Reclaiming Independence

12 02 2009

This rant requires familiarity with Filipino heroes, namely Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo. My knowledge is limited to word of mouth, and old editions of a textbook called “One Country, One People.” The textbook was published with the Code of Kalintiaw which is now known to be a fraud. That said, I am open for corrections.

The intellectual deficiency of the Philippines today can be traced back to three pro-independence revolutionaries in the late 19th century. Rizal, Bonifacio and Aguinaldo emerged as leading figures who opposed centuries of Spanish colonization. They rose to prominence when Filipinoes resigned themselves to a lifetime of oppression because of so many failed attempts at opposing Spain.

Bonifacio and Aguinaldo took up the usual route of revolts and initiated the call to arms. Bonifacio was no savant, charismatic orator, or  brilliant tactician but an ancestor of the “savage” datu, Lapu-lapu, who was first to defend our country centuries earlier. He lacks the attractive distinctions of the esteemed Jose Rizal but believed that if independence was to be gained, it would only be through our own power, courage and will. Freedom wasn’t something asked for, but seized. There is still much speculation and controversy over Aguinaldo’s execution of Bonifacio. To my knowledge, Bonifacio had to be eliminated in order to unite differing factions otherwise united bythe same goal.

A nation’s identity and ideology is usually shaped through violence. We lost the chance to experience the kind of transformation that instill self-confidence and self-reliance when Bonifacio died. Bonifacio is the stillborn symbol of pride and initiative. He is popularly described as being illiterate, impulsive, passionate, and having a fiery personality. These attributes may be the reason he was no match for the  ambitious and calculating Aguinaldo. His defeat lives on through the prevailing attitude of futility toward government corruption and societal ills that Filipinoes grudgingly tolerate instead of actively oppose.

In parallel, Rizal is identified as the revolutionary who took up the pen instead of the sword. I’ve only recently learned that he is actually an atheist, which coincides with his many criticisms of the Roman Catholic Church. To me, this means that he was not actually a pacifist but an intellectual. He understood that the religion was the greater threat than Spain.

Despite Jose Rizal being a fitting national hero, none of his philosophical views are even remotely understood by Filipinoes. Even today, we remain enslaved by the religion that he denounced long after foreign rule ceased. His works exist only as status symbols for superficial discussion, memorized lines devoid of any real meaning. Our respect for Rizal is limited to his historical prestige,  while neglecting what lead to it.

Though we eventually gained independence through peaceful means, I believe that had we fought for our independence instead of waiting to receive it, we would now have a better understanding and appreciation of freedom. Can a contemporary Filipino understand the basic principles of protecting its ideals from oppression, foreign or domestic?

The  Philippine People Power is cited the world over as proof that it is possible to make peaceful changes. Did we really learn anything from the experience? Marcos came to power as a popular politician with  many suggesting that his power ultimately corrupted him.  Marcos was a very religious man who merely practiced what he believed. The Bible is filled with many contradictions so it isn’t a surprise that even a brilliant man like him would eventually lead a country to ruin. Perhaps, he was the type of man Rizal envisioned and wanted to warn us against.

The purpose of history is not just to archive the past but to understand and learn from the successes and shortcomings of those who helped shape who we are today. The Philippines is no longer under foreign threat, but there is general stagnation in culture, politics, and economics that can only be addressed through philosophy. The prevailing philosophy is religion, which deters much needed reforms. If we want progress at all, we need introspection and to adopt a philosophy of  secularism.

Presently, we hail overseas workers as heroes for bringing in much needed revenue keeping the country from the brink of bankruptcy. Many others simply migrate for the promise of wealth and opportunity. The Philippines is teeming with talented, productive, hard working people. What it lacks and needs is intellectual leaders.

Objective truth

28 12 2008

The Legacy of Stunted Potential

3 11 2008

My grandmother was the happiest when her grandchildren were crowded around her fighting over a remote control. As soon as a channel was agreed upon and the children’s chatter ended, she would issue various orders that would stir the children back in action. I don’t think she did this out of malice, but because she enjoyed seeing us in action. There was a twinkle in her eyes and an almost imperceptible grin when in the presence of boisterous children. This paints a wonderful, stereotypical picture that most adults use to convince women to bear children. It’s superficial reason that only serves to depict children as benign, decorative objects to be paraded around or stirred in action. However, there are far more degrading conditions that children are subjected to. Children are especially targeted and victimized with indoctrination, unrealized dreams and hopes of the very adults who are supposed to help them. Children are autonomous, living, breathing, miniature, human beings.

One of the last Filipino movies I saw was about a woman who married several husbands each of whom died after fathering one child each. She eventually ended up with five children, each having a different father. The eldest child was going to college and was trying to win the heart of a nice girl. Long story short, the happy ending involved the eldest child quitting college to pursue work and breaking up with the girl he eventually won over to help support the family despite the mother finding another husband to marry. The eldest boy’s “sacrifice” subplot was combined with the search for a lost deaf sibling because money was needed. It’s even more disappointing when they found that the lost sibling didn’t even get that far and was found hiding behind a box near their home.

There is a stereotype in media that unless your family supports you with your ambitions, you’re just being “selfish.” Well, isn’t that just an oxymoron? Ambition only works if the person involved really believes in it. The eldest child from the movie had a lot of potential but was throttled before he could even take flight. What kind of a message were they even trying to achieve after building up a subplot of how the eldest child was going to college to pursue his dreams that was actually going to help save his family from poverty? Pursue your dreams but family will always come first no matter what? The boy should have continued his college education which would have only lasted a few more years and gained him more money to comfortably support his family and fulfill his dream. The eldest child damned himself into a mediocre existence that neither helps himself or his family. He was preparing ahead, working on a plan that would take some time to benefit from but had to abandon it for a temporary fix just to be with his family for what turned out to be a modest crisis. I wanted to burn the VHS after the corny ending which hinted that the new step dad was going to get into an accident like all the others and how the family got to stay together in the old dilapidated house achieving nothing at all.

The type of experience the eldest child went through is common and experienced by many. From childhood, we are encouraged to do our best, be successful and be open to every opportunity. This unrelenting pressure to be the best is inflicted especially for those who can afford an education. It’s common to hear someone losing sleep from studying for an exam or being punished for coming home with a dissatisfactory grade. Despite the strong support for education and the recognition that it would lead to a better life, they will eventually be told to settle for the “practical” choice, the “modest” choice, the choice that will ensure familial stability. The youth is told to abandon their ambitions; which contradicts what they were told when they were young. This has left many of us with the impression that the life of an adult is dull, unrewarding and apathetic.

If genius can be nurtured, why not have another child? Why not have more? A large brood is very popular especially in the provinces where children are used as free farm hands that also double as a lottery ticket to a genius who will rescue the family from poverty. Everyone should be familiar with this popular anti-abortion story:

How would you advise a mother who is pregnant with her fifth child based on the following facts: Her husband has syphilis. She has tuberculosis. Their first child was born blind. Their second child died. Their third child was born deaf. Their fourth child had tuberculosis. Would you advise the mother for an abortion? Oops! If you said yes, you would have just killed the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven! We cannot know what God has in mind for every individual…”

This story is factually untrue. It’s more like an urban legend, with the details changing from person to person. Nonetheless, most Filipino couples embrace this tale. It gives them another reason to have children.

Although both my parents came from large families, they didn’t entertain having more than three children despite regular nagging from us. My brother wanted another younger sibling since he had tired of us. I wanted a little sister. My younger brother disliked being the youngest because he was at the bottom of the pecking order. Despite setting up mock romantic dinners, hustling our parents to go on a date or another honeymoon, they ignored our requests, or discouraged us by giving us impossible tasks or sending us out on errands. There goes the unborn sibling who could have been a genius, an inventor, a talented actor or just the revolutionary the country had been waiting for since the Spanish era ended.

A close friend in high school came from a poor family of five girls, all of whom lived in a one-room Nipa hut she told me about, but never wanted me to see. She graduated as valedictorian from elementary school, and all her sisters were decked in school medals till they graduated from high school. The conditions of her lifestyle satisfied the Beethoven analogy but still made it difficult to raise their status from poverty.

I can’t imagine living in a one-room home with five other people. I grew up in a modestly-sized home where I had my own room, even if it doubled as storage. We also had some kind of a yard where we could actually run around and play, but also have the misfortune of being ordered to trim the grass with a giant pair of scissors on our haunches.

The Beethoven analogy doesn’t bother to satisfy if a couple is able to provide adequate shelter, food, attention or guidance for all the potential children involved to nurture genius. It relies on a gamble that you have as many chances of being saved from poverty from the number of children produced. Even if none of the children end up being a genius after all, they are treated as indentured servants who are forever in debt for the gift of life. We are talking about children, not livestock, investment or an inanimate object. Doesn’t this seem inhuman and disingenuous? Dreams coming true, good fortune, success. These are merely by-products of reaching a goal. If children are to be encouraged to do their best from the beginning, it should be encouraged further when they reach adulthood. Elders supporting youth to aim for the superficial results of success alone is tragic and cruel.

There may never be a perfect parenting method and no one can predict what kinds of moments and memories will be important to a growing and developing child. What does matter is to keep in mind that a child will eventually become an adult. What kind of legacy are our elders really looking for? A brighter future? More money? Success? Aren’t those all just generic platitudes designed to placate youth to keep up appearances of a supporting parent? Even if the disingenuous support produces results, the individual finds himself tied down to be just good enough for familial stability. The cycle continues and the desire for further progress hindered. The result of this upbringing in the larger scale of society results in an individual’s loss of initiative and inevitable stagnation.

Conceptual Corruption

29 10 2008

Ever wonder why it’s difficult to explain ideas or concepts to people? Take the time to watch this video as it explains why.

I like to put the blame on public schools since the video pretty much explains the method of teaching, popular or enforced in schools today. Memorization of patterns, routines, the way certain words look or even formulas explain why it’s so difficult to grasp subjects that require logic like math.

Think of how this translates to people’s morals and values. When you ask them their thoughts on moral dilemmas, they can’t even begin to grasp what it really means to them.

Sex and Sensibility

26 10 2008

Right now would be the perfect time to have Eraserheads’ classic song, “Magasin,” playing in the background as you read this article. No one seems to take sex seriously unless it is discussed in the form of toilet humor or hushed silence. Teachers would take pains to be careful with their choice of words to make sure that no student would laugh at the mention of “certain” reproductive body parts, their functions, locations and purpose for fear that parents would come storming the school. The religious mainstream is catered to and follows the credo of sex being reserved specifically for reproduction within the constraints of married life. Parents dread the question “where do babies come from?” Sex is viewed with such naivety, immoral curiosity and agnostic disgust which has led to the booming “bomba flicks” to cater to the guilty pleasure of Philippine cinema goers.

It is difficult to accept that despite living in an age reaping the benefits of knowledge unveiling the mysteries of a once supernatural world that such a natural act as sex is still continued to be viewed with such disgust, disdain and feigned ignorance. Sex is the very reason why we are all here, why we exist. More than any other individualistic value or trait, it has suffered the most from layers of infantile ridicule from centuries of religious doctrine and double standards. It’s a very private, intimate celebration of life.

Is it really any surprise why the proposed Reproductive health bill is met with such strong opposition? The reproductive health (RH) bill promotes information on and access to both natural and modern family planning methods, which are medically safe and legally permissible. It assures an environment where women and couples have the freedom of informed choice on the mode of family planning they want to adopt based on their needs, personal convictions and religious beliefs. The fact that most people who oppose this bill haven’t even read it is proof of the naive and ignorant attitude that Filipinos have towards sex. Basing their decisions on superficial values without a thought or consideration for the needs of the invisible population who do not enjoy their comfortable, “righteous” lives.

Please support the bill.

The Root of All Evil

10 10 2008

The following is an excerpt of Francisco D’Anconia’s money speech in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. The passage is appropriate for today’s climate.

Rearden heard Bertram Scudder, outside the group, say to a girl who made some sound of indignation, “Don’t let him disturb you. You know, money is the root of all evil–and he’s the typical product of money.”

Rearden did not think that Francisco could have heard it, but he saw Francisco turning to them with a gravely courteous smile.

“So you think that money is the root of all evil?” said Francisco d’Aconia. “Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

“When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor– your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money. Is this what you consider evil?

“Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions–and you’ll learn that man’s mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.

“But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is MADE–before it can be looted or mooched–made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can’t consume more than he has produced.

“To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will. Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except by the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss–the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery–that you must offer them values, not wounds–that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of GOODS. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men’s stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best your money can find. And when men live by trade–with reason, not force, as their final arbiter–it is the best product that wins, the best performance, then man of best judgment and highest ability–and the degree of a man’s productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil?

“But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires. Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality–the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind.

“Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants; money will not give him a code of values, if he’s evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he’s evaded the choice of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent. The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up by becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and the frauds come flocking to him, drawn by a law which he has not discovered: that no man may be smaller than his money. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

“Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth–the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started. If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him. But you look on and you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money? Do not envy a worthless heir; his wealth is not yours and you would have done no better with it. Do not think that it should have been distributed among you; loading the world with fifty parasites instead of one, would not bring back the dead virtue which was the fortune. Money is a living power that dies without its root. Money will not serve that mind that cannot match it. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

“Money is your means of survival. The verdict which you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life. If the source is corrupt, you have damned your own existence. Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men’s vices or men’s stupidity? By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money will not give you a moment’s or a penny’s worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you’ll scream that money is evil. Evil, because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect? Evil, because it would not let you enjoy your depravity? Is this the root of your hatred of money?

“Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices. Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit. Is this the root of your hatred of money?

“Or did you say it’s the LOVE of money that’s the root of all evil? To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It’s the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is the loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money–and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it.”

“Let me give you a tip on a clue to men’s characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.

“Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another–their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.

“But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride, or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich–will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt–and of his life, as he deserves.

“Then you will see the rise of the double standard–the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money–the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law–men who use force to seize the wealth of DISARMED victims–then money becomes its creators’ avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they’ve passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.

“Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion–when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing–when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors–when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you–when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice–you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.

“Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it becomes, marked: ‘Account overdrawn.’

“When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, ‘Who is destroying the world?’ You are.

“You stand in the midst of the greatest achievements of the greatest productive civilization and you wonder why it’s crumbling around you, while your damning its life-blood–money. You look upon money as the savages did before you, and you wonder why the jungle is creeping back to the edge of your cities. Throughout men’s history, money was always seized by looters of one brand or another, but whose method remained the same: to seize wealth by force and to keep the producers bound, demeaned, defamed, deprived of honor. That phrase about the evil of money, which you mouth with such righteous recklessness, comes from a time when wealth was produced by the labor of slaves–slaves who repeated the motions once discovered by somebody’s mind and left unimproved for centuries. So long as production was ruled by force, and wealth was obtained by conquest, there was little to conquer. Yet through all the centuries of stagnation and starvation, men exalted the looters, as aristocrats of the sword, as aristocrats of birth, as aristocrats of the bureau, and despised the producers, as slaves, as traders, as shopkeepers–as industrialists.

“To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a COUNTRY OF MONEY–and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement. For the first time, man’s mind and money were set free, and there were no fortunes-by-conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being–the self-made man–the American industrialist.

“If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose–because it contains all the others–the fact that they were the people who created the phrase ‘to MAKE money.’ No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity–to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted, or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The words ‘to make money’ hold the essence of human morality.

“Yet these were the words for which Americans were denounced by the rotted cultures of the looters’ continents. Now the looters’ credo has brought you to regard your proudest achievements as a hallmark of shame, your prosperity as guilt, your greatest men, the industrialists, as blackguards, and your magnificent factories as the product and property of muscular labor, the labor of whip-driven slaves, like the pyramids of Egypt. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide-as, I think, he will.

“Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns–or dollars. Take your choice–there is no other–and your time is running out.”

Just for shits and giggles:

Discipline or Child abuse?

15 08 2008

Joselito is talking again. It won’t be long till a chalk eraser hits him square in the face followed by snickering from the entire class and the Math teacher’s hugely popular jibes before he swats the board and reminds the class to pay attention to the lesson. Less cruel teachers would silently stroll towards an unsuspecting chatter and tap their desk so suddenly that it would jolt any sleepy student awake. I thought this was limited to being in grade school and high school since kids of that age tend to be mischievous and spirited so It was to my surprise when a friend attending University mentioned that her professor still practiced throwing chalk eraser projectiles at chatty students, swatting a student’s hand or twisting their ear red to correct their behavior.

My American relatives and friends recoil with horror and shock at how casually I speak about discipline of this nature from experience and respond by demanding that this teacher be fired. These are the same people who would joke or threaten their parents with Child services at the slightest threat of being slapped.

Corporal punishment was a common disciplinary method that my parents used with the punishments ranging from slapping, spanking and whipping. In all instances, I don’t remember what it was that we were being corrected for but many times it felt that they were simply having a bad day and was taking it out on their children. My parents and relatives would speak about their experiences occasionally and relate stories of being asked to carry heavy pails of water and stand in the sun until they passed out or get beaten with a bamboo cane. Even they never relate what led to the punishment but only the nature of the punishment itself. As an after thought, they would mention how lucky we were as we weren’t being punished as severely as they did in their day. You could hear the cries of a child echoing from next door and no matter how heart wrenching it is, there is complete respect for the guardian’s decision to physically hurt them because it’s considered discipline. It didn’t matter what the child did, the child was at fault. The child was in no position to explain himself. It was that simple and this was the only way to discipline him or her.

I asked school friends during grade school to see if this only happened in my household or if it was common practice everywhere. The unanimous answer was that almost everybody was raised this way. Those who never experienced corporal punishment were usually an only child or someone from a rich family whose parents were never home. In any occasion that someone remembers the reason that led to the punishment ranging from ignoring an errand, leaving the stove on, failing to come home with a satisfactory grade or quarreling with a sibling the punishment left us fearing our parents instead of learning or understanding the nature of our mistake. I’ve been around children who had committed far more serious crimes such as poisoning animals or having a fit and breaking furniture deliberately only to be given the same exact punishment as I have. I fail to see how our crimes are equal and why I deserved to be given a spank when there’s this other kid who broke his mother’s China set because he couldn’t get the toy he wanted.

“I’m doing this because I love you.”


“Don’t pretend to cry like it hurts so much. This hurts me more than you.”


“I’m punishing you for your own good.”


These were phrases often pronounced when my parents were put into a position to “punish” us. There was even one occasion when my mom complained to my dad that she was tired of playing the bad cop as she handed him a belt that was to be used to exact justice. I wish I could remember the circumstances that led to faults that had to be corrected in this manner but I always feel that they were never fair, deserved or even necessary. Admittedly, the nature of the punishment slowly switched to long lectures and derogatory speech the older we got but we would still occasionally get slapped or hit depending on the parents’ mood. Most of the time, it was hard to tell what was considered good or bad that it was almost like running across a mine field when dealing with my parents. This month it didn’t matter how late you were out, next month it would. Yesterday they just gave you a big speech on how it’s OK to drink and smoke, today it isn’t as they’ve joined the ranks of environmentalists. We found that there was no moral compass of any kind to figure out what was good or bad but our fate was left to the whims and moods that they had. This is what corporal punishment amounted to.

I don’t know if corporal punishment is still common practice in the Philippines now though I’ve witnessed many friends having their own families now and dealing with their children by taking them aside and discuss the fault having more success on ensuring the child doesn’t repeat the unwanted behavior. They remember all the times they got beaten or witnessed another kid getting beaten and do their best not to practice it upon their own children. There are a few who would resort to a mild form of slapping or spanking when they get angry and frustrated.

Would I be a different person now if I wasn’t spanked, slapped, whipped or beaten when I was a child? I don’t know, though I would’ve appreciated it more if my faults were explained to me instead. I used to wonder why my parents would do it when they didn’t like it when their parents did it to them. Did it actually work on them? Did they learn something from getting beaten? It sure isn’t working for me and has left me confused and distraught. They were children once, did they ever try to reminisce what it felt to be put in the same position?

A toddler recently died of neglect for failing to say “amen” by his mother. The grandmother who appealed to the media is trying to blame it on a cult her daughter is involved with isn’t fooling anyone. It may just be my imagination but I can’t help but notice the 100 yard stare from this recent picture of the mother involved just oozing with self-righteousness without a hint of regret for the loss of her infant son. Most parents mean well and only want the best for their children but in instances like this, isn’t it going too far?

When facing someone who has never experienced corporal punishment, I am deeply suspicious of whether they are telling the truth, lying or feigning ignorance. These people aren’t any different from those who were raised with corporal punishment which raises the question of whether it’s necessary or if it even works. Maybe some kids really need a good spanking, especially the ones that are extra rowdy or need to be shown who the authority figure is.

Child rearing is a thankless, expensive, stressful, highly demanding and exhausting job. It’s even more difficult to know what kind of memories children will remember or forget. Not all parents are knowledgeable or patient enough to sit down with their children to discuss issues that don’t fall under the realm of stereotypical problems such as drugs, sex and violence but a lot of children would rather be given an explanation than a slap or be grounded. Fear never leads to respect and oftentimes seems to warp one’s sense of what love is. Children are so perceptive and unbiased that only indoctrination warps those valuable assets. I don’t think anyone is born evil, if so, it probably involves some kind of chemical imbalance in their brain.