One evening, my wife and I had a lively discussion—a spirited exchange of views— about issues involving the goings-on in society in general. But more particularly the discussion revolved around her observations on my attitude towards what our government is doing. She thought there is something basically wrong in my perceptions on the programs and projects which the government purportedly pursues to solve the problems of society.

She said, “Why do you invariably take any and all programs and projects of the government with a negative reaction? Isn’t there anything good at all the government has done or is doing for our country? Isn’t there something beneficial it has done to the people?”

I wanted to interrupt her with a prompt reply. But I let her be, and she continued, “Why do you outrightly dismiss any undertaking it pursues as futile. . . as useless. . .as fruitless. . .as wrong or bad!”

I was a little shocked by the passionate or seemingly exasperated way with which she advanced her queries. And so I reacted with equal passion, “It’s all a waste of money—or both human and material resources, by going through all those programs and projects that are bound to fail! They won’t redound to uplift the people from poverty! They would just exacerbate the conditions of underdevelopment of our country.!”

And she retorted, “You seem to prejudge the effectivity or ineffectivity of the programs! You don’t appreciate at all the efforts and good intentions of our public officials. Surely, there must be some good they have done to our society? All you do is rant, rant, rant. . .!”

My response: “Yes, there may be some good the government is doing for a select few in our society. But it does not redound to the benefit of all. . .”

“But you cannot expect a project to be like magic that it will result to a quick improvement of society or that it will immediately benefit everyone all at once! Any program or project entails a time frame, di ba?

“We are not concerned with short-lived benefit or amorphous improvement on a certain aspect or part of the society. What it should do is design an over-all or comprehensive plan that incorporates any and all programs and projects –something that will result in an enduring progress towards the transformation of society. Not just a kind of ‘mending this or that‘, somewhat like taking an analgesic tablet for a headache which is only a symptom of some serious disease in an internal organ of the body.”

“Is it not in the natural course of development that change can happen only slowly and part by part, such that it will take time before total social transformation can come about? Maybe, you’re just too much in a hurry? You want drastic changes to take place in a short time?”

“No no no! What the government should have done from the very start is chart a vision of a future society based on a nationalist outlook and egalitarian ideal. And this envisioned social order to be constructed necessarily proceeds from a scientific analysis of concrete social conditions, not just a subjective fancy of some ill-informed politician. From this concrete analysis, the social disease will be identified and once identified can b e correctly diagnosed. Only then can a societal architecture be designed and worked out—what we shall call a comprehensive plan/program of development that will guaranty progress and eradication of poverty among the masses of our people. ”

“Don’t you think the government, with all the brilliant people therein, has not made an analysis of our social conditions? I do think that our Presidents, past and present have identified the root cause of our problems. And it is corruption! That is what is wrong with our society, and it is the root cause of poverty!”

“That’s the common perception of our people. Yes, it would seem that corruption is the root cause of our longstanding social ills. And it is good that you have identified one of these social ills – poverty. Or underdevelopment. But, I tell you, corruption is not really the root cause. In fact, corruption is only a detestable consequence of a much deeper and prior causal phenomenon.

“Unless this primordial cause is addressed, any and all, programs and projects will amount to be mere stopgap measures and are bound to fail. No administration since the time of Manuel A. Roxas has ever come to terms with this prime cause. No Philippine president would like to admit that this is the primary cause of all our social problems. This has become a fait accompli for every administration—a necessary evil which even if any or all of our political leaders are cognizant about, no one among them would like to admit because it benefits him and his cohorts, enormously.”

“Unsa man nang imong giingon? [What is that you’re talking about?] How did you arrive at such conclusive presumption? I’m sure that is just another name.”

“You need to revisit and reexamine the history of our Republic, before you are able to appreciate the reality of this evil.”

Asus! Pabasahon na pud ko nimog history books?” Kapoy na! [Jesus! You’ll require me to read again history books? Tiresome!] Just reveal it to me, and I’ll begin to study history.”

“That’s the trouble with us. We are too lazy to trace the history of a disease.”

“And so, foreign imperialism—specifically, US Imperialism—is glossed over! No politician would like to accept its reality in our social system. It is the root of all our problems, including corruption. As a matter of fact it is what engenders corruption in government bureaucracy. It is what institutes puppetry among our public officials. US Imperialism is the director of our system.”

“Pero, angay nimong ipatin-aw kun unsa nang imong gitawag og Imperialism. [But you need to elucidate what is the nature of what you call Imperialism.]

“Yes, I will propound on that shortly. But right now, let’s go to bed.”

[N.B.: Watch for the continuation of this discussion in my next article.]

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