse itself is not the issue but of how legal that act is. In a whole, that affair (the trial) reinforces the view that any current Filipino administration is indeed a reflection of the voting public. The article that follows – written in four parts - is inspired by the ongoing trial, not so much in criticizing how it is handled but in how it relates to the common citizen. Besides, any criticism against our leaders is really a criticism against the very citizens who ennobled him with the public mandate.

As the impeachment story unfolds the more that this society’s reflection is laid bare. It is what the eminent American classical scholar, Frank Bourne, considers as “de nobis fabula narratur” – their story is our story.


Virtue from Vanity


2011 saw Japan in a state of tragedy. The double whammy of an earthquake and a tsunami struck its northeast region. Lives were lost and survivors forcibly faced the ruin and uncertainty. By far, this was worst since that of Kobe and the 1923 Kanto quake. Somehow, one observation served as the nation’s praise-worthy glimmer: though stores and homes were abandoned, no one ever attempted to loot them.

A far cry from New Orleans’ Hurricane Katrina onslaught in the US – the locals looted stores and homes at will, in spite of help they received from relief agencies. They were far more deserving of the “un-Christian” tirades unfairly thrown at the stricken Japanese. They may not be Christian, but they had the sense to exercise the “Christian” 7th and 10th commandments. Arguing voices debate the Japanese immaculateness, as well as asserting the Christian’s virtuousness - but what’s the use if one doesn’t practice its precepts? Many Christian Filipinos are guilty of the self-righteousness they exercise – as can be reflected in the following story (from Chin-Ning Chu’s, “Thick Face, Black Heart”)

A Holy Man’s Sacred Vow

A holy man was meditating beneath a tree at the crossing of two roads. His meditation was interrupted by a young man running frantically down the road toward him.

“Help me,” the young man pleaded. “A man has wrongly accused me of stealing. He is pursuing me with a great crowd of people. If they catch me, they will chop off my hands.”

The young man climbed the tree beneath which the sage had been meditating and hid himself in the branches. “Please don’t tell them where I am hiding,” he begged.

The holy man saw with the clear vision of a saint that the young man was telling him the truth. The lad was not a thief.

A few moments later, the crowd of villagers approached, and the leader asked, “Have you seen a young man run by here?”

Many years earlier, the holy man had taken a vow to always speak the truth, so he said that he had.

“Where did he go?” the leader asked.

The holy man did not want to betray the innocent young man, but his vow was sacred to him. He pointed up into the tree. The villagers dragged the young man out of the tree and chopped off his hands.

When the holy man died and stood before Judgment, he was condemned for his behavior in regard to the unfortunate young man.

“But,” he protested, “I had made a holy vow to speak only the truth. I was bound to act as I did.”

“On that day,” came the reply, “you loved vanity more than virtue. It was not for virtue’s sake that you delivered the innocent man over to his persecutors, but to preserve a vain image of yourself as a virtuous person.”

She ends it by saying, “The limited human wisdom that guides our concept of virtue often becomes our compelling force for evil. Our false concept of virtue often is nothing but vanity – an attempt to gain praise or to be self-righteous about how virtuous we are.”

Such is apt observation of how Filipinos regard virtue – the Ms. Chu sums it up in the phrase, “virtue from vanity”.

Fr. Jaime Bulatao, a Jesuit priest, loathes the Filipino’s “split-level Christianity” and Bob Garon would write of the “Sunday morning Christian” attitude they exercise – being pious only on Sundays and unscrupulous for the rest of the week. Filipinos should admit that God and Jesus are merely doormats for them, citing “human frailty” as an excuse to commit sin. It is also with that schizophrenic attitude that motivates them to not only exercise social values as a front, but TO ALSO USE THOSE VERY VALUES AS MEANS FOR NEFARIOUS ENDS. Like the holy man in the story, some would do anything to preserve a vain image of righteousness. Mr. Garon would emphasize being worried with Filipinos “coming to terms with this contradictory attitude and remain unbothered by it.”

Eventually, one’s unscrupulous act becomes the virtuous benchmark that elders would exhort the youth to emulate. What Filipino society is today can be partly blamed on the present generation, but the greater burden of guilt must fall on the majority of elders who indoctrinated them with the maxim, “virtue over vanity”.

Again, that even means resorting to manipulate noble Filipino values…

Sources:

Chin-Ning Chu, “Thick Face, Black Heart” – Warner Business Books

Bob Garon, “A Spiritually Bankrupt People” – Manila Standard, Aug. 26, 1993

T.R. Reid, “The Power and Glory of the Roman Empire” – National Geographic, July 1997, Vol. 192, No. 1

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Travails of Our Cheap Justice

I suggest to His Excellency and his underlings to learn to play chess. It is a game that inculcates the habit of “thinking ahead”. Whenever one moves his piece, it is assumed he has calculated 10 moves ahead or more. The game forces one to develop the mind of a god. Surveying the chess board, he becomes aware that one move sends ripples all throughout - that determines the outcome of a campaign. It isn’t a game where brute force prevails. One can’t just go along taking his foe’s piece for each one of his own the other side gains. It takes calculated finesse.


Were the prosecutors expecting some grand reinforcements?


Their rationalized, heavy-handed tactics seems to imply that someone’s calling all the shots. Well, if it’s for forcing to conclude the case ASAP then well and good. Let’s hope the shots they’re calling won’t be turned on them.

Which wants to me to refer this historical fact: has anyone wondered why the US lost the war with Vietnam? Though having the techno-industrial upper hand, they may have won militarily but overall, it was a colossal failure. Blame it on the Vietcong outsmarting Big, Dumb Brute Brother. They were wise enough to employ a grand strategy in the war. They struck at the very core of it: the hearts and minds of the American public. A war cannot be waged and won without the support of the people. Even if a state has all the advantages to wage what will be an unpopular war, its citizens will not bear the taint it puts on ALL of them in the end. They would better opt to stay out of it. No amount of propaganda can ever goad mature and critical citizens who know the real score. Indeed, it will be a Pyrrhic victory for all – where gains are outnumbered by the losses. And it was the last thing the American public wanted.


Continued talks of compromise would’ve been better. A cleaner measure compared to the present actions taken. One president can only do so much in his limited term. Or in this case, the court proceedings can only gain so much for the prosecution. They can go further but at what cost? They can attain justice to satisfy the policy of “matuwid na daan”, but it will only create sinkholes instead of eliminating potholes in the long run. To the masses’ detriment, they’re making our already cheap justice further cheap. The prosecution is toying it around as we speak. The trial liars…er…lawyers are doing a good job at it. Um, wait – come to think of it, the words “liar” and “lawyer” almost sound so much alike they’re becoming synonymous.


And that’s the tragedy of it. Every Filipino now is aware that a court hearing isn’t really a crusade for justice. The truth is that whoever gives the most persuasive, most compelling, and most convincing presentation wins the case. They can say anything and show anything then only make it look good. That is how majority of court cases are won (sadly). Then mob psychology works to color it with the impression that “justice was served”.

Why be shocked? Didn’t you know by now that in this imperfect world, the ideal only exists in the mind?

But that doesn’t mean fairness cannot be achieved. Besides, isn’t gaining fairness the end goal of justice? And fairness, my friends, can be gained only through compromise. They’re all politicians for crying out loud – don’t tell me they can’t live up to their role?


It’s a lot better than turning our Chief Justice into CHEAP justice – the one you can dispose at whim.

Red Means Dunce

This is a reaction to “Warning Against the US Bases’ Return” by Samuel P. Medenilla (Manila Bulletin, 2/3/2012 issue). I should say, Soluta should READ MORE and UNDERSTAND MORE of Chinese history.

The KMU secretary general’s statements can be read as TREASONOUS.

If there’s anything more that we need, it is MILITARY LEVERAGE. We may have past misgivings with the US presence, but all the more do we need them. Better then to endure once more their stay. As the Chinese would quote, “swallow the teeth and the blood – for if small things are not suffered, great matters are imperiled”.

For Red China is a serious threat than assumed.

We Filipinos should “TALK FROM STRENGTH” much like those Maoists. Plain talk will lead us to nowhere. Yeah, we can discuss all we want with Beijing but then what? They’re really buying time through these negotiations – ENOUGH TIME TO BULK UP OFFENSIVES. Wiser then to encourage the Aquino government to foster a multi-lateral initiative with ASEAN states against Chinese harassment. Furthermore, we can have this mutual defense agreement with Nepal together with the US to check Chinese expansionism. Isn’t Mr. Soluta aware that Beijing is secretly undermining the Nepalese government? They’re also a victim like us. WHY DIDN’T HE BRING THOSE SUGGESTIONS UP INSTEAD OF WHINING COWARDICE TO THE MEDIA?!

The world knows that the Chinese are masters of negotiation. To sum up their style, they love to “TALK GENTLY WHILE WIELDING A HUGE CLUB”. I should’ve said “big stick” at the end but that’s clearly an understatement (you people know why). That KMU idiot doesn’t know that more talk displays weakness. Why then the continued intrusions if he deems talks are effective, in spite of continued negotiations? Clearly, we’re not getting results and we’re bored sick with waiting on mere promises. Oops for you, KMU – you’ve made a faux pas.

Those Philippine Reds ought to think before they run their mouths. All the more they unravel their true colors whenever they muster such talk. Ingat sila sa pagladlad.


The One Disease that Afflicts Almost 95% Filipinos

This is an excerpt from the book, "A Catalogue of Filipino Social Ailments" by Dr. Juan Cristos de Medico:

Kleptospirosis - a serious illness that compels a sufferer to steal and steal and steal. Mild symptoms include petty theft to grave plundering of government funds. This is usually in conjunction with other serious illnesses that further compound the effects of the symptoms of the former - like, when a sufferer is also suffering from glips*, the symptoms' impact becomes tenfold because he is able to convince his victims to be swindled.

It is mostly spread via eye contact - that is, a victim who unwarily observes the symptoms of a sufferer becomes infected as well.

Treatment usually ranges from capital punishment, where an extremely diseased patient has to be killed to prevent further infection from eye contact with him; incarceration in a correctional facility for seemingly reformable victims; to counseling and re-education for young patients.

It is a very virulent disease - even those with religious education are unable to resist it. Immunity is limited to a select few. Currently, research is being taken on these healthy subjects to determine an effective vaccine and cure.

This symptom has been first reported at the beginning of the Spanish conquest, being introduced by the European Castillans in the 16th century. As to why records of this illness is non-existent in pre-Hispanic Philippines, it is because that Islamic treatment was truly effective. It is should be remembered that a considerable territory of the country was under Muslim influence. It was the practice to mete capital punishment in cases of kleptospirosis. For patients displaying the symptoms, mutilation was the cure. That is, chopping of the hands or feet was administered. In most extreme cases, beheading is exercised to prevent potentially serious outbreaks. The Muslim method is so effective that many have equated the disease to leprosy, where limb or bodily degeneration is associated with it. It thus was inculcated within their consciousness that kleptospirosis is a genuine health hazard. This prompted the Filipino Muslim citizenry to take preventive measures against infection by frequenting their local masjid (or mosque, the equivalent of the Christian church) and by also following principles outlined in their medical treatise, the Qu'ran.

Unfortunately, with the blind zeal of the Castillans to suppress established, native faiths (including Islam), the effective treatment measures have been almost forgotten. This practice has largely died out and is presently endangering Muslim bastions in the south.

Filipino Christian medical authorities are desperately trying to figure out how to contain this disease without the primitive harshness of the Muslim method. This has reached to the point where they looked towards Maoist medical expertise (where they have noted successes similar to that of the Muslims) but to no avail. They seemed to have observed that though the Beijing doctors guaranteed effective cures, the klepto pathogen they harbor is resistant to their own treatment measures. Lately, it has been reported that the resistant strain has spread over to the present population slowly rendering present measures ineffective. Thus, Filipino doctors are worried that the strain they carry can spread to other parts of the world, much like SARS. A glimmer of hope was found in the treatments of Dr. Chiang Ching-kuo, also a mainland native, whose measures have not only reduced the incidence of kleptospirosis but a host of other illnesses as well. Efforts are underway to re-create this miraculous cure-all. It is unfortunate that Dr. Chiang wasn't able to put to writing his research and methods but there is always hope for a way.

Dear readers, of course, the book and the author is a hoax. But then, if you wish to become a social doctor and write about our social ills to inspire future treatments and cures, you have free dibs on the idea. ;-)

*A coined term from the words, "glib" and "lips". It is also known as the "con man's tongue" or "snake oil salesman's mouth" syndrome. It is a sickness where the patient is compelled to speak sweetly and convincingly of a false truth with the intent of hoodwinking his fellow man.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Birth of Death

Just when would religious principles cause us more harm than good? When it starts to be irrational in the face of present circumstances.
H.R. Giger - "Birth Machine"; 1967, Ink on paper on wood, 170x110 cm


After Earth, Hell Comes

There is a very great drought! Fish in the sea, river and lake, boiled, hectic! A great famine do I see drawing near, turning from one way to another and becoming universal. A famine so great and so long that man shall become a man-eater!
- Nostradamus

Hollywood fantasy can often be prophetic. Some would be familiar with the film, "Soylent Green" starred by the late premiere actor, Charlton Heston (funny a young guy like me knows him). Being the couch potato that I am, a spate of late night cable movies happened to have his movie in the lineup. It was an interesting watch - and it brought to mind Nostradamus' famous quatrain (which I mentioned at the beginning). Considering the state of the world's ecology now, it can become a chilling reality. The greed of many top corporations hastens the time when there will be too little for so too many . It would come to a point when eating your neighbor would be commonplace - far worse than the zombies we so dread. Science has pointed out the various nutrients packed in human flesh: like iron, potassium, zinc, etc. Like cannibals, we would dine on fellow humans to survive. In the film, the old and invalid are exterminated then their remains processed into nutrient-packed biscuits (the infamous "Soylent Green") to feed a hungry future population. The young generation feeding on those rations would in turn become the future ingredients their descendants will feed on. Sanitized cannibalism. Even the weather right now is something that is a fraction of that in "The Day After Tomorrow". A spate of storms, flash floods, blizzards and the like curiously plagued us in 2012's advent. We would wonder if Hollywood is somehow beckoning us to heed its subliminal warnings.

As payment for man's transgression, Mother Nature belts out her fury in quick succession: the tragedies of Sendong and Undoy in the Philippines; ravaging bushfires in Australia and California; longer and harder drought spells in Africa and elsewhere. More torrid floods and freezing winters plagued some states in the US. A newer, more uncertain and harsher climate greets us in the present century.

Yet, the religions of the world exhort us - no, brainwash us - to churn out more children.

The Environmental Deficit
To date, we are 7 billion souls living off this chunk of rock. And the world becomes smaller each year as more families come to dot every livable square meter of land. As more humans multiply, more natural resources are consumed at a rapid rate.
It used to be that vast tracts of virgin rainforests dot the Amazon. From an early 80s satellite image of it, one can see miles of forest spread throughout - the trees color-coded a light rust brown. Now, huge swaths of red can be seen - the result of logging operations, legal and illegal. Older generations here in the Philippines reminisce how green the hills and mountains were in their youth. For Ilocanos of the north, the babyboomers remember the green tops that blanketed the mountains - that of Kalinga, Apayao and Bontoc among others. Now, they can shake their heads at their denudity - heralded by the bare brown on the mountainsides.
In Cebu, Philippines, the aquifers have lately become salty - the result of a burgeoning population draining the stored fresh water. When the fresh water is drained, seawater seeps in - the principle of osmosis at work. To solve it, the city's local government had to resort to desalinization facilities to purify the water.
At the turn of the 20th century, one would be puzzled by hearing the word "smog". Such a phenomenon was non-existent then. It was only in the 1940s was the word coined. The only fossil fuels then in use was coal but the pollution they caused was limited in scope. At the height of the industrial revolution, it was in cities that the effects of coal smoke are visible - especially in winter, when soot would fall with the snow blanketing the landscape a drab gray. It was unheard of in the countryside, and cities then were fewer. After a slew of inventors created a variety of internal combustion engines (coupled with the discovery and exploitation of crude oil), air pollution went in full swing. The worst recorded effect of it occurred in London in the late 40s. Tremendous amounts of car exhaust and factory smoke contributed to the zero visibility experienced by motorists on a foggy day. A considerable number of people with respiratory ailments saw themselves worsen at the height of the phenomenon. To describe it, they joined the words, "smoke" and "fog" into "smog" - a later addition to the English vocabulary.
To cap off the seriousness of air pollution's effects, last century's discovery of a huge ozone hole above the Antarctic - the result of centuries of using ozone depleting aerosols and gases- caused to melt the ice off the island and reveal expanses of green. The result may be pleasing but one should be reminded that the solar radiation levels there now are higher than normal. Every schoolboy knows that ozone helps to insulate the earth from harmful radiation emitted by the sun. Some chemicals (like CFCs - or chlorofluorocarbons) bind with the ozone and peel it off from the layer high in the atmosphere, causing its depletion. There is yet to be a way to restore the ozone to patch up the hole. But as years go by, the hole only grows wider and can threaten future areas unless serious measures are taken.

If the Church wants us to have more children, I don't know what the real reason is. I can only speculate but it both chills me to the bone and burns me to enumerate them. There are a hundred and one logical reasons why a present population boom is detrimental to us all but they still assert their reasons. They don't even realize they are also overstepping other principles of their creed when they insist on blind obedience. Whatever excuse they give, they are still accountable in the afterlife. Morality does not come from following the letter of the rule only - it comes from doing the obviously right thing at the moment. It is not following the law that makes one right but the motive of the act that determines it.

If I were God, I'd strike down the Christian priests continually demanding the faithful to have more kids. In His great wisdom, He would know how absurd it is to continue a doctrine that is out of touch with the present. Why bother with hell in the afterlife when you are creating your own hell in your lifetime? Their prudishness dangerously causes them and their flock to turn a blind eye to problems up ahead. Out of sheer fear, many religions exhort to cast aside reason and give way to blind obedience for its sake. It would be so liberating to shout at their faces how dumb they are. More babies to bear in this uncertain world? They only would grow up worse if that would be so. Better to have fewer people now to give time for the Earth to heal. Only then would we consider having more children. Yes, at some point men must taste hardship but there is a point when extreme hardship is unreasonable.

So God help us from those who exploit our faith.