The Liberal Party and Its Coalition: An Alliance of Paper Tigers

Perhaps in the past the Nationalist Party was something to behold. Perhaps in the past the Liberal Party was something to be respected. But alas like Camelot this has become the stuff of illusions – political shadows and mirrors. The truth is the ever since the beginning the Philippines has been governed by the elite political families – collecting taxes and administering people at the local level. Not dissimilar to the Ancient Roman Republic when these elite were called the nobility or the Patricians. Political parties and beliefs were a means: an image: a vehicle that can be used to achieve political power.

Of course there was from time to time an introduction of new political personalities players: A NEW MAN: Heroes and celebrities, the new rich, Who are voted or rise to power. Plebians in the Republic of Rome their Tribune. And we do have it here.

So does the Liberal Party and its Coalition of Political Parties really that formidable? NO.

And this is because the Liberal Party and its Coalition of Political Parties are Paper Tigers. As Mao Zedong said, “In appearance it is very powerful but in reality it is nothing to be afraid of; it is a paper tiger. Outwardly a tiger, it is made of paper, unable to withstand the wind and the rain. I believe that it is nothing but a paper tiger” (Mao said this in 1946 during an interview with American journalist Anna Louise Strong).

In reality, what props up the President , aside from the military and the police, is not the the Liberal Party and its coalition of political parties but a coalition of political families. Nearly every town and province in the Philippines is ruled by a political families. They may be fat political dynasties, meaning nearly all positions in government is occupied by a family members. Then there are thin political dynasties, the position is handed down from one member to another; one from generation to the next. Changes occur and they do when the locality, the city or town, becomes progressively economically, sometimes.

And that is why it is not uncommon to see political turncoats: political butterflies. And that is why it is not uncommon to see political families fighting each other and even backing different candidates. Regardless of the political outcome the family wins.

Thus the joke that LP stands for Lakas Pa Rin is grounded on self-actuallizing truth.

So the Liberal Party and its Coalition is of no consequence to the politics and election of the President. Look at practice of political and legal self-preservation. The political families must and will survive. And that is why they are keeping mum and choose the winning side.

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The Temptation of Electoral Ostracism: The Ancient Athenian Way

When we speak about democracy it is inevitable that we go back to Athens. Acknowledge as one of the first place were the practice of democracy was started. However. It is a democracy somewhat unfamiliar to us – only a specific group of Athenian males were allowed to vote. And they had instituted certain democratic practices we do not use, although for us it is a social control often employed: Ostracism.

During the time of Pericles and Themistocles the democratic process of ostracism was used. Any Athenian could be sent away from the city for a period of time – 10 years would be the norm as I remember. This was a democratic process similar to an election. The candidate to be ostracised was nominated and he was given two chances to defend himself, refute the charges and convince the electorate not to send him away.

Anyone could be nominated. One could be charge with corruption, a social crime or even becoming too powerful.

And if you “won” your wealth would not be confiscated but you would not be allowed to bring it with you. The ostracized just had to leave.

This was different from the legal process where one could lose one’s property or head. The Great Athenian statesman Pericles was ostracized and even the legendary Themistocles suffered the same fate – ironically the hero and general of the Battle of Salamis ended up as a satrap of the Persian Empire.

In recent years they found archeological evidence of electoral process of ostracism – two jars filled with pieces of clay that bore the name of the electors.

Given the enormity of corruption and incompetence of our leaders; Then compound it with the legal constipation of our courts there are times when I wished, despite its inherent flaws and abuse, we could bring back the electoral process of ostracism, at least one would not be burdened by corruption and incompetence protected by tenure and an army of lawyers.

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Rizal and the Dragon

One of the most common vandalism done during high school was to place an infamous mustouche on Rizal. This was because one of the most popular gossip about Rizal was that he was the father of an Austrian who would later on become Der Furher of the Third Reich, Adolph Hitler. Who had started this rumor no one can tell but it was there. Almost as persistent as the portrait Rizal in an overcoat. There are probably more people know about it than people who knew about the retraction controversy or Rizal’s essay on the laziness of Filipinos or his prediction about the country a  century after his time. 

For most of us Rizal is the National Hero. But do we know Rizal beyond Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterisimo and Mi Ultimo Adios ? Or do we just accept him as the National Hero who was shot in Bagumbayan?
If he was not shot that fateful day would we know him? Do we know him now?
If Rizal had lived beyond Bagumbayan one of the people in Filipino Society and The world would probably know him because of dragons.

During Rizal’s exile in Dapitan, he was able to do a number of things that he probably would be unable to do one because he had the time and two because he was in Mindanao. 

Rizal became a school master and he started a school where he developed his own curriculum his own O.B. Rizal.  And with his students, Rizal the naturalist began collecting the several specimens of flora and fauna or plants and animals of Mindanao. 

At that time he had one of the largest private collection of sea shells in the country. His collection had around 340 shells composed of more than 200 species. 

Rizal and his students collected a big number of birds, insects, butterflies, shells, snakes, and plants, most of which he sent to Europe, mostly to Director A.B. Meyer of the Anthropological and Ethnographic Museum of Dresden in Germany. 

For instance, in October 1893 , Rizal sent Meyer the following : twelve snakes; one sea horse; two scorpions ; and a number of butterflies.

In exchange Meyer paid Rizal in kind : Meyer sent back scientific books and journals; artificial eyes; microscopes and surgical equipment. 

And Rizal kept on sending specimens to Europe. But it was not only volume or amount of specimens he and his boys sent that mattered. Mindanao was not yet fully explored at that time and there were several scientific gems found in the treasure Rizal and his students to Europe. Naturalists and biologist praised the rare specimens discovered by Rizal and company. Now one way naturalist and biologist honored people was by adding their names to the scientific name among them can be found the following:

The Beetle Apogonia rizali HELLER 1897;
The Fungus Beetle Spatholmes rizali;
The rare frog Rhacophorus rizali Boettger,1899;

And the Dragon: the  flying Dragon : the Draco Lizard or Draco Rizali. Here is a specimen and picture of the dragon collected by Dr. Edward Harrison Taylor on March 11, 1923,

Link to see the Draco Lizard

The flying dragon are tree lizards that only come down from the trees to lay their eggs. And they got their name from their ability to glide. This is because they can extend their ribs and skin flaps to form wings. 

Rizal being Rizal a Renaissance Man was not limited to teaching and biology. His interest in geography and archeology were also important since he was able to make contributions to that body of knowledge about the Philippines. 

In a letter (written in Spanish by Rizal and translated by scholars into English for us ) to his Austrian friend Ferdinand Blumentritt, Rizal speaks of his life in Dapitan. Buying land and becoming farmer naming the trees he has on his land. He also mentions the weather how it is more personally more agreable than Manila; his inability to practice medicine ;  and how he missed civilized life :
“I am very far from the incessant and indefatigable life of civilized Europe where everything is discussed, where everything is placed in doubt, and nothing is accepted without previous examination, previous analysis – the life of the societies of linguistics, ethnography, geography, medicine, and archaeology… ”

He does mention though Nature
“…But on the other hand, I am nearer nature, I hear constantly the song of the sea, the murmur of the leaves, and I see the continuous fluttering of the palms stirred by the breeze.”

I would like to think that based on what Rizal and his students have done that in fact Rizal had found a way to appreciate the Nature and Culture of Dapitan and Mindanao and at the same satisfy his thirst for knowledge and discovery … Becoming the Rizal without the overcoat or Rizal and the Dragons of Dapitan.

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