by piece of meat (ni kapurit na laman)
More than three centuries we fought for our independence against the colonial rule of Spain, then two scores to get it from the United States, and half a decade we shed blood to win it over the Japanese imperialism. Discounting the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, we all did theses to win our most coveted prize, our Independence. But independence does not entail democracy. We all actually think that independence and democracy are twins, but they were not. Half a millennium is known and written in our sociopolitical history, but never had we achieved Authentic Democracy.
Are we truly democratic?
This question would demand an answer to the question "what is democracy?" Simply said, it is the government of the people. Etymologically, it came from the Greek δημοκρατία (demokratia), which roughly means the rule of the people, coined from δῆμος (demos, people) and κράτος (kratos, power). Quoting the Great President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address, it is the "...government of the people, by the people, and for the people..." and that form of government "...shall not perish from the earth." But as we speak, we find democracy under a different light. It is rather a government to off the people, to buy the people, and to poor the people.
We have actually suffered cultural murder from our conquistadores (conquerors), but still, we are longing for a real democratic society, free from external rule. Our constitution alone is based on the American Constitution; our government is almost American, except that it is not federal. Many of our cultural bias were not actually Asian. The world even questioned the authenticity of being a Filipino. So how we could be truly a democratic nation?
In a Nation Losing Their Identity, it is Impossible to be Democratic
We once protested about the biscuit produced in the Iberian Peninsula. And this biscuit was branded Filipinos by Kraft Foods. It is sold in Spain and Portugal under Artiach's brand. And in 1999, the Philippine government taking this as an insult, because of the apparent color of the biscuit which is dark outside and white inside in reference to our racial identity, filed a diplomatic protest against the government of Spain, the European Commission, and the manufacturer, Nabisco Iberia. In his resolution, then Rep. Heherson T. Alvarez, of the Fourth District of Isabela, stated that "these food items could be appropriately called by any other label, but the manufacturers have chosen our racial identity, and they are now making money out of these food items." With the same resolution, Rep. Alvarez instructed the Department of Foreign Affairs "to immediately conduct a thorough investigation into this matter, and determine the use and misuse of our racial identity to promote or sell a particular brand of cookies or any other product." Nothing happened about this protest, since up until now, Filipinos is still on the market, and I have actually tasted one when my professor brought a pack in our class while we discuss about our identity.
Many of our names were actually an apparent result of mix culture. Our last names alone, a vast majority is of Spanish origin: Santos (Saints), De Guzman (of Guzman), Enriquez (son of Enrico), Rodriguez (son of Rodrigo), etc. Others would be Chinese, like Lee, Sy, Chan, and Yang to name a few. While a small population have american surnames. Few you could hear surnames that sound local, and most were ethnic slurs, like Bantot (fetid or stinky), Supsup (variation of the surname Supsupin, which means to suck), Sumugat (get wounded), and many others. However, some of the Tagalog surnames were actually good, like Matapang (brave), Dimaguiba (indestructible), and Masipag (industrious).
But, how did we get all these names? It was Governor-General Narciso Clavería y Zaldúa who gave the surnames to many of the Filipinos. Many Filipinos in that time have no surnames, and to avoid confusion, on November 11, 1849, he issued a decree sending a long list of surnames to the local officials. Surnames given to locals were either in relation to the nature of their work or family business, like Mercado which means market, or in relation to their social status, like Guinto (Gold), hence, this family are rich people. In some cases, because of their criminal records, others were named Manggagahasa (rapist).
Now, another influence is the system of our Education, though ours is 10 years of basic education compared to the 12 years of education in the United States. Thomasites were one of the first influences of the Americans after they bought us from Spain. This is to instill the American culture to the Filipinos. In 1901, they were brought here through USS Thomas to teach the Filipinos the basics of English, including reading and writing.
The free enterprise that we have, our economy, is very American, our economy is more dependent to the economy of the United States than the economy of neighboring Asian countries. Most of our brands, products, and our daily living per se is American. We cannot live a life without the taste of Coca-Cola, Kraft, McDonalds, KFC, etc. Many of our apparels were actually from the US, and Nike dominates the market. And majority of the BPO companies in the Philippines cater American clients. Billions of calls were coming from the United States.
With all these, what we get is a cultural murder, and admitted I am, I am also a victim. Quoting a good friend, "...we have never won any fight at all. We have just perfected our dependence to US all this time." In the fight for identity, we tried to assimilate ourselves with the American culture. We are actually no different now with the American-Spanish people.
Culture of Corruption
Corruption in the Philippines is actually as ancient as Philippine politics. The main reason why the Philippines remains as a developing nation, a third world country. Allegedly, majority of our budget goes to corruption of public officials. Many of the government projects were questionable. A vast majority of which was from the past administration. In order to evade all possible litigation after her term of office as the President, now Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo seated a lot of people close to her in highly influential positions in the government. There's the issue of the Ombudsman which has been resolved recently, and the majority of Supreme Court Justices were Arroyo appointees that clings to many of her legislative agendas. And here we discount the swing representatives in the Congress. Up until now, the epitome of corruption is at large.
In our congress, our beloved representatives, who were supported by many businessmen during their campaigns, would always have legislation in favor to these men who funded their way to the House of the Representatives. The supposed representatives of the democratic people of the Philippines were actually representatives of the rich people in our country.
We do even have a party representative who's a son of the former President who represents the security guards in the Congress. This is a clear blasphemy of the sectoral representation, he is not a security guard, not even in one of his movies that flopped. But the Commission on Election junked the electoral protest against the said congressman. Well, the Arroyo clan actually dominates the clannish culture not only in Philippine Congress but also in Philippine Politics at large.
Off the People, Buy the People, and Poor the People
Every election, the only time we can call ourselves citizen of this country as we practice our most sacred right of suffrage, many Filipinos will sell their vote for an amount that will make him suffer for 3-6 years. In every election that we do not pick our candidates with full personal discretion, we lose the AUTHENTIC DEMOCRATIC RIGHT we only have. Every time we do otherwise, this authentic democratic right that we have is voided by the Antithetic form of democracy, we choose to be off, to be bought, and then later, to suffer from poverty.
A lot of people would cry then to these people, but hell are these people who only knows how to cry every time they suffer. It is them who choose these officials, take the consequences of their great misconduct therefore.
We can never achieve a truly independent and democratic nation if we do not learn how to be independent from the people who are above us. They are the servants, not us. Teach them how to serve you. Make them pay for every vote they have received. We maybe are independent superficially, but we are never truly democratic.