Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Kristian S. Cordero

Chinese have a better way on looking at a crisis that we can learn as we brave another political storm that has besieged our country. Crisis is both an opportunity and a danger. Danger should be read accurately to prevent further havocs while opportunity should be seized to do something extraordinary. In the last few days, we have been trying to grapple this serious political issue that involves the highest leader of the land—no less than the president herself. I am one of those who believe that we need to purge ourselves to be able to start and forge a better nation for ourselves and for the future generations.

In his pastoral letter read last Sunday, Archbishop Legaspi reiterated the call of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to restore moral values in Philippine government. The Dominican bishop made a clarion call for the present government to take into serious consideration the various cases hurled against her wrecked administration—the issue of an alleged election fraud, the illegal gambling involving some members of his immediate family and our historic failure to come up with an economic agenda that will alleviate our people from their sad plight of poverty and miseries. The archbishop also admitted that the church in some ways particularly the members of the hierarchy have contributed to the confusion, division and decline of moral standards in our people. The church is so many ways has failed to practice their solidarity with the poor.

Surprisingly, the bishops did not ask for an immediate resignation of the incumbent president despite of massive protests against her. The prelates had reached a seemingly collective decision and have taken the path of shepherding rather than interfering in the decaying state of Philippine politics. They have waged another battle not to combat certain individuals in power but to vanquish this cultural malaise as Jesuit Nem Gonzales aptly called it.

Our political crisis is one of the many results of our cultural malaise as a people. We need to purge this sad republic away from our inept and traditional politicians that have sabotaged and plundered us. As a people we have to undergo a collective experience that we will come to realize that nothing is left for us except ourselves—our people. How can we think of poverty when we know that there is burgeoning elite that controls and monopolizes the riches of the land? How can we solve poverty when it means nothing but an apostolate of the church and her charitable institutions that are not also free from corruption and greed?
I was a high school graduating student when the centennial fever caught us. We were made to look back at the glorious page of our history when our so-called national heroes have declared their independence against foreign colonizers, the first to become a modern republic in this part of the world, and yet I feel that after several years, life in this country has become more impoverished.

I come to believe that this country is still very far, at the very least from a true democratic state. We are the best example of what the ancient Greek philosophers had feared—that is democracy at its worst. Our state is not considered a moral agent in our society. The church has also been accused of conspiracy with the oligarchy that tops the lists of mass donors and benefactors. We do not practice collective act of unselfishness. We still think from a regionalist point of view. We are not yet a nation. Nationhood is still a dream waiting to become true for all of us. We do not have a collective conscience that will serve as our moral bond. The Philippines given its hundred years of struggle against foreign powers has never really gone beyond in forming true citizens of the land. Foreign rules still dictate and intervene in our internal affairs. We still wait for what will the United States of America will say regarding our government. We have never really grown. We still cling to our foreign colonizers and look at them as mothers and messiahs. These foreign aggressors have succeeded in colonizing us. They have turned our selves to become our own worst enemies to battle against with. They have crushed our self-esteem. We hardly know ourselves.

My father who works in a shipping line in the U.S. shared with me an unsurprising story. In their place of work, they call themselves Filipinos when introduced to foreigners and yet when it comes among them, they become distinct and distant individuals—Kapampangans, Ilonggos, Bikolanos, etc. His story made me realize that we still draw our identities from our tribal lineage which served as our pre-colonial and political communities. Hence, even now, we still imagine ourselves as members of particular clan, member of this family—we have the buena familia instead of having citizens of this country. Ginebra played well in their advertisement and got a high number of loyal supporters to their basketball team because of their Barangay Ginebra campaign. We are very responsible, responsive and sensitive when it comes to family matters and yet remain indifferent to the social issues that affect one and all. This is why corruption and poverty is prevalent in our society. We have settled with lesser evils when we could have chosen the good. These lesser evils have grown and become the worst evil, the mother of lies and the worst nightmare we ever had.

Institutions like the Church and the Media should play a pivotal role in purging the nation. We need a church that practices what it teaches and a media that is only liable to the truth and not to any individuals. Archbishop Legaspi and his fellow bishops have taken their stand. Let their faithful Catholics become stalwarts of change and development in this country. Ironically, majority of our population are Catholics and yet we are enlisted as second most corrupt country in the world. We voted into office Marcos and Estrada, world-known tyrants and corrupt leaders. The Church, the same way with the president should take radical steps to become more relevant to the lives of the people particularly the poor. And for the media, it should actively engage by providing new language, new vision in which we shall all see ourselves and our roles for this country. Only then when we purge ourselves, our local communities can we start forging a country that we can really call ours.

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