Is anybody crazier than Filipinos? (What Elections 2016 is not all about)

Published on by Vincent Ragay under

House Chaos

How crazy can crazy get?

For Filipinos, craziness is a personal hobby, a social amusement and a lucrative profession. Some of the craziest (also happiest) people live in these islands because they have the ability to twist things — sublime or profane.

You’ve heard of crazy-cut marble flooring, no? Well, look at the map of the Philippines and you know what that means. Almost all islands fit snugly into each other; for instance, Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar islands seem like they broke off from one previously big chunk of land. But, in reality, culturally and historically, there exist stark differences between these six Visayan islands. Panay and Negros Occidental speak Ilonggo while Negros Oriental speaks Bisaya (or Cebuano), although the Ilonggos have their own variations of the same theme. Cebu speaks a slightly different Cebuano from that of Negros Oriental and Bohol. Leyte speaks another Visayan dialect which differs from that of Samar’s Waray dialect. A mountain range or a narrow strait produced at least four or five distinct dialects, not to mention that of the aboriginal dwellers who speak their own dialect! And we are talking only of six islands among 7,000. How all these came to be in a small country such as this is unbelievable! Babel was confusing but not as fragmented as this.

Today, Filipinos spend a part of their free time laughing at their weird neighbors in other islands or even in their neighboring regions. The Ilocanos up North cannot get use to how the southern Ilocanos of La Union and Pangasinan pronounce their “e” with a schwa while they use a non-schwa version. And vice-versa! The differences between the many dialects become fodder for many jokes and, sometimes, for insults cast among these diverse polyglots. Professional comedians help make this reality an entertaining pastime, which includes the way Filipinos speak English, Australian and other languages. Others do it, too; but Filipinos are so fixated with it that a majority find it unfashionable to speak English using one’s dialect’s accent or pronunciation. So many Filipinos even admit to knowing English better than they do their own language.

Time will run out if we listed down all the crazy things Filipinos do or the insane ways they do things. Just a few, perhaps: how they drive (breaking all possible rules), how they celebrate Holy Week (when some actually flog themselves or get nailed to a cross), how long they celebrate Christmas (from September to January!), how they make money (kidnapping foreigners for ransom or planting bullets into travellers’ luggage for a payoff) and how they campaign (by buying votes for political positions that bring them power and wealth beyond measure).

The last introduces us to the craziest moment in the life of Filipinos: presidential election period. The high-stakes contest between candidates spreads among the populace in a rising crescendo that remains even after winners have been announced. As the saying goes, no one loses in Philippine elections; you only lose the count because the other candidate cheated. Shameful and crazy!

What is even crazier is that before the election proper arrives, winners are already “proclaimed”, either by surveys or by candidates themselves. For as one of the candidates confidently said, “I am going to win this election!” He has already prejudged the people’s vote – no, even God, Who alone can decide the outcome. Vox candidatus, vox populi et vox Dei! You have got to be crazy! Still, nothing beats the craziness of the possibility that the guy might actually win because he has been campaigning from the moment he got his present position in government.

But wait! What’s crazier is that the same guy and his entire family of politicians have been charged with corruption and stealing government funds. (He remains innocent until proven guilty, supposedly. Sounds sane enough; but when you have talked to one of his waiters at his posh resort who confirmed his ownership of the place – among other prime properties, proving his enormous unexplained wealth — you realize you would be crazy to believe his claims to innocence — or to sanity.) And yet, people will vote for him for many silly reasons: because he gives out cakes on people’s birthdays (guess where the money comes from) or because he supposedly “made” a very rich city become richer (guess who also became richer). Duh!

We must be all crazy to believe that elections (the way we do it, especially) will solve our problems! Changing leaders will not. Why? Because the government does not control everything that happens in our lives, let alone in government. Which means, as we have proven, the laws and the principles behind them (e.g., innocence or guilt, dura lex, sed lex, etc.) are mainly invented or contrived to suit the needs of the times and the people who run government. Even the constitution cannot cover all that humans need to address, especially when it comes to such issues as marriage, ancestral land control and religious beliefs. Why should it, when God Himself abolished the very laws He gave to His chosen nation. “Rule of law” looks very attractive to many; but the law convicts or kills. You may be innocent of many laws but could be guilty of a few others.
God has spoken: Enough with laws! Love is all we need. Sounds crazy; but consider the source.

It might be a crazy thing to say; but even present-day Israel which purports to be the reconstituted chosen nation of God still subscribes to the Torah, the very compendium of laws already abolished by God, as the apostles taught. Israelis come close to Filipinos in craziness, in that sense. They, at least, do it out of habit, if not from historical pride/blindness. Filipinos do it out of fun and also, most of the time, for money. Remember: hobby, amusement and profession? That explains why many actors win elections here. The lines blur; and reality and fantasy merge into one crazy existence where comedy and fancy bring relief from the horror and suffering – diverting people from their troubles with thrill and drama in a numbing continuum.

Christians will lambast me for saying that the duly-constituted laws and government do not always serve God, as Paul wrote once. (John the Baptist comes to mind – he lost his head to Herod, whom he accused of adultery.) Yes, government is designed to serve God’s purposes, whatever those purposes may be. Whether we actually know that it serves God or not, government is there to fulfill God’s plan, for good or ill. But it is one thing to be deceived as the Israelis are; it is another thing to be trustful of people who run government as if they truly are servants of God when they are, in fact, servants of Mammon. Paul said the king bears the sword to wield it and to impose punishment upon the evil-doers. But when the wicked run government or they steal from the people, that government ceases to be legitimate even if it is still serves the purpose of God (to awaken the people from their complacency and ignorance). When the government turns evil, as it often does, God’s people, like Moses and the Hebrews, have the right to sue for change to turn the tide (pun unintended).

It would be crazy to say that a government that deserts its soldiers during a battle and lets them be massacred, or shoots down unarmed, innocent farmers during a protest rally, deserves God’s compassion or the people’s respect. Or that it continues to represent God as an obedient minister of His. Paul might as well have said, ”Shoot the evil-doers, not the innocent people!” And, “Shoot the godless enemies firing at your soldiers, not abandon them!” Today, people cry out, “Change must come!”

But, crazy as Filipinos are, many choose not to listen to the voices of change. After all, if everyone in this country is crazy, who do we trust to lead us? If a government has gone caput or is run by dimwits, do we, crazy Filipinos, not deserve it? It is a crazy question itself!

My friend Matthew Raymer will never use the word “crazy” to describe politicians who remain in power in spite of the fact that they have lost all sense of rationality or integrity. Or even those who plan to run for any position for that matter; for to him, as it was for Socrates and Mark Twain, politics is for psychotics — a fancy word for crazy people. I agree. A person has to be psychotic enough to put himself or herself in a position that is not meant for humans to assume. For the task of leading people belongs to God alone.

When Moses called upon Pharaoh, he spoke Gods word, “Let My people go!” It was God Who showed wonders through Moses, not Moses doing the miracles. And when the Israelites, later on, begged God for a king, God rebuked them by saying, “I am Your King!” Hence, today, those who call themselves kings or presidents or princes or supreme leaders are nothing but usurpers. You know what would be a really crazy title to have? Servant! Minister has acquired a certain “honor” due to its political usage. And most people who use that honorific often bear that air of superiority or pride, whether they realize it or not.

Still, the crazier option is to call yourself nothing at all. What are titles but claims to positions or abilities best served and deserved through proper use for the good of others and not for yourself? The foolishness (or craziness) of God is higher than the wisdom of humans. There you go! Even God admits that His “craziness” is actually better than the best we can offer; and that includes our pretensions to service, leadership or governance. Indeed, much good has been done by people who recognized their great skills and wisdom had been granted to them by Heaven. For God often shows His wisdom by using the foolish things of this world, crazy as that may sound. If so, why do we question God when He does use a supposedly crazy person to fulfill His plans?

Humans choosing humans during an election is a crazy, failed system. Even from the beginning, democracy never was rational. Why? Because it is God Who chooses and promotes. Sure, He allows elections just as He allowed divorce and kings; but, in reality, He remains omnipotent and rules over us in spite of our failed systems, false religions and corrupt governments. Humans will never become righteous rulers over either righteous or unrighteous citizens. It is all a crazy arrangement created by our fallen estate. Even Socrates expressed his contempt for democracy for “it did not require proof of special knowledge in its leaders”. At least, for monarchies, courage and brilliance were primary prerequisites. Nevertheless, David and Solomon, two of the most prominent kings of ancient Israel, were immoral persons (one a killer, the other a multiple-womanizer) who found favor in God’s eyes in their youth for the sake of His people but literally lost their minds as adults because of their disobedience. Their courage and their intelligence could not save them and their kingdom from their sins before God. Only God’s love and mercy could.

As Diana Prince (Wonder Woman said): “A hundred years ago I walked away from mankind; from a century of horrors… Men made a world where standing together is impossible.” Democracy was meant to unite a people, not to divide them. Yet, every time election comes, it breaks this broken archipelago apart into tinier and tinier chunks. And the crazy cuts hurt even more deeply as they multiply. To continue to use a system that has failed so many times is crazy. Unlike Wonder Woman, we cannot afford to wait a hundred years for change to come.

Our best option is to go back to God and let Him rule over our lives individually. Then and only then will He let us see our folly and bring us to a level where we can be like Him and we will then no longer need to be led here and there by anyone but by God alone. This has been the plan all along; but we have missed it because we are unwise enough to think we know better than God.

That may sound as flimsy as a utopian dream; but it is the ultimate work of God not taught or considered by many today or in the past. Paradise was a real place — another wild divine idea. Yet, that is where it all began: all the craziness, not to mention ALL the goodness. We had it so good before folly and pride came. Today, we boast of our own humanity and our capabilities; but that is where all the sins came from. We have forgotten that we are truly children of God, created in His image. But in our madness, we have forgotten how to behave like His children.

Instead, we behave like children of the devil. Yes, crazy as the devil is crazy who thinks he can take the place of God. Nothing and nobody can beat that immense folly. We only follow the example in lesser degrees, stepping on each other’s toes in the process. But crazy we will remain, till we see how pathetic we really are in the sight of God.

So, as Philippine elections come closer, we see more stabbing in the back and stepping of toes in the media. Everyone wants his or her candidate raised higher than those of others, forgetting the fact that the whole process is but God’s concession to us for fulfilling His real plan, whatever that may be. And who can know that plan?

Ferdinand Marcos served as president for 20 years, 9 years of which were under Martial Law. In 1986, the peaceful EDSA Revolution finally toppled his dictatorial regime and he and his family were transported by US military forces to Hawaii where he eventually died. EDSA remains one of the most celebrated political events in the world, reminiscent of the non-violent protests in India led by Mahatma Gandhi which finally ended British rule over that large nation.

Since Marcos left, the Philippines has remained a fledgling Asian nation although it has attained one of the fastest economic growth-rates under the present Aquino administration. In spite of that boast, many remain unemployed and millions continue to struggle to meet decent subsistence levels. The general consensus aired in this electoral contest is for a drastic change to stop widespread corruption, criminality and the unabated illegal-drug menace. And to add to the country’s woes, poised on this archipelago are the gigantic claws of China which have managed to methodically grab small islands in the oil-and-gas-rich West Philippine Sea, dangerously close to home and well within the country’s 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone jurisdiction.

Each one of the present candidates has something to offer in response to the many problems and challenges of the nation, even the thorny China issue. Diplomacy is the common answer to the latter, that is, following up the petition filed with the International Arbitral Tribunal at The Hague, protesting China’s claims. However, one of the presidential candidates gave a surprising comment as to the last resort to be taken if diplomacy fails. He said that he would personally carry a flag and plant it on the disputed islands. Crazy enough to merit laughter among the rest of the debaters and the audience! Ironically, there is wisdom in that inspired crazy plan.

Imagine if not just the president, if he ever wins, but also a million or more Filipinos and other sympathetic Asian nationals who also have claims on the disputed islands, carried a flag each and planted it on the islands claimed by China, then we would be staging an extrajudicial peaceful action of protest and demand against the unilaterally aggressive acts of China, the Bully. If China fires upon the protesters, the way it did to Vietnamese fishermen who dared plant flags on disputed islands once, then it better have enough bullets; for our country must not sit still while its sovereignty has been compromised in clear violation of international laws. If China is crazy enough to do such things, then Filipinos can be crazy enough to sacrifice their lives for a great cause, as the candidate himself revealed his long-time dream to become a hero.

If Filipinos are to live up to their names as the people who gave the world EDSA, they should be able to give the world WEST PHILIPPINE SEA (WPS), another peaceful demonstration of our right to our national sovereignty. When international law will not come to our aid, we alone as a people — crazy as we are and will always be, perhaps — must carry the burden of defending our territorial rights, our resources and our freedom.

And if God be the source of this final solution to the China dispute, then He will provide a way to make it happen the way He has always done for our country time and time again. For as long as His people in these islands submit to His word and counsel, He will not forsake our desires and our prayers for our nation’s sake. Implementing this plan may seem like hastening World War 3 (hence, the craziness of it all); however, God will not leave our country defenseless against the might of the rampaging Chinese giant. All of God’s people all over the world will come to our aid and help show this proud, blinded and God-defying bully Who he is dealing with. We may have no army and no navy to pit against China’s military might; but God’s army all over the world and the Father in the heavenly realms Himself will come to our defense to fulfill His promise to His people who are crazy enough to trust in Him. And then all nations will recognize that God is the only source of true power and authority.

The present elections address not just economic, social and political issues vital to the survival of the Filipinos but also global and geo-political issues that determine how the future community of nations must deal with each other in the tightening claws of evil and greed darkening the minds and souls of deluded and godless people, rulers and imperialists. China’s claws are firmly embedded in the Philippines at present: in the chromite mines in Zambales and other mining sites in other parts of the country, in the growing illegal-drug trade and in the hearts and minds of politicians who kowtow to China’s wishes. Just as the British empire once promoted opium trade all over Asia (including the Philippines), China has now taken the role for itself and added new vile tricks in its deep arsenal of imperialistic pursuits. And that includes mining our treasures and carrying away the mine tailings to reclaim the sea around the islands they have grabbed from us. And Filipinos (our politicians) are mindless enough to allow this to happen. Who is dumber: the thief or the one who willingly allows himself to be robbed?

The Philippines may be one of the tiniest nations in the world; but we must not forget that we serve and honor a BIG God Who created the Universe and Who will not let His people be kicked around for whatever reasons there may be. We will sue for peace and justice as much as we can in the human courts of law. But we will, most of all, pray for protection and vindication in the heavenly courts of God. Anyone who will defy God will discover how crazy they really are to oppose Him.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of humans. And the weakness of God is mightier than the strength of humans. This showdown, if it ever happens, will usher in the final revelation of the true nature of our Creator and bring people to the realization that He rules as King of Kings and Ruler of Rulers all along.

The coming election is not about stopping corruption or eliminating criminality or solving the drug problem. As Bruce Wayne (Batman) also said, “Criminals are like weeds, Alfred; pull one up, another grows in its place. This is about the future of the world. This is (our) legacy.” We vote against the evils of this world. We vote against the enemies of God, inside and outside our territorial boundaries. We vote against the partition of our nation into political turfs to serve the whims of the wealthy and powerful. We vote for the future of this land and the generations to come. We vote for God and His plan for our beloved country.

Elections, we must repeat, are made by and for humans. But any country’s destiny is defined and controlled by the power of God. Who we choose matters less than how we choose to follow God’s plan for our lives on a daily basis, not just on Election Day. Candidates talk and talk; and they promise and promise. Voters will also talk and talk; and they will also defend and defend. This is human craziness at its best, Philippine-style. Cover your ears from all the talk and all the noise; and listen to God. In the end, God will have the final say and the final act. We merely follow how we were taught and led to believe – either by others or by God.

Do we really know God enough to know Who He is and what He wants us to do? As a Filipino, I must admit how crazy we are as a people at times. And yet, I believe we are this way because we have been blessed with so much that we do not know how to use them properly. We claim to be religious or pious and yet do not really lead godly lives. Unless we change this attitude, we will miss the chance of showing the world what we have, what we are and what we are capable of giving to the world. We should all know by now.

Are we willing to become fools for God? We have only our lives to lose and Heaven to gain. Divine folly is much, much higher than human wisdom (including, most especially, so-called Philippine democrazy).

(Photos above: Go to a beach and this could well be the scene: Makeshift huts and permanent houses so close to one another, vying for space that their roofings overlap and pose as fire hazards. And with everyone having a videoke machine blaring as each family or group belts it out, you hear nothing but a cacophony of voices and music oppressing your ears and your mind till the wee hours of the morning. Only in the Philippines!)

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