Man has always been moved by tendencies to dominate, be dominated and be free. These have given rise to man’s various political philosophies and forms of government throughout history: Monarchy, Dictatorship, etc. Political Dynasties were also the result of these instincts; few families’ instinct to dominate is made possible by the peoples’ instinct to be dependent, to subjugate themselves and surrender their fate to the stronger families. And man’s instinct to free himself from any form of subjugation arises not only because of his capacity of reflection but because of the imperfection of the ruling parties and their imperfect system of government which causes him to suffer. Pain and sufferings are sensations that activate the instinct to flee. Hence, flight reaction is the biological foundation of this thing we call freedom. This is the main difference between man and animals; the world of animals is perfect than man’s world when by perfect we mean their stable form of government and the members dedication to their leaders and to their duty. The society of the ants or bees is a perfect example of a perfect society that has been around for millions of years already, never changing because every ant or bee benefits from the system and the system benefits from every ant or bee. So there is no reason for ants or bees to shout “yes, we can !”, no need for freedom, for change or rebellion.
In man it’s a story and history of wars and rebellions because our society is built upon these tendencies mentioned. Our story started with tribal clans to divine kings and dynasties and dictatorships of all kinds. But most of these monarchies and dynasties had been wiped out; and brutal dictators all over the globe have mostly met with tragic end. Today we can count the remaining dictators and monarchies in the world and most of them are disappearing. There is really nothing essentially wrong with political dynasties in the Philippines if these people were equipped to govern rightly but unfortunately this is not case, hence the unstable Philippine economic and political situation for in any country with flawed or no democracy, ‘only the worst gets to the top’ according to the Austrian 1974 Nobel Laureate in economics Dr. F. A. Hayek. The Philippine politics is the most obvious proof to Dr. Hayek’s observation. Political dynasties in the Philippines have brought the country to a dead-end for, propelled only with greed and equipped with their capital and political power, political dynasties’ only task is to stop any political candidate from the grassroots or win him to work for them. In this sense, there is really no democracy in the Philippines for the elective office is reserved mostly to few moneyed families. Our system of governance has been built around the vested interests of these families. Progressive and truly democratic countries are devoid of political dynasties, hence the system of check and balances is a reality. The USA has some powerful political families (Kennedys, Bush, etc.) ,too, but they are not dynasties as we Filipinos understand it for anyone among them with political ambition still has to prove his worth. And though it is a country with problems of corruption also, power has long been decentralised with their system of checks and balances. They had it in their minds when these waves of liberal and democratic Europeans fled Europe being fed up with their feudal lords and kings and powerful church bishops and founded the USA with the intention of never ever repeating their bad experience with tyranny in Europe.
But in our case, this group of Europeans who landed in the Philippines- the Spaniards- were not fleeing but were looking for new territories for their king where he could extend and establish his dominion. He was successful and it lasted long. When they had to leave because of their imperfect governance that had led to rebellion, they left us with their churches and powerful and infuential land owners all over the country out of which some of the present political dynasties came. In this way colonization was not really put to an end – and most of us do not realize this- but practically continues until this day in our country in the form of Catholicism and Trapos (traditional politicians) who share a common mission: to keep the Filipino masses just where they are- poor and dependent, wherein the Catholic Church is interested only in the life thereafter and in the collection of offerings and its shallow crusade for moral betterment but not in birth/population control while the political dynasties keep the monopoly of political rule to themselves. We know that poverty and lack of education diminish the people’s sense of independence and augment the people’s weaknesses and feeling of debt of gratitude. This explains why we are overly-thankful when a Congressman or President releases funds for a project in our city or town as if the the money originated from their own wallet, not from the people’s taxes. With increasing population and poverty, the Catholic Church is actually supporting the continued existence of our political dynasties; for like the Church, political dynasties feed themselves on poverty and ignorance of the greater population. An aspiring politician from the base is forced to sycophancy and blind obedience to the one on top to reach his goal in politics but at the expense of his moral integrity and independence of the mind. By being corrupted, he joins the big machinery that tramples the rest of the population and the chance of some equally able- or may be much better- political aspirants but cannot and do not want to buy a government office. Lack of morals among these politicians prevents the whole nation or town from shining and of correcting the equally corrupted perception of the people towards election. For people themselves can be very mean towards candidates who cannot or do not want to buy votes; they are simply ignored and belittled if they cannot buy them a drink. Political reality is far from just being one way affair- it is a two way affair. As the politicians used to say “The people just get the government they deserve”. That ‘s why our government is more often than not very unsatisfactory partly because of people’s poor choice.
Democracy is not the invention of the politicians but a reflection of the people’s political maturity: an immature society of people produces an immature- or flawed democracy. In short, when things get boring and difficult in our country, we’d rather start blaming first ourselves rather than the politicians that bought us. So don’t complain when Arroyo presents us yearly with high statistical figures during her SONAs and claims before our Asian neighbors that the Philippine economy is on the verge of take-off. You know that this is fiction yet you have been paid to believe it. On the other hand, honest citizens know that Arroyo’s figures are not the proof of a shining country or town. The best indicators of a shining country or town are the people themselves: If they look dark (poor), then those figures presented were fictional, written in a dark room. In contrast to the poor people, it is again this logic of greed, not poverty, that augments the character weaknesses of our rich oligarchs and politicians that, while they shamelessly amass their wealth by plundering the national resources, they continuously destroy the already fragile pillars of the Philippine society and threaten the whole nation to sink in the deep and dark bottoms of the Pacific.
Back to the ants and the bees I’m tempted to say that they are happier than human beings. And although they seem to be greedily working the whole day, what really moves them is not greed but their loyalty to their group and dedication to their duty. Work hard and save for the rainy day… Hence, the ants and the bees are perfect politicians, concerned about their tomorrow and the welfare of each. They may appear just blindly obeying a genetic programm or look like robots without the faculty of thinking. But who told you that they are not happy and that they do not think? Though neither an ant nor a bee has ever whispered to me that he is happy, I prefer to consider him happy for apart from working hard together, they always go back home and never rebel against their society. Filipinos have rebelled and many who left home are not interested in coming back to the same situations that have literally driven them away. And in all corners of the earth human beings have fought wars, turned vast acres of land to sticky red, killed their kings and presidents. So would you rather prefer the life of an ant or a bee or your life as a human being? Or you still prefer to be where things still need to be done?
“To each his own”, commented the reader Marianne Gotladera in this site to the topic of Political dynasties in the Philippines. Well, if each one does not own things that do not rightfully belong to him or to her, why not? But this is far from being realized in the Philippine setting. Our president knows why. For with EDSA II she drove Erap from his seat because of Jueting only to continue it with her husband and sons. This is the face of our politics- makapal. And with this “Kanya-Kanya” attitude (To each his Own), we Filipinos will never be able to build up a cohesive society let alone produce political leaders that think in this direction. I, Me, Mine and To Each His Own are things that sound familiar to us but they are like the blue and sometimes dark waters that separate the many Philippine islands, Bulan from San Jacinto and Masbate.
On the other side, I tend to play play with the idea that Filipinos are not made to succeed. For if we were we would have gotten it long ago. Yes, maybe we do not need success for we fear we cannot handle the tremendous responsibility and costs that success brings with it. Success would rob us of our freedom to violate laws and leisurely life-style and perception of time, would make us irritable and impatient, would cover more fields with asphalts and cements, would congest our towns with high-rise condominiums, would break down our family structures, would increase heart attacks and suicide rates, would have us pay more taxes, would increase working hours, would produce more volumes of garbage and CO2-emissions that would pollute more our environment, etc. Who knows, it could be that our present socio-economic and political situation is already perfect for our Filipino character, so why desire for more? We only accomplish that which is directly proportional to our strengths and weaknesses, what we can and what we cannot and our present situation is maybe that what fits to us, that which keeps us apart from the Japanese or Thais. So why change ourselves and be like them? For this, our debt of gratitude should go to the greed of political dynasties and to our people’s uncommitted attitude towards politics; they have saved us from the discomforts of being rich and progressive. Indeed, our society is perfectly made for us, by us.