I like radical change | Inquirer Opinion

I like radical change

04:30 AM May 13, 2016

“Change is coming,” many Duterte partisans were saying during the campaign, and many more today who are psyching themselves for a Duterte presidency. True, always been true, and maybe especially true in the immediate future.

Many forget, or have been oblivious to, the fact that the only constant thing in life is change. Change is nothing new; it is so everywhere that it can be missed. Nothing stays the same, nothing, and no one.


It is the quality of change and its tempo or pace that defines whether it can easily be recognized or felt. The daily aging of the body is one clear example. It happens every moment but who really remains aware? Its steady pattern lulls us to gloss over it until we actually forget. For a while, that is.

It is not so different with other things in life. When we allow routine to take over, we forget that we are aging, and aging brings us closer to death. Many wise people have said that the greatest sin of man is stagnancy because stagnancy is the greatest lie with the greatest consequence.


Change keeps things from staying the same. Either things get better or things get worse. When what is wrong is not uncomfortable enough to alert us, or painful enough to frighten us, we allow it to fester indefinitely. It is like suicide becomes acceptable as long as it happens slow enough to hypnotize us that it is not happening. Remember the story of the frog who kept swimming mindlessly while the water was being boiled?

Well, politics and governance are not that much different. They can get better, or they can get worse, but mostly worse. The chances of getting worse are higher because the pattern is for things to become routine, to stay the way they are, to stagnate. When they do, they simply get worse.

One thing about life, though, is that it had a fail-safe mechanism – it never forgets even if we do. There always comes a point when we are forced to remember, by sheer discontent or unbearable pain. When we are jolted to see things are they are, we scramble to adjust, even radically. This is the kind of change that most of us understand. This is the change that a Duterte presidency is supposed to represent.

In a country that had been marked with serious illnesses, led by material poverty and ethical degradation, only radical change can disrupt a social and political environment that has kept poverty and corruption firmly in place. President Benigno S. Aquino III tried and kept trying. He triggered significant changes whether people understood or not just how radical some of those were. This is not the time to talk about them, though, as they deserve to be the main focus in a future article.

I will mention one such change as a clear example. Thus far, the only controversy of worth is the allegation of Bongbong Marcos that the administration is cheating in an effort to make Leni Robredo win. Complaints by losers of being cheated are dime a dozen in Philippine politics. No one really loses, only gets cheated. This background lessens the impact of Bongbong’s complaint. That is part of what is traditional, not change. The real change, seemingly unnoticed by a usually vociferous social media and sensationalist traditional media, is the quiet absence of another traditional political occurrence – the partisan role of the military, mainly in Mindanao, and the national police. For those who have long memories of Philippine elections, a non-partisan military and police used to be unthinkable.

A people long starved for good things, even the most simple of human conditions, can naturally be easily agitated for radical change. In the campaign, though, looking at the most passionate portion of it, the Duterte bandwagon did not start from the poor, whether young or old. The fire was lit from Classes A,B,C, using social media to fan a forest fire. Change, then, must also begin from the same social and economic strata. The poor are simply too caught up with their daily survival. They can only wish, they can only follow.

Those, then, who loudly used the slogan “change is coming” and rabidly campaigned for Duterte are the most challenged because, whether they realize it or not, many of them belong to the upper crust of Philippine society. Because they used the Internet and social media, they are part of the upper 50%. Among them, the noisiest belonged to the upper section of the upper 50%. If we are to believe certain statistics related to social media, specifically that with most issues, only 1% initiate, 9% either Like or Share, and 90% do read but do not engage publicly. Those, then, who openly asked for change through Duterte should be leading the charge.


I do not mean that those who were silent did not agree with those who were seen and heard. The poor have always followed what the non-poor think and do to the extent they can beyond their effort to survive and improve the lives of their families. The election victory of Duterte shows that many of the poor did agree with what Duterte and his partisans were promising to do. At the same time, 60% of them with other from the upper crust preferred what other candidates stood for. And governance follows the 100%, not only the aggressive minority. If I listened and read correctly, talk centered on the economic team of the next President, not yet the national anti-crime czar, not yet the national drug-buster.

I like radical change, not violent, but radical. There will no such change unless the priority values of upper society are restructured and formatted to be kinder and more empowering to the poor. Because poverty is the environment that feeds corruption and serious discontent. Because massive poverty highlights the exploitation by the privileged and disrespects the humanity of majority poor. May change be truly coming.

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TAGS: radical change, Rodrigo Duterte
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