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Jacinth Ramone D.

Jimenez POLSC14

July 26, 2012 First Examination

Reasons for and implications of an ambiguous historical past

During the time that Spain colonized the Philippines, there were very few purely indigenous Filipino traditions, values and institutions that were built well enough to survive three and a half centuries of Spanish influence. While this is true, Spanish culture did not fully penetrate into the Filipino way of living. The basic unit of society, the family, still continued to be of a bilateral descent system wherein which a wife is treated as an equal to a husband. The nation was essentially ran by friars from Spanish religious orders, rather than by actual Spanish officials. Also, the Spanish language, the language that the friars spoke, was taught only to a small number of Filipinos. Catholicism, which I think is well-known to be the greatest contribution of the Spaniards to the Philippines, was also adapted as it was adopted by the Filipinos. The late nineteenth century saw the rise of an elite class chiefly composed of the Chinese mestizos, called the caciques. They rose as the elites of society in view of the fact that they were the owners of lands that were of agricultural purposes, the leading source of economic growth during that time. After the regime of the Spaniards came the Americans benevolent assimilation of the Philippines. Filipinos who had no [or very limited] power were given responsibilities over their own land. Filipino elites worked side by side with American officials. There was very little transition time in between all of these occupants. The Philippines was left with troubles in defining who they are and where they belong to as a whole. It became an almost impossible task to establish the Philippiness identity as a result of their multi-cultural heritage. This continues on to present day, where several have criticized the Philippines for being too Americanized. But, what is it to be a Filipino anyway? Some try to search far into Philippine history, to pre-colonial times, to find answers. However, lifestyles during that time were very much primitive, and wont be very much relevant to contemporary times. Another conflict that arises from this situation of an identity crisis is that Filipinos themselves, mostly from the elite class, reject the culture of the very society in which they live in. These are the implications of having an ambiguous historical past. Political culture and its limits

Political culture is the pattern of individual attitudes and orientations toward politics among the members of a political system. It is the subjective realm which underlies and gives meaning to political actions. (Almond and Powell) Identifying a societys political culture is necessary in order to understand its political systems. Given that, studying a nations political culture is problematic. This is because individual communities within are highly dynamic. To be able to come to an invariable conclusion would be difficult, but not impossible. Ideals could be patterned not from what is distinctively Filipino, but from what is reasonably important in influencing the majority of the Filipino political culture. Philippine culture and their implications on political culture

The Filipino culture has several permanent aspects such as: primacy of kinship, particularism and personalism, reciprocity and patron-client relations, smooth interpersonal relations, and pervasive poverty. The Filipinos are heavily family-oriented, and have put great value on kinship ties. The family remains to be the most influential force that shapes social, political and economic interactions. In terms of economy, the rich have been known to control most of the wealth in the Philippine society. Moreover, most local government is controlled by a few families who have power over lands. In addition to that, the mentality of Filipinos wherein which they treat family members with great loyalty and anybody outside the family with equal disdain has made nepotism and favoritism a normalcy. Another point in Filipino culture is their great value in reciprocity, or utang na loob. Filipinos have been slaves to their ideology that all favors must be repaid else be labeled as shameless. This was displayed during the time of Marcos when poor Filipinos felt indebted to him because of his many programs and projects that supported them. These Filipinos need not repay him in monetary form, but many felt obligated to repay him through their support during the elections. Also, pakikisama is observable all over the Philippines, in every type of situation. It is when one goes along with what is, even if one does not necessarily agree with the situation. Filipinos usually try not to make controversy when in light of problems rather than confronting issues in a straightforward manner [which may be viewed as rude]. This has given Philippine politics its show biz qualities wherein politicians bank on hyperbole and flamboyance.

Poverty is ever-present in Philippine society. Poverty has given Filipinos a practical and more short-term approach to life. The impoverished have become more and more desensitized to their situation, and have begun to resort to illegal ways just to get by every day. They have begun to care less and less about their environment, and the other people living in it. And most importantly, the poor have handed over their sole source of control, their power to vote, in exchange for favors from politicians. Lastly, personalism and particularism has resulted from almost all of these. Personalization has obscured the definite line between what is of public property and what is of private property. The use of government funds is so vague that one does not really know where resources come from. This was furthered by the fact that politicians often serve their own selfinterest, and the interest of their own families. Differential treatment between those who are well-connected and those who are not is very much obvious. Pre-Martial Law Philippine government and politics

Philippine democracy was an elite democracy. Power was held by a few wealthy families. There were the Nacionalistas and the Liberals, were essentially directly influenced by these wealthy families. Despite elections, the majority of the people had little to no control over the political process seeing that they were of inferior economic status. Also, the Philippine government had a unitary system that gave emphasis on government control. The Philippine elite has dominated the system since their emergence as a class. The wealth that they have amassed through ownership of lands and through succession has allowed them to dominate and influence the government. This is because they essentially control the votes of their numerous employees, they are the financial backers of politicians, and have since bought the loyalties of those in authority. In addition to that, they also have a certain hold on the media, and have ties with the Church. This system is problematic because the elite had only their self-interest in consideration. They controlled the government so as to serve their economic and political pursuits, and also watered it down where it would have interfered with their interests.

The Forces of Change

In the time before Marcos became President, great changes were occurring in society. The population began to grow and become younger. This entailed a higher demand for employment, social services and education. These endeavors necessitated a higher budget and bureaucracy. Also prompted by the increase in population and in industrialization, people began to migrate to the urban areas to seek employment. This gave birth to the small, urban middle class. The economy grew as a result of the mechanization of several agricultural processes. The Catholic Church also proved to be a significant force of change when they started to become more proactive in protecting the social welfare of exploited poor. Though far from its activist stance in the decades after, this movement laid the foundation for future undertakings. With the rise of a bigger middle class, the elite now faced difficulties in maintaining their economic and political power. Traditional politics has become more and more tenuous because of this. In addition to that, the elite has now diversified in light of the fact that the economy has grown more and more complex since the war ended. Their differing activities and interests cultivated even more rivalries amongst them. The competition then intensified, creating more political instability. The issue of having a very diversified elite is still very much present as of today. Even more problematic is that they continue to hold and control much of the countrys wealth. The Philippine landscape of politics is still pretty much controlled by the elite who have the power of their wealth over present-day politicians. Philippine society continues to be an unfair world for the poor, who have no power to influence the political system. The system continues to be antipoor, and pro-rich. Martial Law

Several theories have been made about why Martial Law was imposed. Some say that real democracy never prevailed in the Philippines because of the Americanization and USdependence of the Filipinos back then. Some, that democracy will never be possible in light of the value Filipinos put on kinship ties. Another, that the Philippines could not afford the luxury of having a democratic nation. The author suggests that all of these could have constituted to the declaration of Martial Law.

I think that the culture of the Filipinos is primarily still the same today. The culture of having strong and dominant kinship ties will never be abolished in the Philippine society. Personalism and particularism will always prevail in our society because thats simply how

Filipinos think. To modify that way of thinking would be very difficult, as Filipinos have proved to be a very unbending and strong-willed people. Filipinos will continue to abide by their morals and their beliefs. As long as there is that strong desire for smooth interpersonal relations, politics in the Philippines would never be fair for all.