ocieties the world over
have always been fascinated by wealth. And nowhere is this more evident than
in the Philippines today. In fact, Filipinos seem to have gone beyond
fascination to actual adoration of anyone with a lot of money. And such
adulation is at some level, understandable. In a country where corruption is
pervasive and everything—as well as everyone—appears to be for sale, money
will put you above the law. Unlike countries such as the United States where
even a billionaire could end up behind bars, in the Philippines, the rich
get away with murder—literally.
Therefore why not be rich? Makes
sense doesn’t it? So a vast number of Pinoys make it a point to get
rich—quick! And there lies the problem. It is easier to make money
illegally rather than legally. Break the law, stack the deck, grease the
palms, buy off the regulators, give kickbacks; the ways to accumulate wealth
the wrong way are endless. Sadly, the number of Filipinos making money
illegally appears to have increased alarmingly over the years.
It is therefore only
logical that not just the media but the average Juan and Juana start asking
rich people how they made their fortunes. For example how was Bureau of
Customs clerk Paulino Elevado IV whose take home pay was less than P6,000.00
a month able to drive around in a Porsche? Instead of being awed, Elevado’s
friends and relatives should have asked him how he managed such a feat.
Another example was Ferdinand Marcos. According to his wife Imelda, they had
a trillion dollars in their Citibank New York bank accounts. Assuming this
was not another one of Imelda’s fantasies, the public should have asked: how
did a poor boy from Batac who supposedly had a full-time job running an
entire country manage to amass more wealth than say Warren Buffett, a
renowned businessman who works full-time at it and employs an army of
top-flight investment advisers to help him out? How was Marcos able to
out-Buffett, Buffett—singlehandedly, and all the while doing it on the side?
Instead of being impressed
with the fancy new car, or the Rolex watch, or the opulent mansion of a
friend or relative, Pinoys ought to be asking them how they managed to
afford those luxuries. In fact the whole country should be asking the same
question of all these sudden millionaires who gain untold wealth without
anyone having the slightest clue of how they do it. The Philippine press
ought to be leading the charge instead of lionizing the rich as most media
outfits do today.
In the context of
Philippine society today, a healthy dose of skepticism towards individuals
who are making tons of money is not uncalled for. These folks need to pass
some kind of “acid test” before they can be embraced by the public. And
public servants who make money while in office ought to be hauled off to
The Philippines will need
to put in place exceptionally tough laws to combat corruption given the lack
of ethics and morality in our society. And until that day comes when the
country has been effectively cleansed of it, you and I and everyone else
need to be asking the rich this question: “how did you get to be so rich?”
It has been a dizzying drop from the euphoric highs of 2001 when Filipinos forced President Joseph Estrada from office and installed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in his place. Estrada was widely seen as a corrupt, philandering politician; a high school dropout who was unqualified to be president. Arroyo on the other hand had the pedigree, education, and morals—we all assumed—to handle the job.
While the Aquino administration has been making many of the right moves lately, such moves remain woefully inadequate given the situation the Philippines faces with China. If President Benigno Aquino III entertains any hope of keeping our islands in the Spratlys, he needs to get off his behind this minute and start building a strong coalition with other nations.
Why Bong Revilla Will Never Become President of the Philippines
A country's president must be a statesman. Someone who is genuinely concerned about the welfare of his people—especially those who have the least in life. A president must also be fair. Fairness after all underpins what justice is all about. Everyone, be they exceedingly wealthy or totally destitute deserves equal treatment under the law.
The Philippines Is Not a Friendly Place To Do Business In
On the surface, the Philippines can seem like an enjoyable and friendly place to do business. But scratch the surface and you’ll find yourself in a strange and alien world where a whole new set of rules and attitudes apply. Just recently, the Fraser Institute, a well-known North American think-tank, ranked the Philippines third from the bottom, on its annual survey of the best places to do business for mining companies.
To All Those Who Were Part of the EDSA People Power Revolution—Thank You!
On February 25, the Philippines will celebrate the 28th anniversary of the People Power revolution known as EDSA One. For four days in February, 1986, freedom-starved Filipinos amassed on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), in front of Camps Crame and Aguinaldo to shield Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile, General Fidel Ramos, and their military supporters from possible assault by forces controlled by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The Arc of the Moral Universe and the Salvador “Bubby” Dacer Case
How long before the people responsible for the Dacer-Corbito murders are brought to justice? The hopeful answer may be found in a speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol on March 25, 1965 when he said: "How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever. How long? Not long, because you shall reap what you sow. How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
Will Ruby Tuason’s Revelations Make a Difference? Remember This Is the Philippines
Another whistleblower Ruby Tuason will soon testify before the Department of Justice, and the Philippine Senate. And probably before the Ombudsman, the Batasan committees, the Sandiganbayan and other courts as well. Her appearances will likely involve high drama, moving testimony, and bombshell revelations that will be plastered across the front pages of Philippine dailies and reverberate throughout social media.
Macho, Macho Men and the Matriarchal Philippine Society
An online article a week ago concluded that the reason that Deniece Cornejo the vixen in the Vhong Navarro mauling incident was being mercilessly vilified was because Philippine society tends to treat women that way (LINK). The writer a certain Tricia Aquino in collaboration with Judy Taguiwalo a University of the Philippines professor in the Department of Women and Development Studies, try to paint a bleak picture of Filipina women as persecuted second-class citizens who end up being blamed for the troubles that befall them.
We Must Learn from the Past, for the Future of Mindanao
Will the signing of the last annex of the peace accord between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) finally bring lasting peace to troubled Mindanao? Everyone hopes so. But let’s go back several decades in time and see how the country fared in a similar situation back then.