The Chicken and The Egg ParadoxMay 2nd, 2009 by cocoy
Manny Pacquiao is a singularity. Even before this Pacquiao-Hatton fight, we can feel Pacquiao’s event horizon pull everything in. Philippine Government business in Congress now stands still as Las Vegas becomes the center of the Philippine universe. And when the bell is rung in Las Vegas and Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton trade blows, the rest of the Philippines will stand still. One must understand that for a nation as fractured as the Philippines, rivalries are put on hold: standing by Manny Pacquiao, who has reached the pinnacle of his dream and his ambition is rare is the common denominator. It makes Manny Pacquiao, a hero.
You know the communication tool called Twitter right? You’ve seen it raved on CNN. Twitter founder Biz Stone was on The Colbert Report and I’ve pretty much pimped it in my posts. Twitter, Apple (yes the iPod and Mac maker) calls it:
Twitter’s meteoric rise to ubiquity is proof positive that the world, in all its complexity, is eager to embrace simplicity. Wielding more impact on social networking than most communication tools this generation has yet seen, Twitter is one of those universal phenomena where the product name self-conjugates. To engage with Twitter is to “tweet.”
SAD but true: RT @JeromeGotangco: Lennox Lewis knows Philippine politics: http://tr.im/kbDh #boxing (via @jmalonzo)
What, you think the bot’s always on? Anyway, long story short @jmalonzo reply makes a good point:
@filipinovoices I don’t see why he can’t be a president. Becoming one and being a good one is different.
This isn’t beyond the realm of posibility: one day, Manny Pacquiao could be a President of the Republic of the Philippines. It isn’t a question whether or not Filipinos see Pacquiao as a Hero, nor is it a question whether or not he can effectively run a campaign on the national level. Ultimately, in my humble opinion boils down to, a question of leadership. Let me explain.
A few days ago, Connie Veneracion asked Political commentary: high brow entertainment or pseudo-intellectual masturbation? I can certainly understand where she comes from:
“We already know who they are against – they make that very clear in a very redundant manner – but what do these self-proclaimed guardians of freedom and democracy believe in and what are they willing to fight for? While they never seem to run out of criticisms, they fail to realize that any criticism is only as good as the counter proposal it seeks to promote. Without that counter proposal – without that bright idea as to how things ought to be done – then, political commentary is nothing but huffing and puffing, a form of high brow entertainment, pseudo-intellectual masturbation or all of that.”
Our national life is all sound and fury, signifying nothing. So much so that regardless whether you believe or not the story of Jun Lozada is immaterial or if you remember him at all. Whether or not you think Jun Lozada is a sacrificial lamb or that there is a bit of Jun Lozada in you.
Nothing substantial happens.
I want to add something equally important and related. It is something Manolo Quezon was thinking about regarding revolutions and why they fail in the Philippines:
And yet, the overwhelming number of our people stubbornly insist on political solutions to economic and social problems: the ballot remains the magic bullet. For its adherence to this view, the public is portrayed as either selfish, or silly, or even suicidal. But what if the people are right? And those insisting on the other solutions are wrong? As Rizal asked, what then?
What if they’re both wrong?
If revolutions have failed then equally, the magic bullet of the ballot has likewise failed. Election in and election out: nothing substantial happens. Look at our Republic’s history, not just our recent past. Look at the dynamics of our local government and separately our national government. Our politics on every level is an aristocracy masking itself as a democracy. Politicians run for public office for these things: name recognition; influence; to maintain family interest; to protect and grow their wealth. Civil Society and the Filipino middle-class for all their rage and fury, for all the talk of morality and ethics, for all their grumbling at the state of affairs of our national life in front of the evening news or Sunday paper, neither are prepared for the responsibility of changing the game.
The scary part is, maybe our people actually like the high brow entertainment and pseudo-intellectual masturbation. Most certainly it doesn’t interest our people to care about the effect of zombie oligarchs half a world away. They don’t care about banks negotiating stress tests. For one thing, the fall of Chrysler most certainly does not affect the lives of Filipinos, so why bother to know about that company filing for chapter 11?
Laughable why a no brainer question such as will Congressmen going to Las Vegas for the Pacquiao-Hatton fight be quarantined if they get flu symptoms was ever asked. Maybe we should stop and look at Understanding Influenza and look at how the numbers compare to in this map prepared by the Wall Street Journal that mark cases around the world. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared, so keep updated through the CDC and the WHO and let health care professionals do their job even as alarming as the word “pandemic” might be for people:
The World Health Organization (WHO) provides an influenza pandemic alert system, with a scale ranging from Phase 1 (a low risk of a flu pandemic) to Phase 6 (a full-blown pandemic):
• Phase 1: A virus in animals has caused no known infections in humans.
• Phase 2: An animal flu virus has caused infection in humans.
• Phase 3: Sporadic cases or small clusters of disease occur in humans. Human-to-human transmission, if any, is insufficient to cause community-level outbreaks.
• Phase 4: The risk for a pandemic is greatly increased but not certain.
• Phase 5: Spread of disease between humans is occurring in more than one country of one WHO region.
• Phase 6: Community-level outbreaks are in at least one additional country in a different WHO region from phase 5. A global pandemic is under way.
As imperfect as the system in place is, they got our back you know?
Another scary thought is this. Maybe our people aren’t prepared to go beyond our provincial attitude. Maybe we can’t see the world with open eyes. Fellow Filipino Voices contributor Nick Nichols [Asian Energy Advisors blog] was in Kabul, Afghanistan recently on business. He has been tweeting about his experience [his son has summed up his tweets] with observations like this:
Kabul is a devastated city. I was shocked at the devastation. I can only imagine what this city was once like.
Maybe we can only see how bad it is, not how we can make it a better nation. As the song goes: You with the sad eyes don’t be discouraged. Oh, I realize It’s hard to take courage in a world full of people, you can lose sight of it all. And the darkness there inside you makes you feel so small.
Going back to why I think it is a bad idea for Manny Pacquiao to run for President stems from my hobby of reading comic books; particularly, of the superhero genre.
I was reading this post written by Julia from the Adaptive Path blog. She wrote about Superman being a hero. Superman, she said, was faster than a speeding bullet, and all that but not a leader. Leaders as she put it:
….empower others. Leaders don’t do all the work on their own, but instead inspire other people to create something amazing, to work towards a cause, or to move a project or humanity to a better place. When a leader is present, everyone works and often together. Gandhi is known for renouncing violence and empowering others to do the same. Really, what good is creating anything for people if everyone is injured or dead? JFK is known so well for asking people what they can do for their country. He empowered others. When a leader is truly leading, people aren’t left behind, but brought along and inspired into action.
Julia is right, you know?
In the world of the comic book, particularly the superheroes of the DC Universe, the theme of Superman as a world leader has been explored countless times over the past ten years and is still being explored. Mark Waid and Alex Ross back in the Mid-1990s wrote a most awesome Graphic Novel, “Kingdom Come” that dealt with the ethics of super heroics. In that novel, one of the questions they asked was: What if Superman gave up on his never-ending battle? You can guess that the world was shit and that the Second Coming of Superman didn’t exactly turn things around.
There is another side of Superman. While Batman has always been seen as the “general,” the Dark Knight with the plan. The man you should take out first when facing the Justice League, Superman on the other hand wears bright colors of blue, yellow and red because he needs to be seen. He is a symbol of hope. Just his mere presence on the field of battle, you know things will be all right.
And the DC Universe event Infinite Crisis where Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were at cross purposes and found themselves at each other’s throat at the smoking ruins of the Justice League Watchtower. This happens when Superman can’t inspire. Wonder Woman can’t relate and Batman judges:
Batman: You relate too much. You’re not human. You’re Superman.
Superman: I know that.
Batman: Then start acting like it. All hell has broken loose and you’re on the moon with me? The world needs you.
Superman: Telling people what to do? I’m not a god. And I’m not like you, Bruce. I don’t need to control everything.
Batman: After all these years, you know it’s not about control. It’s about trying to do everything I can. And for you, it’s about setting an example. Everyone looks up to you. They listen to you. If you tell them to fight, they’ll fight. But they need to be inspired. And let’s face it “Superman“…the last time you really inspired anyone— was when you were dead. We’re done.
Then Batman and Wonder Woman walk away.
Wonder Woman: Yes. I guess we are.
My point is this. As a new prince of the realm, the politician Manny Pacquiao’s motives are clear. He subscribes to the same ideals that the current crop subscribe to. If he chooses to run, it would be because he wants to continue his name recognition; his influence; to maintain his family’s interest; to protect and grow their wealth.
But Manny Pacquio is like Superman.
Manny Pacquio is a hero. He steps on that ring, he brings pride to Filipinos everywhere. He’s the Filipino everyman. Manny Pacquio is a rags to riches story. His story is the poor boy who turned himself into a champion and win or lose against the fight against Hatton that will not change. But there could be another side to Manny Pacquio. He can be a leader. He can inspire others. With his wealth, Manny Pacquio could start training schools and companies that can create jobs. With his vast wealth, he can inspire people to be better than who they are and actually help them out in a more positive way.
Maybe we need an out of the box idea to fix things in this country. Alexa of Adaptive Path wrote about Creativity for Left-Brained People and is a good method to use. So are you good to throw some ideas on the board?
Anyway, the dedication that Filipino entrepreneurs across this country give to grow their business is important. The work they do and that of our countrymen like the poor soldier out there in Mindanao dedicating his life to his country by following orders is important. Filipinos from across the world in all sort of occupation, often in demeaning jobs are heroes for putting kids in the Philippines to school, for dedicating their blood and toil and sweat to try to get their families out of poverty. This is the half that thrives because of our individual endeavor, because of our love of family and the passion we feel towards our own. While this country need heroes, it is in short supply of leaders. That’s the other half of the solution, in my humble opinion.
This is interesting. Primer wrote Paradox of the Party-List System:
Again, we are interested to know if Party List A, or PL B, or PL C – all alike – actually earned their votes not from the general population but from some local population alone. For if this be so, it means that any winnable regular congressman can tag along another of his own, say a brother or a sister.
Given this scenario, it is clear how one can hit two birds with just one stone. Serious observers of trends or legal scholars must try to really do a work in profiling. At the rate it has gone, we are seeing a pattern where supposedly new politicians actually come from the same families – over and over again.
That’s an aristocracy right? Does it matter? I don’t think it matters that there is one. It matters what they do with the responsibility.
We need leaders who will use the aristocracy to grow this nation. I’m not saying our leaders need to be ethical. I’m not saying they should be morally clean. I’m not even saying the drama that they perpetuate on television and the farce that is the news should be stopped. I’m not even saying they should explain or raise the standard of discussion or understanding of our people. All i’m saying is that given positions of power and public trust, they should advance this country’s interest.
The Philippines is like an old Spanish house. It is time to upgrade it to have modern conveniences. It is time for a renovation and the only place that will happen is from the inside. CIvil Society and the Middle Class won’t take power or the responsibility associated with it. They don’t know how to. It isn’t in their nature. Half of the changes that this country needs must come from our Aristocracy. That’s where leadership must come from. The sad part is, our nation’s political life is like a singularity and that’s the chicken and the egg paradox we have.
*the image of Manny Pacquiao and Freddy Roach is by licensed by Frederick Manligas Nacino, Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0
update: **sorry forgot to add that the comics I embedded was “Infinite Crisis”, written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Phil Jimenez, inked by Andy Lanning, colored by Jeremy Cox and Guy Major, Lettered by Nick Napolita and published by DC Comics, December 2005. The comic is owned by DC Comics and I evoke fair use.