Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Damaged Culture

"A Damaged Culture" is an article published in The Atlantic in 1987. It is a must read for anyone interested in delineating the reasons for the economic and political failure of the Philippines. It is a an "essay on how a culture of dependence and corruption should be held responsible for the despairing conditions of America’s (former and sole) Asian colony, the Philippines."  An article from 2013 titled "Why the Philippines Failed" references the Atlantic article thereby accepting the fact that nothing has changed and the Philippines remains a failed nation.

Below I have posted a paragraph that sums up a lot of what is in the article.  The author discusses the ousting of Marcos and the newly elected Corazon Aquino as well as Smoky Mountain and what it says about the Filipino spirit. He also touches on the sharp divide between rich and poor.  His main thesis is "a failure of nationalism," a real nationalism that embraces all your countrymen not just those within the family circle and then boasts emptily of a love for country, is to blame for the problems in the Philippines. Read the whole article for yourself and reflect on how little has really and fundamentally changed in thirty years.  

"For more than a hundred years certain traits have turned up in domestic descriptions and foreign observations of Philippine society. The tradition of political corruption and cronyism, the extremes of wealth and poverty, the tribal fragmentation, the local elite’s willingness to make a separate profitable peace with colonial powers—all reflect a feeble sense of nationalism and a contempt for the public good. Practically everything that is public in the Philippines seems neglected or abused. On many street corners in downtown Manila an unwary step can mean a broken leg. Holes two feet square and five feet deep lurk just beyond the curb; they are supposed to be covered by metal grates, but scavengers have taken the grates to sell for scrap. Manila has a potentially beautiful setting, divided by the Pasig River and fronting on Manila Bay. But three-fourths of the city’s sewage flows raw into the Pasig, which in turns empties into the bay; the smell of Smoky Mountain is not so different from the smell of some of the prettiest public vistas. The Philippine telephone system is worse than its counterparts anywhere else in non-communist Asia—which bogs down the country’s business and inconveniences its people—but the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company has a long history of high (and not reinvested) profits. In the first-class dining room aboard the steamer to Cebu, a Filipino at the table next to mine picked through his plate of fish. Whenever he found a piece he didn’t like, he pushed it off the edge of his plate, onto the floor. One case of bad manners? Maybe, but I’ve never seen its like in any other country. Outsiders feel they have understood something small but significant about Japan’s success when they watch a bar man carefully wipe the condensation off a bottle of beer and twirl it on the table until the label faces the customer exactly. I felt I had a glimpse into the failures of the Philippines when I saw prosperous-looking matrons buying cakes and donuts in a bakery, eating them in a department store, and dropping the box and wrappers around them as they shopped." 

No comments:

Post a Comment