Sunday, November 07, 2004

Philippines: The Slave Nation

By Alex Argote


Rising out of the vast and turbulent Pacific ocean is archipelago of several thousand-island that were born under the most unfortunate of stars in the whole universe. These islands straddling the devil's place comprise a cursed nation that is forever maligned and reviled among the "enlightened and civilized" countries of the world.

It is a nation of a strange people that is continually at war with itself and made itself the laughingstock of the entire "civilized" world. If anything, the country and its confused people seemed to exist on a different plane, its citizen's collective thinking contradicts every aspect of the poor country's tragic and bloody history, in a sense, the whole national thinking and attitude is horribly immature and outrageously ungrateful.

As a Filipino, I write my first blog-novel with bitterness and heavy heart For it is about the misfortunes of my hapless country, The Philippines, otherwise branded as the nation of thieves and prostitutes and mail-order-brides. Indeed, our country is not shown respect anywhere in the world since we are already steriotyped as a sub-race fit to be just lowly servants and therefore no right to have national pride and honor. I dont expect to finish it, nor be able to expunge even half of the unasimillated ideas in my mind owing to my immediate personal concerns and problems. I'm just an ordinary and struggling workingman here in Mindanao eking out a desperate existence and gnashing in bitterness at the unfair circumstances of this world.

Is it my struggle or just the collective thinking of millions of marginalized Filipinos who are slowly emerging from the abyss of ignorance and pain and suffering to march in unison against the spoiled princes and royalty who are living in comfort and evil vice in their opulent palaces. I think and forever remind myself that all this iniquity and gap between the fithy-rich and the poor should one day end. This cannot go on forever, no matter how long it takes, no matter how many lives be lost, something must change and bring prosperity to the Philippines and good standard of living to every Filipino. Thus the main and sole of purpose of this novel is to try to stir the long-suffering masses to rise and unite in overthrowing the present governmental system which is inimical to national recovery and greatness.

As every patriotic Filipino knows and understands, our present system is totally ineffective and inutile in almost every aspect of governance. The painful truth is that the present Philippine government is at its best very oppressive to the poor, struggling masses and favorable to the wealthy elite and foreigner warlord/business/capitalists who hold sway over the lowly and wretched Filipino commoners. And we have one of the most corrupt bureaucracy in the world. Graft and corruption is so rampant that it just numbs the national mindset into utter shock and paralysis. From the corridors of power in the congress and Malacanang palace to the ranks of the armed forces and down to the smallest governmental units of town and barios there is wanton corruption going on even as I bash away my frustrations on the dusty keyboard of a computer terminal. Even the academic institutions are definitely not exempt from this national cancer that slowly gnaws and tears our already torn society away.

Only very recently the entire nation was rocked anew by scandals in the highest echelons of the Philippine military involving an official who aledgedly pocketed large sums of money intended for the procurement of military supplies and various other accusations. But everyone knows that it is only the tip of the iceberg. Indeed the Philippine military is so riddled and weakened with corruption and graft that it is never in a position to effectively defend the country in the event of foreign invasion. Filipino soldiers are more often than not ill-equipped and can only go to battle with the most antiquated weapons and equipment. The Phillipine airforce only has vintage Tora-tora fighter planes which can never defend the entire archipelago from any aerial attack. The Navy is in no better shape to even counter a massive pirate raid on the shores of Palawan or the garbage-strewn Manila bay. To add insult to injury, there are allegations of Philippine navy vessels being used in the illicit drug trade and illegal logging by some enterprising entrepreneurs in uniform.

The entire bureaucracy is in an even degrading status. At present, the government is so plagued by fiscal crisis that is worsening day by hopeless day. It is because only the poor members of the workingclass honetly pay taxes while the spoiled wealthy elite do not. It is common knowledge that many BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) high officials enjoy unexplained riches that are not commensurate with their salaries and incentives. On the other hand, social security systems like SSS and GSIS use their members' hard-earned contributions to finance foreign-owned corporations that often shabily treat their low-wage Filipino employees who slave every day for mere pittance.

Given the above circumstances, it is understandable therefore that Filipinos by the hundreds of thousands struggle to out of our hapless to seek their fortunes in other unknown shores-and often come back in cold coffins. The country's country's economy is so depressed that it can no longer sustain the ever-increasing ranks of new graduates who will be seeking for work in cash-strapped companies and various businesses.