Dindo Donato


Dindo Donato


    Those who belong to the People’s Power generation[i]may still recall the popular article entitled “The Miseducation of the Filipino” by the late Renato Constantino. Although Constantino addressed his grievances against the American colonial government, I think his approach in analyzing the deep-seated problems of society remains valid until today. I do not necessarily agree with some of the assertions he made in his essay,[ii]but I do agree with his critical observations and emphasis on education.

    I agree with the letter and spirit of his statements that:

    1.       “Education is a vital weapon of a people striving for economic emancipation, political independence and cultural renaissance.” However, I would like to add that it is not only a “weapon” (that implies violence), but also a “tool” (that implies non-violence).

    2.  Nationalism is about the “correction of iniquitous relations,” pursuit of “economic emancipation,” and “appreciation for our own culture.” However, I would like to caution that nationalism is not necessarily anti-foreign, but only against “iniquitous relations.” Nationalism does not absolutely rule out alliances with foreign states, if such alliance supports the national interest.

    3.      “The most effective means of subjugating a people is to capture their minds. Military victory does not necessarily signify conquest. As long as feelings of resistance remain in the hearts of the vanquished, no conqueror is secure… The moulding of men’s minds is the best means of conquest. Education, therefore, serves as a weapon in wars of colonial conquest… The American military authorities had a job to do. They had to employ all means to pacify a people whose hopes for independence were being frustrated by the presence of another conqueror.” 

    4.      “The American view of our history turned our heroes into brigands in our own eyes, (and) distorted our distorted vision of the future. The surrender of the Katipuneros was nothing compared to this final surrender, this leveling down of our last defenses… Within the framework of American colonialism, whenever there was a conflict between American and Filipino goals and interests, the schools guided us toward thought and action which could forward American interests.”

    5.      “It was understandable for American authorities to think that democracy can only mean the American type of democracy, and thus they foisted on the Filipinos the institutions that were valid for their own people. Indigenous institutions which could have led to the evolution of native democratic ideas and institutions were disregarded.”

    6.      “Education cannot be divorced from the society of a definite country at a definite time. It is a fallacy to think that educational goals should be the same everywhere and that therefore what should go into the making of a well-educated American is the same as what should go into the making of the well-educated Filipino. This would be true only if the two societies were at the same political, cultural, and economic level and had the same political, cultural and economic goals.

    7.      “The pathetic results of this failure of Philippine education is a citizen amazingly naïve and trusting in its relations with foreigners, devoid of the capacity to feel indignation even in the face of insults to the nation, ready to acquiesce and even to help aliens in the despoliation of our national wealth. Why are the great majority of our people so complaisant about foreign economic control? Much of the blame must be laid at the door of colonial education. Colonial education has not provided us with a realistic attitude toward other nations, especially Spain and the United States. The emphasis in our study of history has been on the great gifts that our conquerors have bestowed upon us. A mask of benevolence was used to hide the cruelties and deceit of early American occupation.”

    Are these statements still relevant today, specially to the People’s Power generation?

    Literally, they are not. The American colonizers already withdrew from the country 75 years ago. However, if we apply Constantino’s statements to our situation today, mutatis mutandis or “by changing those things which need to be changed,” then they still are. Replace Constantino’s references to the “Americans colonizers” with “Filipino oligarchs,” and all his statements remain relevant, at least in spirit if not by the letter.

    By “oligarchs” I refer to the family-based conglomerates that play the role of “kingmaker,” outlast administrations, and hijack government policy to suit their vested interests.[iii]They subvert democracy by manipulating public opinion, procuring the loyalties of educational institutions (i.e. administrators, professors, parents, students) through disguised financing,[iv]and spreading “fake news” and “false views” through mass media networks they own or influence.

    In colleges and universities, particularly the so-called elite schools in Metro Manila (i.e. Ateneo, La Salle, UP), they impart to their students a profound admiration of the oligarchs (who are all over the public utilities, mass media and natural resources), deep respect for the communists (who seek to grab power through violent class conflict), and strong condemnation of all the puny mortals who dare oppose them. Let me cite some examples of teachings in schools: 

    1.      They wouldteachabout martial law declared by the Marcos administrationin
    September 1972, as a mere ploy to extend their terms in office, citing the arrest and detention of many political personalities.[v] However, they would not teach about the Plaza Miranda bombing that terrorized and killed innocents in August 1971, that was initially blamed on Mr. Marcos but later pointed at the CPP-NPA under Jose Maria Sison, in likely collaboration with Mr. Ninoy Aquino, the presumptive presidential candidate of the Liberal Party.[vi] They also would not teach about the supply of arms by the Peoples’ Republic of China to the CPP-NPA, shown by the MV Karagatan incident in July 1972,[vii] and the widespread communist insurgencies in Southeast Asia at the time, where practically all neighboring countries were under martial law.[viii]   

    2. They would teach about human rights violations of the Marcos administration, which allegedly involved 3,257 extra-judicial killings during 1970s and 1980s, per Amnesty International and the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines.[ix] They also would teach about the 5,526 drug suspects killed from 2016 to 2019, as per data of the PNP and PDEA.[x] However, they would not teach about the 43,000 fatalities between 1969 and 2008 from the armed rebellion of the CPP-NPA-NDF.[xi]

    3.      They wouldteachabout theHello Garci scandal, where then President Arroyo was
    recorded calling Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to allegedly rig the results in her favor.[xii] However, they would not teach about the role of the US Embassy in instigating the Hello Garci and Hyatt 10 scandals, because of Arroyo’s alleged refusal to align Philippine foreign policy with US foreign policy.[xiii] They also would not teach about the role of IFES (International Federation of Electoral Systems), a Washington based NGO funded by USAID and the US State Department, in securing the entry into the country of the Venezuelan company Smartmatic, to take full technical control of Philippine automated elections, characterized by the disablement of basic safeguards against fraud.[xiv]

    4.      They would teachabout the P171 billion of ill-gotten wealth recovered from the
    Marcos family by the PCGG during the period from 1986 to 2017.[xv]However, they would not teach about the questioned disposition by President Cory Aquino in favor of her relatives and allies, of shares recovered by the government in PLDT, PAL, Meralco and ABS-CBN.[xvi]They also would not teach about the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of President Noynoy Aquino, a secret budget declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, valued at P144 billion from 2011 to 2013.[xvii]

    5.      They wouldteachabout the removal of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno in May
    2018, by the Supreme Court itself, as politically motivated simply because she was an appointee of President Noynoy Aquino.[xviii]However, they would not teach about the removal of Chief Justice Renato Corona by impeachment in May 2012, who insisted “this (was) all about Hacienda Luisita” because he recently led the Supreme Court to rule against the Aquino family.[xix] They also would not teach about the alleged bribery of senators by the Aquino administration, to ensure Corona’s conviction, using public funds from DAP.[xx]

    Obviously, this kind of one-sided narrative hides the “whole truth” from the people, directs their anger at those painted as villains, and enables the oligarchs and the communists to go about their usual business of exploiting and destroying the country. The mantra of miseducation reads like this: “Ninoy is a hero. Cory is a saint. All their acts are good. All their enemies are evil.”

    Admittedly, I too was a product of this miseducation at the Ateneo. It took me almost 20 years to come to my senses and reject this mantra. Please allow me to recall how I started my journey. 

    In law school, while Mr. Marcos still held the reins of power in Malacanang, I joined a cause-oriented group called Sandata, affiliated with the coalition of Bandila, that advocated socialist democracy. During the snap elections of 1986, I volunteered for Namfrel, and got assigned to a community near the international airport in Pasay City.

    On February 22th, while attending a mass with Namfrel, a radio playing just outside the church door, announced the breakaway of a military faction. This caught everyone by surprise and caused a minor disruption of the ongoing service. Immediately after the mass, I rushed to Camp Aguinaldo, to see things for myself. No one was there that night, except for about 20-30 people gathering at the large Santolan gate that was closed. I came back during the next two days, together with a driver as companion. We blended ourselves with the growing crowd.

    On the 4th day, I decided not to go during the daytime, but instead go at night, because I noticed that the crowd usually thinned at nightfall. Later that day, the radio made another surprising announcement, that Mr. Marcos already left Malacanang. With this news, I did not go back to Edsa anymore, because there was no more reason to do so.

    During the next 20 years after Edsa, I always fell back to the mantra, whenever doubts entered my mind. These doubts came early though, like when I almost voted NO to the 1987 Constitution, because I thought the bicameral congress established was a big mistake. There were other issues, like the diluted clause on territory that smelled of treason. In the end I relented, because the country needed stability, and I thought we could always change the constitution later.

    Alas to my dismay, the very icon democracy, Cory Aquino, always led the crowd of pro-oligarch and pro-communist voices who would block reform. At the forefront of the blocking force was the formidable ABS-CBN of the Lopez group. Four sitting presidents (i.e. Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo, Duterte) dared to challenge them, and all attempts have failed so far.

    My frustration however does not end there. The learned, whom I thought should support constitutional reform, would instead push back to retain the “status quo.” This is exactlywhat the oligarchs want, but they are oblivious to it. Using the powerful mass media they own, control or influence, they would routinely condemn the innocent and acquit the guilty, with impunity for all to see. All their acts were good, and all their enemies were evil, and so they became merciless and unrepentant.

    I guess the new version of miseducation foisted on the citizenry since 1986, has succeeded beyond measure. Sadly, the miseducation has seeped so deeply, even the children of senior officials of the Marcos administration, would try so hard to hide or deny their affiliation, and awkwardly squeeze themselves into the opposite crowd.

    While I was anti-Marcos during those times, I do not think it is fair to generalize. If their parents did not take part in any plunder, kept their offices free from corruption, and steered clear of human rights violations, what is there to be ashamed of? I have learned from experience that judging people and their actions as right or wrong is never that simple. There will always be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    To be clear, I’m not suggesting a contrary mantra that the Marcoses are the good guys, and the Aquinos are the bad guys. What I’m saying, and do listen very carefully, is that we should junk this false stereotyping because it resulted from malicious miseducation. We should instead take all allegations cautiously, and come to a judgment based only on reasonable evidence or the lack of it, so we can give everyone what is due.  

    For the family and close friends of the oligarchs, I understand where your sympathy lies. However, I will also ask you to understand that ordinary folks like us have families too, and we comprise the vast majority of the people. Know that we have neither the interest nor the capacity to take ownership of the large corporations of the oligarchy. We only want them to stop misusing their extra-ordinary power, to take control of government and reconfigure government policy for their vested interests.

    Many say that “mass media” is the “fourth branch of government,” holding the power to convict the innocent and acquit the guilty, with seeming impunity. Thus, I say that owners of mass media should NOT have proprietary interests in other big businesses that seek government franchises or contracts (for public utilities or natural resources). This is a clear case of conflict of interest, where mass media attacks or defends the very government agencies that their corporate affiliates deal with.

    For those deeply hurt by the harsh words, foul mouth, dirty jokes and aggressive posture of Mr. Duterte in dealing with his perceived enemies, again I understand why. However, I will also ask that your personal hatred of the man, should not outweigh your communal love for the country. Remember that Mr. Duterte is the personification of an overwhelming protest vote against the regime of President Noynoy Aquino. If the people voted for a foul-mouth candidate, it is NOT because the voters were dumb. It is because they perceived the “decent” and “rightful” candidates as wolves in sheep’s clothing, and so they rejected them.

    If you want to know why you lost in 2016, stop looking at Mr. Duterte. Instead, start looking at yourselves, your allies, your groups and all the advocacies you stand for (like same-sex marriage, abortion rights, defunding of the armed forces, funding for known communist rebels [reclassified as Marcos human rights victims], church in politics, protection of oligarch business, etc.). It is not enough to simply degrade your perceived enemy, and magnify his mistakes in governance. You must also show that you have the better candidates who do not smell like wolves.

    I will quote here the wise words of Mr. F. Sionil Jose to “Remember this: Marcos, Duterte – they are minor incidents in our history, but the oligarchic families will be with us much longer and will most likely be replaced by heirs who will continue to exploit our country and our people. The struggle to create a just and sovereign nation transcends these politicians and their oligarch allies. The Filipino oligarchy is our entrenched enemy – not I or those like me who see and know the truth.”[xxi]

    So where do we go from here? How do we address this deep-seated problem of miseducation among the People’s Power generation?

    For me, I would suggest that the DepEd and CHED, in close consultation with the schools, colleges and universities, review all possible instances of miseducation and one-sided narration to arrive at the “whole truth” for presentation to the student population. Considering that some, if not many, of the administrators, professors and teachers may themselves be products of miseducation (like myself), and would hesitate, if not refuse, to participate in this exercise to learn and spread the “whole truth,” any such findings should be made freely available online viagovernment websites and popular social media (like Facebook), so that the students themselves will have direct access, just in case their mentors will not go along.

    I would also suggest that the national government allocate modest resources to form a truth commission to go back in time and review the important historical events that eventually led to deep divisions within our nation State. These are the events that created “dilawans,” “loyalists,” “pulahans,” and “jihadists,” who now pose formidable obstacles to national unity. To heal the mortal wounds inflicted by these events, the nation must go back in time to face the truth, sift fact from fiction, clear the innocent, condemn the guilty, and give everyone what is due.

    I recall that when I first raised with our late advisor, Fr. Romeo J. Intengan, S.J., the idea of a truth commission to review important historical events, he immediately agreed, much to my surprise. He went on to explain the need to arrive at the truth and give much needed guidance for the many who were misled. I guess they knew and believed in this idea all along. I was simply a latecomer whose only contribution was to do some legal research on an old proposition.

    The idea of a truth commission to review important historical events later found its way to the Agenda for National Transformation adopted in 2016 by civil society groups and a national newspaper.[xxii]Among the important historical events identified then were the Plaza Miranda bombing (that revived the communist insurgency), and the Ninoy Aquino assassination (that divided the nation into opposing personality cults of Marcos and Aquino), and the Jabidah massacre (that sparked a Christian-Muslim conflict).

    Moving forward, we must learn the value of seeking the truth, the “whole truth,” and nothing but the truth. We cannot leave our fate to those who care only for themselves, their families or their ideologies. We will have to protect our interests, not only with consistency, but more importantly with humility, because indeed the truth will hurt us when it comes.

    Nonetheless, we should not be dismayed by the formidable task ahead. Know that we who seek the “whole truth” comprise the vast majority of the country, and we have a clear vision of the direction we should take.

    Maraming salamat po.

    Atty. Dindo B. Donato, General Counsel
    Tanggulang Demokrasya (Tan Dem), Inc.
    14 July 2020. Makati City, Philippines.

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this material are those of the author
    and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TanDem.

    [i] For this essay, I refer to the high school and college students, graduates, new hires and young adults during the People’s Power revolution of 1986, and all the younger generations that came after that until today.

    [ii] Here are some assertions of Constantino that I disagree with:

    1)      That we should pursue the Filipino First policy to protect the business interests of Filipino businessmen; this statement wrongly assumes that the profits earned by Filipino businessmen from out of a captive Filipino market, that is artificially protected from foreign competition even from legitimate players, will “trickle down” to the Filipino workers and consumers; on the contrary, economic experience shows that enterprise owners on one hand, naturally have conflicting interests with enterprise employees and customers on the other hand; see Theory of the Firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure, by Jensen and Meckling (1976), https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0304405X7690026X; Law of Supply and Demand, by Chappelow (2019), https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/law-of-supply-demand.asp; today, the biggest dollar earners of the country are the OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) who work for foreign employers overseas, and the BPOs (business process outsourcing) that are generally owned by foreign investors; unfortunately, we also have the highest power cost, slowest internet, unpredictable water supply, untapped mineral and energy resources, and highly politicized mass media, all them majority or wholly owned by Filipino businessmen, granted artificial protection against legitimate foreign competition, by no less than the Constitution; in reality, the Filipino First policy is nothing but a Businessmen First policy;

    2)      That the American educational system was deliberately designed to produce generations of little brown Americans, “trained as citizens of an American colony,” to impede their pursuit of independence; on the contrary, the entire commonwealth exercise was geared towards independence; knowing their strong sense of individual independence, I cannot accept the notion that America wants to be the parent of a fully grown child who cannot fend for himself and instead rely on daddy and mommy for free meals every day; the mindset of a typical American parent would kick out this irresponsible child out of the house; at worst, the American educational system was a pragmatic means of pacification by a colonizer, to purposely re-channel the energies of Filipinos from violent “armed struggle” to non-violent “political struggle” for independence; anything else that resulted from this undertaking was more likely unintended or unplanned; that the Americans exhibited superiority, while the Filipinos behaved with inferiority, is a given, because the former were the conquerors and the latter the conquered; however, for Filipinos to accept this inferiority “as if” it were an inherent part of their humanity, would be stupidity of their own making; remember that America itself was formed by people from the colonies or territories of the United Kingdom and Spain;

    3)      That the American educational system purposely crafted a backward agricultural future for the Philippines, devoid of any vision for modern industrialization; if that were truly the case, then the Americans should not have introduced engineering and science courses, that were otherwise useless for agriculture and useful only for industry; if the only picture that American teachers could present was of a rural Philippines, showing a sturdy carabao, smiling farmer and pretty lass, I surmise it was simply because that was the economic state of the country at that time; recall that the main motivation for education was simply pacification; anything beyond that, like the future economic structure of country, was no longer their concern; the Americans would have withdrawn from the country already, and it was up to the Filipinos how to survive or thrive on our own;

    4)      That the imposition of English as a medium of instruction by the American educational system posed barriers to democracy (because the masses were left uneducated), and impeded the thinking process on a people that spoke different native languages; I would agree that the DepEd should continue to review the appropriate age or student level when English, being a foreign language, should be introduced and used as a medium of instruction; however, the failure to provide English education to the masses actually meant that the Americans should have done more, not less, to promote the democratization of education and open the gates to the vast reservoir of knowledge written in English, and too costly to translate into Tagalog or the other local languages; nonetheless, I cannot help but notice that while Constantino deplored the American imposition of English as a medium of instruction for Filipinos, he ironically wrote write his critical essay in proficient American English;

    5)      That the Philippine educational system should impose the “national language” (meaning Tagalog) on the entire country, including the non-Tagalog regions, because it was at least related to the other local languages, while English was a totally foreign language; on the contrary, if knowledge were the end goal of education, then it cannot be Tagalog (euphemistically called Filipino), but should insteadbe English, because the vast reservoir of knowledge we know is not in Tagalog, but ratherin English; besides, Constantino appears oblivious to the fierce nationalism of the other language groups in the country; while a sizeable portion of the population has Tagalog as its native tongue, there are actually 8 major languages in the country, and more than 100 in all; more importantly, the population is comprised of 3 peoples, i.e. Christians, Muslims and Lumads, each one with its own unique history, that is not commonly shared but at many times actually came into conflict with one another; in other words, Constantino apparently presents the view of the Christian Tagalog, and while he is entitled to that, so are the rest of the people who are neither Tagalogs nor Christians; again I cannot help but notice that Constantino repeatedly refers to the people as “Filipino,” seemingly unmindful of the fact that the term is actually foreign and colonial in origin, referring to King Philip II of Spain, the first foreign colonizer of our archipelago.

    [iii] An Anarchy of Families, chapter on Rent-Seeking Families and the Philippine State, Alfred W. McCoy, 1994.
    Greed & Betrayal, Chapters 6, 11 & 15, Cecilio T. Arillo, 2000.

    [v] Martial Law under Ferdinand Marcos. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martial_law_under_Ferdinand_Marcos#:~:text=At%207%3A17%20pm%20on,country%20on%20February%2024%2C%201986.

    A journey of struggle and hope: The memoir of Jovito R. Salonga, January 2001, Chapter 12 Excerpt

    Mad, Simply Mad, Ronald Roy, 05 March2013.

    [vii] History of the Philippines (1965-1986). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Philippines_(1965%E2%80%931986)#Martial_law_(1972%E2%80%931981)

    [viii] Domino Theory. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domino_theory#:~:text=The%20primary%20evidence%20for%20the,(by%20the%20Khmer%20Rouge).

    [x]Philippine Drug War. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Drug_War#cite_note-feb19cnn-33

    [xi] Communist rebellion in the Philippines. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_rebellion_in_the_Philippines

    [xii] Hello Garci scandal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hello_Garci_scandal

    [xiii]            Gonzalo M. Jurado, Ph.D, The Present as History: A Narration and Interpretation of Events, 31 December 2009, http://dodongakakakiko.blogspot.com/2010/01/hello-garci-and-aragoncillo-project_12.html

                 Transcript of Chargé d’Affaires Joseph Mussomeli’s interview on ANC 21’s “Dateline Philippines,”with Ricky
    Carandang, 08 July 2005. Previously available at the US Embassy – Manila website athttp://manila.usembassy.gov/.
                 Excerpt of ANC 21interview:
                 Ricky: Can you categorically tell us right now, sir, that the United States Government supports the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?
                 CDA: I could categorically tell you that we support the rule of law. Within that context, we believe that the President is still the President, obviously. That it is within her legal rights to remove her cabinet; her Cabinet is hers to do with as she pleases, but that doesn’t mean we’re not disappointed in that. It doesn’t mean that we’re not worried; this is something that distracts from the reforms that she was committed to and we hope is still committed to. You know, I know many of the Cabinet members who have resigned now, and the ones that I know are all very decent, and good people, patriots -- people who are concerned for the welfare of the Filipino people. So, it is a worrisome thing, but it is certainly within her rights. (emphasis supplied)
                 Ricky: Do you agree with the characterization of some of the President’s allies that these cabinet members who spoke this morning are “adventurous?”
                 CDA: No, I couldn’t agree with that. I know some of them very well, and the ones I know, frankly, have accepted these posts as an act of patriotism and are concerned for the welfare of the people. They could make a lot more money and have a lot more prestigious roles in the private sector, but they have chosen to be in the Cabinet... (emphasis supplied)
                 Ricky: …that pertain to reports, widespread speculation that the United States may have had some involvement on this. If you recall when the tapes first came out, Secretary Bunye himself said that there were reports that the Americans had something to do with it, and of course you said that you had nothing do with it.
                 CDA: Right, and that was actually proven true.

    See Smartmatic, IFES and the Company, by D.B.Donato (2018)

    [xv] Presidential Commission on Good Government. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidential_Commission_on_Good_Government#:~:text=Achievements-,Recovery%20of%20ill%20gotten%20wealth,since%20its%20creation%20in%201986.

    PCGG: More than P171 billion in Marcos family’s ill-gotten wealth recovered.

    [xvi] Not Getting Mad at But Getting Even with, Tita Cory, by Bobby M. Reyes, 07 September 2007.

    Manila Times, 14 May 2008, Government still owns Meralco, Efren L. Danao

    [xvii]Infographic: What’s DAP? FAQs about the Disbursement Acceleration Program

    Timeline: The rise and fall of DAP

    Araullo v. Aquino, G.R. No. 209287, 01 July 2014. http://elibrary.judiciary.gov.ph/thebookshelf/showdocs/1/57044

    [xviii] Maria Lourdes Sereno

    [xix] Corona: This is all about Hacienda Luisita

    [xx]Impeachment of Renato Corona

    Infographic: What’s DAP? FAQs about the Disbursement Acceleration Program

    Timeline: The rise and fall of DAP

    [xxi] The oligarchy and ABS-CBN: Don’t give them your ‘balls’, by F. Sionil Jose (2020).

    [xxii]Agenda for National Transformation, Social Reform: Truth Commission, Tanggulang Demokrasya (Tan Dem), Inc., Global Filipino Nation (GFN), The Manila Times, 18 January 2016.

  • The oligarchy and ABS-CBN: Don't give them your 'balls'
    The oligarchy and ABS-CBN: Don’t give them your ‘balls’

    HINDSIGHT - F. Sionil Jose 

    (The Philippine Star)May 18, 2020 - 12:00am

    Let me continue my observations on the ABS-CBN issue that provoked a passionate response. But first, this personal background. I am very grateful to the Lord for letting me live this long – I am 95 – without the ailments that cripple the mind. This isolation enforced by the pandemic gave me time to think more deeply and read and review some of what I had written. I conceptualized and wrote my Rosales saga novels, “Tree” and “The Pretenders” when I was in my late teens and early twenties. Re-reading them now, I realize how mature they are. It was the war that matured us early. It was also during this period, I think, that my socio-political education really began. In late 1942, I was a peon in a surveying company in Floridablanca, Pampanga, mapping out the expansion of the airfield there. I saw those Japanese fighter planes and twin engine bombers take off and land. I marveled how a tiny Asian country produced them and challenged a big power like the United States. In my novel, “The Pretenders,” the industrialist, Manuel Villa, builds a steel mill. I realized that early that steel is the foundation of industry and modernization. I joined the old Manila Times in 1949 and started knowing our country better. I travelled all over Asia, too, and elsewhere, furthering my knowledge of agrarian problems and observing culture change. Coming from a farming village, my interest in peasant movements broadened, and I witnessed our peasantry brutalized, particularly by the sugar barons. That knowledge led to my understanding of the need for social change, for revolution even – a belief I hold on tenaciously to this very day.
    World War II wrought profound changes in our society creating a new ruling class. Though the war battered us, in the Fifties and Sixties, we were the richest country in Southeast Asia, next only to Japan. Korea, Taiwan, and even Japan were very poor. So were all the ASEAN nations. We had the best schools and hospitals. Now, look at us, and our Asian neighbors who left us behind? Why, we are very poor? Our leaders, the writers of my generation know the answer. Development starts with capital, whether it is in government or in private hands. It is with this capital that we start industries, development. We had that capital but it was sent abroad, much of it, or spent in non-productive enterprises. Basically the holders of this vast capital – the oligarchy had no sense of responsibility, no love for this country which they had exploited. The Lopezes are a major part of it; the tip of the iceberg, so huge but unseen, like the iceberg that sank the Titanic.

    The modernization of Korea, etc. was not brought about by proletarian revolutionaries but by middle class professionals, soldiers, and enlightened businessmen backed by strong governments.
    Some claim that this present generation of oligarchs had changed; I had shared the same hope, but a close look at the new oligarchs reveal that nothing has changed – the perspective, the form of investments, fancy condominiums, shopping malls, the casinos. Poverty has not been erased – all the social surveys show it. Hunger still prevails. The revolution I’ve dreamed of is yet to come. Peacefully I hope.
    In a broader, deeper context, all over the world are giant corporations and billionaires. In the capitalist system, their goal is profit, their techniques are almost always exploitative. But some businesses (and billionaires), however, are not always motivated by profit. They are nation builders, humanitarians, who use their fortunes to build more humane societies. But I do not see this in the three generations of the Filipino oligarchs who have exploited this country and our people. 
    Marx was right; as we can see today, capitalism, motivated by unrestrained greed is far deadlier than this Coronavirus which, science hopefully can control or eradicate. But greed is an integral part of the human person. It can be tamed with the creation of new human institutions that will assure mankind an existence endowed with justice – if we have the will to do it.
    All too often, we are lulled into acquiescence, if not apathy, by the seductive allure of slogans of universal abstractions like freedom and the gloss and glitter of instruments like ABS-CBN. Yes, ABS-CBN indeed has its uses. But reduced to its very core, it is pure entertainment. History is full of similar even analogous examples. When the ancient Romans were restive, the Caesars gave them parades and circuses. As for freedom, it is the camouflage of the true nature of ABS-CBN just like the sea that hides the iceberg. Freedom is also the sugar coating that attracts the libertarians, the sincere believers in human rights, who have no time to look deeper, beyond the glossy surface. Listen – the real issue with ABS-CBN and its owners is not press freedom. It is MONEY, POLITICS and POWER – how power is acquired, how it is abused and maintained, and most of all, how it obstructs this country’s economic and democratic development. If allowed to continue, will it now return the billions it owes the government?
    The Lopezes are not alone; they are however the most visible tip of the iceberg. But if the Lopez empire can be toppled. Then, it should not be difficult to do the same with the others. The revolution, then, shall have begun.
    Conclusion: ABS-CBN is not crucial to this nation’s survival nor does its closure mark the end of press freedom. Hundreds of TV and radio stations and broadsheets will continue to purvey news and views. And there is the omnipresent social media wide open to both idiot and intellectual. In fact, the removal of this media giant will contribute to the levelling of the playing field and the strengthening of democracy.
    For so many of us who cannot think of the future and whose minds are focused only as far as the next election, remember this:  Marcos, Duterte – they are minor incidents in our history, but the oligarchic families will be with us much longer and will most likely be replaced by heirs who will continue to exploit our country and our people. The struggle to create a just and sovereign nation transcends these politicians and their oligarch allies. The Filipino oligarchy is our entrenched enemy – not I or those like me who see and know the truth. I’ve tried to be honest with myself. I know I am expendable, but not as much as the peasant who produces our food. I have to distance myself from self-righteousness knowing I can be wrong. I do not profit from telling the truth. I am reviled instead. Listen – all of you who resent me and wish me ill – I have nothing precious, no fiefdom to lose – only this life and the little of it that’s left. I’ll use it writing.

Feed by Dodong aka Ka Kiko