Erap mirrors the Filipino consciousness
by Jaime T. Licauco

Phil Daily Inquirer, Lifestyle "Estrada represents what every Filipino unconsciously wants to be", May 22, 2001 - Inner Awareness

ALTHOUGH I don't normally discuss national issues or politics in this column as a matter of personal policy and preference, I have been besieged by readers, friends and acquaintance to comment on what's happening to our country and where I think all these events are leading. So let me deviate slightly from my usual theme.

The ouster of President Estrada from office long before his term is over has been accurately foreseen by many Filipino psychics as soon as he took his oath of office. What happened to him is part of his personal karma. An intuitive channel told me she saw Erap as the reincarnation of the Biblical thief, Barabas, who was crucified at the left side of Jesus Christ more than 2,000 years ago. Erap is simply harvesting what he has planted in the past. Those who are now still with him were probably part of his karmic partners during Barabas' gangster days in Israel.

What is happening to the country, on the other hand, is part of our collective karma as a nation. We will never attain full industrialization because we refuse to change our consciousness or awareness. The Philippines will remain an economically backward country unless we change our traditional, ingrained pattern of thinking and our negative attitude toward life.

The greatest enemy of our country is not our leaders, although they have much to answer for our situation, too. But really, our greatest enemy is our own people. As I had pointed out in a letter to the editor of various newspapers several years ago, the Filipino people have "a genius for stupidity."

It takes genius, for example, to elevate an inveterate drunkard, gambler, womanizer, liar and a school dropout with a questionable intelligence to the highest position in the government and yet expect him to run the country well.

And it takes genius to be willing to die for a man who has robbed you of your money, dignity and hope merely because he was jailed and treated like an ordinary criminal, which is what the law says.

Such a trait in our character is unique and extraordinary in the annals of any nation. It will put Mr. Webster out of his wits to define or invent a word to describe what we, as a people, are doing to this country.

We have imposed the trappings of Western democracy on an Asian people who are not ready for it, who do not have the mental make-up, the heart, the will and the attitude to implement or to carry it through. So we have compromised by calling our political system a democracy and putting in place all its structures and outer shell but without the substance and the internal discipline which alone will make it work in reality.

Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was absolutely right when he said that Filipinos are not ready for Western-style democracy. What the Philippines needs is a benevolent, wise and strong-willed leader who will rule with a combination of compassion and an iron hand. It is the sort of leader that Greek philosopher Plato described in his "Republic," that an ideal head of state should be a "philosopher king," or one who is imbued with the principles of philosophy, with the love for truth.

A nation whose policies and rules are based on the assumption that everybody is a cheat and liar unless proven otherwise cannot long endure. Take a close look at our bureaucracy and its rules. It is burdened by elaborate and often unnecessary checks and balances so that nothing ever gets done in the process.

Such a situation cannot be changed overnight. It needs an overhauling, not only of our institutions and structures, but our way of thinking, our consciousness and sense of awareness. We have to begin to trust one another, to be honest and be truthful with one another, to be true to ourselves.

Ours is the only constitution in the world that contains the word "love," so I am told. Yet our relationship with one another is based on envy and fear. We are one of the most negative and suspicious of all people. We don't and can't trust anybody, and for a good reason. Most people really can't be trusted.

When we see something good happening to our neighbor, we at once think he succeeded because he cheated or pulled a fast one over another. We try to pull him down to our level. This has been called "crab mentality" by sociologists. In the end we all lose; the whole nation loses. We are always back to square one.

But even if we completely change everybody in the government, from the smallest government functionary to the president, but without changing their consciousness, we will go back to the same thing all over again in no time at all.

So elections come and go, and we keep on electing the same type of consciousness but with different names, the same dog with a new collar. Erap is merely a mirror of our people's collective consciousness.

He is every Filipino. He is us, whether we like it or not. He represents what every Filipino unconsciously wants to be, that is, to become very rich by any means and get away with it. That's why we can't take what Erap represents out of our system.

Does it take genius to see that?

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