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Kim Trump summit photo

 

 

Of course, I am referring to the unprecedented (and hilariously touchy-feely) meeting between US President Donald J. Trump (formerly known as ‘Dotard’ as far as the North Koreans were concerned) and North Korean leader Kim Jung-un (formerly known as ‘Rocketman’ according to Trump himself) in Singapore a few days ago.  And the simple and stark document (supposedly long on motherhood statements and short on details) regarding the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula signed by both leaders before they each left for different destinations.

 

The proverbial ink on the document was still wet yet complaints and sour-graping in many parts of the United States slowly rose in a crescendo.  A number complained that the US inexplicably backed down from its initial position of securing a complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization (aka CVID) commitment from Kim.  Others said meeting Kim on such a prominent world stage was a major win for the latter and his bid to legitimize his country and oppressive regime officiated by no less than the leader of the so-called free world.    In fact, Kim also secured an invitation from Trump to visit the White House very soon.  A few focused on Trump’s faux pas when he saluted a North Korean general after the latter saluted him rather than shake his proferred hand.  Before long, cable TV commentators started characterizing Trump no longer a bully but now a ‘pussy cat’.

 

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/06/12/politics/what-really-came-out-of-the-trump-kim-summit/index.html

 

As if that was not enough, many (specially in Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo) were alarmed by Trump’s unilateral cancellation of joint US-South Korean military exercises in his solo press conference after his meeting with Kim, ostensibly for economic reasons.  For this reason, newly-designated Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had to assure American allies that Trump did not give away too much to Kim and that sanctions will be lifted only after denuclearization had been completed ( See http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/diplomacy/article/2150404/mike-pompeo-calls-counterparts-japan-and-south-korea-brief-them and https://edition.cnn.com/2018/06/13/politics/pompeo-north-korea-verification/index.html).  

 

One must ask:  What can be reasonably expected from a five-hour meeting that was almost scuttled at the 11th hour?  

My answer:  what resulted!

President Trump, I believe, won’t get cheated of his media moment, by insisting on a long document that lists all the doables on both sides (more particularly by the North Koreans) and the corresponding detailed timetable.  Those particulars must be sweated out by diplomatic teams on both sides.  If and when such a detailed agreement is ready, expect another and a more spectacular summit between Trump and Kim.  Perhaps by that time, both may have been nominated for (or have even won) the Nobel Peace Prize.  For Trump, preferably that second summit will happen before the midterm elections or at least before his term ends.  Kim meanwhile is prepared for the long haul.

 

So, we just have to wait and see.  Who knows?  Drafts of that detailed agreement may be subject of talks between the two sides when Kim visits the White House soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Trump Kim summit picture

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written with Professor Joseph Capuno of the UP School of Economics

 

 

 

Bonifacio and Katipunan

 

Introduction

It is the common belief among Filipinos that we are freedom-loving and that we prefer democracy over all other political arrangements.  This belief supposedly stems from a long history of rebelliousness against centuries of Spanish, American and Japanese colonialism.  In recent years, the preference for democracy and freedom was supposedly affirmed by the struggle against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos from 1972 to 1986 and was consolidated in the national psyche by the EDSA I people power phenomenon.  This narrative has been the staple of Filipino pop culture–movies, television serials, radio drama, literature and the like.

 

Bud Bajo massacre

American soldiers posing with killed Moro insurgents in the Bud Bajo massacre (Source: https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/moro-insurgents-1906/)

 

Filipino anti-Japanese guerillas in Mindanao

Filipino anti-Japanese guerillas in Mindanao.  See http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/981299/more-ph-war-files-not-yet-accessible

However, scholarly opinion differs from this popular perception.  Apparently, Filipinos depend on their betters, bow to power, and prefer to be led by a strong and forceful leader, one even willing to brush aside the legal niceties to get things done, and quickly.  

There is a strong literature on a ‘big men’ tradition in Southeast Asia and elsewhere (Abinales 2000, Alagappa 1995, Bayart 1993, Bratorry and van de Walle, Brown 1990, Clapham 1982, Ellen 2011, Ileto 2007, Hagesteijn and van de Velde 1996, Kathirithamby-Wells 1986, Kulke 1986, Sahlins 1963, Soenarno 1960, and Wolters 1999).  Native terms—orang besar (big men) and orang kaya (rich men) were developed.  The American Southeast Asianoligist, Wolters (1999) offered the term ‘men of prowess’.  The pioneering Filipino political scientist Remigio Agpalo (1973) asserted that Filipinos respect and fear authority and subscribe to a leader who called the shots.  Agpalo indigenized the Platonic ‘medicinal lie’ and formulated his so-called organic-hierarchical paradigm. In Plato’s writings on the role of different men in society, he likened merchants and farmers to the stomach of a person and the soldiers to the arms.  For Plato, the rulers of a society correspond to the head or brains.  Later, Agpalo will call his paradigm the Pangulo regime (with ulo referring to the head).  Even if Agpalo was obviously responding to the strength and charisma of the then newly-installed dictator Marcos, he may not be blamed since some 30 million Filipinos (given a few exceptions such as the Communists and Bangsa Moro insurgents) docilely accepted the Marcosian New Society under the joint leadership and reign of Malakas II (Ferdinand) and Maganda II (Imelda).

 

Remigio Agpalo

Prof. Remigio Agpalo

 

The play “Fake” by Floy Quintos (directed by Tony Mabesa) reminded one of William Henry Scott’s demolition of the efforts of the antiquarian Juan Marco of Pontevedra, Negros–not far from Bacolod City, not far from the fabled convent of Frayle Pavon–whose manuscripts that referred to the now-discredited Code of Kalantiaw, were earlier considered evidence of ancient pre-colonial civilizations complete with strong leaders and penal codes.

 

Fake by Floy Quintos

 

 

 

Earlier, Lande (1964) recast the ‘big men’ as the patrons in a super-ordinate relationship with subordinate clients.

Carl Lande

Professor Carl Herman Lande

The classic patron-client relationship is that between the landlord and his landless tenant.  Related to the ‘big men’ literature is an equally rich one on the role of prominent families and clans in Philippine politics best exemplified by McCoy (1999) and Simbulan (2005).  Sidel (1999) meanwhile, highlighted the ubiquity of threats, armed violence, and fraud in the rise and demise of local strong men in Philippine politics.

Immediately after the EDSA 1986 People Power Revolution, an American journalist,  James Fallows, (writing in The Atlantic Monthly) referred to the Filipinos’ damaged culture, a play on the lethal mix of almost-400 years in a “Spanish convent” and 40 years in an “American whorehouse or bordello”  (For this, please click https://www.theatlantic.com/…/11/a-damaged-culture/505178/ ).  He noted the divergence from formal institutions and de facto  behavior.  Fallows argued that Filipinos from all walks of life are not nationalistic and do not have national pride, unlike its Asian neighbors.  he went on to say that this cultural flaw is the main reason why Philippine society will remain in a muddle and economic growth will continue to be middling.

De Dios (2008) revisits the question in his inquiry into the institutional constraints to Philippine economic growth. Among other factors, he also draws attention to the same phenomenon, this time called cognitive dissonance, the divergence between formal institutions and actual practice and that this divergence from rules creates ‘pathologies’ such as corruption, boom-and-bust economic cycles, and political instability, among others.  De Dios goes further and explains why the divergence exists: coexistence of foreign and indigenous institutions and corresponding world-views, which look at the same practice differently. For instance, Westerners may call it corruption while Filipinos and other Asians would simply consider it gift-giving or grease (padulas) to facilitate transactions especially between strangers. Westerners insist on impersonal, arms-length relationships while Filipinos are socialized to valorize the family.  Former UPSE Dean Prof. Raul Fabella weighed in and talked about the contagion effect: when leaders do not walk their talk, those below them will follow suit and dissonance becomes society-wide; except in Subic and other few places where rules are implemented.

Where lies the truth?  With the experts and academics?  Or with popular perceptions?  This question is interesting and gains traction given the rise of another ‘strong man’ in the person of Rodrigo Roa Duterte as the country’s president (Curato 2017 and Heydarian 2018).  Duterte apparently models himself after Ferdinand Marcos, not hiding his admiration for the deceased dictator by having his remains buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani almost immediately after he was sworn into office in July 2016.

 

PRRD gesturing with hands

President Rodrigo Duterte (VOA photo)

 

Or perhaps, it is erroneous to generalize on the political values and attitudes of Filipinos.  After all, we are such a diverse lotIt would be interesting to find out if variables which differentiate Filipinos from each other (such as ethnic origin, educational attainment, employment and income status, religious affiliation, etc.) would be associated with differences in views regarding democracy (and related phenomena such as leadership and the role of the military in our political system) and social capital and trust; or whether Filipinos hold common values regardless of the aforementioned differences. 

It may be an opportune time to examine the relevant survey data.

 

FM in his 1986 inauguration

A defiant President Ferdinand Marcos in the morning of February 25, 1986, hours before he was spirited away from the Presidential Palace by USAF helicopters

 

To be continued…

 

Bibliography

Abinales, Patricio. 2000. “From orang besar to colonial big man: Datu Piang of Cotabato and the American colonial state. In Lives at the margin: Biography of Filipinos obscure, ordinary and heroic. Ed. Alfred McCoy. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Agpalo, Remigio. 1973. The organic-hierarchical paradigm and politics in the Philippines. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press.

Alagappa, Muhtiah. 1995. Political legitimacy in Southeast Asia: The quest for moral authority. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.

Bayart, Jean-Francois. 1993. The state in Africa: The politics of the belly. London: Longman.

Bratorry, M. and N. Van de Walle. 1994. “Neopatrimonial regimes and political transition in Africa.” World Politics 46(4): 453-489.

Brown, Paula. 1990. “Big Man, Past and Present: Model, Person, Hero, Legend.” Ethnology 29(2): 97-115.

Clapham, Christopher. 1982. Patronage and Political Power. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Curato, Nicole, ed. 2017. A Duterte Reader: Critical Essays on the Early Rodrigo Duterte Presidency. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.

De Dios, Noel. 2008. Institutional Constraints on Philippine Growth. UP School of Economics Discussion Paper No. 0806.

Ellen, Roy. Ed. 2011. Modern Crisis and Traditional Strategies: Local Ecological Knowledge in Island Southeast Asia. Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books.

Hagesteijn, Renee and Piet van de Velde. 1996. Private politics: A multi-disciplinary approach to “Big-Man” systems. Leyden: Brill.

Heydarian, Richard. 2018. The Rise of Duterte: A Populist Revolt against Elite Democracy. London: Palgrave Pivot.

Ileto, Rey C. 2007. Magindanao, 1860-1888: The career of Datu Utto of Buayan. Manila: Anvil Books.

Kathirithamby-Wells, J. 1986. “Royal Authority and the “Orang Kaya” in the Western Archipelago, circa 1500-1800.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 17(2): 256-267.

Kulke, Hermann. 1986. “The Early and the Imperial Kingdom in Southeast Asian History.” In Southeast Asia in the 9th to the 14th centuries. Ed. David Marr and Anthony Milner. Singapore: Institute for Southeast Asian Studies, pp. 1-22.

Lande, Carl. 1964. Leaders, Factions, and Parties: the Structure of Philippine Politics. Monograph No. 6. New Haven: Yale University — Southeast Asia Studies.

McCoy, Alfred. 1999. An Anarchy of Families: Family and State in the Philippines. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Sahlins, Marshall. 1963. “Poor Man, Rich Man, Big-Man, Chief: Political Types in Melanesia and Polynesia.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 10(3): 285-303.

Sidel, John. 1999. Capital, Coercion and Crime: Bossism in the Philippines. Stanford University Press.

Simbulan, Dante. 2005. The Modern Principalia: The Historical Evolution of the Philippine Ruling Oligarchy. Quezon City: UP Press.

Soenarno, Radin. 1960. “Malay Nationalism, 1896-1941.” Journal of Southeast Asian History 1(1): 1-28.

Strathern, Andrew. 1980. The rope of moka: Big-men and ceremonial exchange in Mount Hagen, New Guinea. Cambridge University Press.

Windybank, Susan and Mike Manning. 2003. “Papua New Guinea on the Brink.” Issue Analysis No. 30 <http://cis.org.au/images/stories/issue-analysis/ia30.pdf> March 30, 2011.

Wolters, O. W. 1999. History, Culture and Region in Southeast Asian Perspectives, rev. ed. Ithaca, New York: Cornell Southeast Asia Program Publications in cooperation with Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore.

Introducing a New Economics

Posted: April 26, 2018 in Uncategorized

WEA Pedagogy Blog

Alfred Marshall wrote in his Principles of Economics that “economic conditions are constantly changing, and each generation looks at its own problems in its own way” (1920, p. v.). Our generation is confronted with many problems including climate change, environmental damage, disruptive innovations, inequality, indebtedness, youth unemployment, besides a health care crisis. At the center of these problems, however, is the discipline of economics itself and economics education.

The mathematization of economics was done in the name of science, but in doing so, the mainstream of the academic community has renounced its claim to studying the actual economy. In this respect, it is worth remembering  Keynes’ critique of  the behaviour of pofessional economists at his time since his words are more valuable  than ever,

For professional economists…were apparently unmoved by the lack of correspondence between the results of their theory and the facts of observation;– a discrepancy which the ordinary man…

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WEA Pedagogy Blog

The root cause of our hopelessly defective economic theories is a fundamentally misguided model of human behavior. Modern economic theory assesses the impact of policies by replacing all human beings with homo economicus, which is a brain connected to a mouth and stomach. Because the heart and soul of human beings is removed from the picture before the economist begins his calculations, economists are routinely baffled by behavioral economics, based on actual behavior instead of hypothesis. Topping this deep ignorance is an amazing arrogance about “microeconomic foundations” — that even if macro is wrong, at least our micro theories rest on solid foundations! Such assertions leave me speechless; what can you say to someone who confidently claims to be Napoleon Bonaparte ?

Because of complete failure to understand human beings, economists subscribe to a ridiculous theory of human welfare — it is monotonic in consumption. All of…

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The Illusion of Scarcity

Posted: April 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

WEA Pedagogy Blog

(continuation of previous post on ET1%: Blindfolds Created by Economic Theory)

Economists have performed an amazing piece of magic, successfully creating a mass deception which has taken in the vast majority of the population of the world. Seeing through this complex and sophisticated trick requires separating, studying and understanding many different elements which all combine to create this illusion. One of the elements is a binary theory of knowledge, according to which theories are either true or false, and this is the only characteristic of theories that we should study. This prevents us from looking at the historical context in which the theories originate, and the functions that these theories serve, in terms of advancing the interests of powerful groups in the social struggles then going on. Social theories cannot be understood without this context, and hiding this context, and the relationships between knowledge and power, is an essential…

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WEA Pedagogy Blog

In my paper on “The Empirical Evidence Against Neoclassical Utility Theory: A Survey of the Literature”, I have argued that economic theories act as a blindfold, preventing economists from seeing basic facts about human behavior, obvious to all others. For instance, economists consider cooperation, generosity, integrity (commitments), and socially responsible behavior, as anomalies requiring explanation, while all others consider these as natural aspects of human behavior.

Far deeper insight into the blindfolds created by economic theory is obtained when we realize that these are not random mistakes, made due to defective reasoning or neglect of empirical evidence. If the shopkeeper systematically makes mistakes which always increase the total bill, we can conclude that the mistakes are purposeful. Similarly, strong and repeated commitment of exactly the same mistakes, flying in face of all empirical evidence, reveals the deep ideological commitments which create these systematic errors.  In particular, the goal…

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THE ULOL & GAGO NEWS QUIZ

Posted: January 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

Katuwaan lang!

The Professional Heckler

TRAIN, TAXES,a cursing senator, Mocha Girls, high profile suspects, and more. Are you updated? Take this week’s Current Events Quiz!

1WinPilstar1: WIN OR LOSE. Tweeting from Nevada, USA, Sherwin Gatchalian, a senator, had an outburst earlier this week. Tinawag nitong “ulol” at “gago” ang ilang netizens na nakasagutan niya sa Twitter. Ano ba ang sinabi ng netizens na  ikinagalit ni Gatchalian?
A: Trapo! Ingrato!
B: Intsik ka kasi kaya sipsip kay Duterte.
C: Kung gaano kaliit ang mata mo, ganun din kaliit ang utak mo! Malamang pati tit* mo!

Answer:
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Letter A: Tinawag siyang trapo at ingrato ng netizens matapos niyang batikusin ang administrasyon ni Noynoy Aquino na dati naman niyang sinusuportahan.

2: NO APOLOGIES. Tumangging humingi ng paumanhin si Sherwin Gatchalian matapos magmura sa Twitter. Katwiran ni Win, bayaran at robot daw ang mga nakasagutan niya…

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