Domoguen: Our blind spot

Mountain Light

YOU go through a hell of a time that can knock down the carabao in you at any given moment. You pray to God for sustenance and strength.

You stay on even if you are overwhelmed by the people and their deafening voices shouting at you. You are encountering this sea of humanity but in reality, you cannot actually see and hear them all.

You sit on your chair in a board meeting. Later, you saunter around the fields. You feel yourself, flesh and blood, and you are running a high fever. You must ignore what ails you. You are some kind of a god or be banished like trash.

Indeed, at such difficult and defining moments, when you are physically, emotionally and spiritually low, you think you live in a different world.

If you are my age, you feel this way about the internet world. The rule of the game has changed, especially if you are a government operative or an executive.

We try hard to cope with our difficulties and yearn for our Guardian Angels to be close beside us.

Its human beings, who yet bring comfort and makes life warm for us, like this elderly lady I rode with in a jeep last week. “Hello, Mr. Domoguen,” she said, with a smile. “It was a great piece you wrote for us last week. Keep them coming,” she added, with a tap on my shoulders as she alighted from the car.

I smile and nod in return, and I am back to my brooding. Yes, I have been meeting and listening to them all these years – young, old, male, and female in the streets, in the public transport vehicles, and during some gatherings and meetings. They told me the same thing, and I responded with some nod, just like that.

Today, I get it. They have always brought me back to Earth and helped me stay on. I needed to acknowledge and express my gratitude to them now, in this column piece. Like I do on social media with good friends, here is my heartfelt gratitude, “thank you, folks, and God bless!”

I meant to actually write about an important concern affecting our vegetable farmers today. Let me introduce the topic with “Scientific Materialism,” the view that physical reality has absolute primacy in human knowledge. It can blind us to the real world around us.

“This view combines scientific objectivism (science tells us about the real, mind-independent world) and physicalism (science tells us that physical reality is all there is) to define what we are and how we deal with the realities of life,” according to a scientific article on the Scientific Materialism in Aeon Newsletter.

Scientific Materialism assumes that “elementary particles, moments in time, genes, the brain – all these things to be fundamentally real.”

By contrast, experience, awareness, and consciousness are taken to be secondary, and the scientific task figures out “how to reduce them to something physical, such as the behavior of neural networks, the architecture of computational systems, or some measure of information.”

Applied to human beings, Scientific Materialism reduces us into something that is just plain measurable matter that encounters reality as it is manifested “to us only through our measurements, models, and manipulations. Their presence is always based on scientific investigations, which occur only in the field of our experience.”

The Aeon article agrees that we have been blindly following a distorted science whose approaches distorts the truth and creates a false sense of distance between ourselves and the world. Behind this Blind Spot, “which science itself cannot see sits experience: the sheer presence and immediacy of lived perception.”

What to do with it all overwhelms me really? For example, this past week, the dumping of vegetables erupts in the social media because the prices are insanely low at the farmers’ level. The Scientists in Metro Manila, some media, development workers and experts, farmers, almost everyone gets into the fray with their well-meaning voices and bashings.

The language is difficult to understand. Some farmers say we have done nothing for them. Some farmers, in response to our response on the subject of our having done nothing for them, tell us that everything we did is irrelevant if the prices of their products bring them deeper into debt.

A scientist play the role of a god, who needed to review and measure every word we say, every project image published (are these geotagged), every action we have performed (are these published in a scientific journal, and peer-reviewed by professional scientists), or we are but a bunch of liars.

Meanwhile, some guys are in the fray and play politics. Some are in it for their political bosses. They question our accomplishments, which are done for this regime. They tell us that all who are involved in our projects are corrupt. They forget that the DA has been there long and its operatives have served the Republic, the leaders that the citizens have elected into office, and always, the farmers, of course.

I would rather listen to the farmers and their experience on the issue at hand. In the heat of the discussions last week, they expressed what and how they felt about the issue in my direction. This morning, while I sat to write this article, some contacted me on Messenger to express their regrets. I understand their frustrations. After spending days in a queue and then told at the end of the line that the prices of their commodities amounts to P1-2 per kilo only, they did not know what to do to make ends meet and sensible at their end. I would feel it is an insult to my being, profession, and efforts if I were the farmer, myself.

Our experience also tells us that Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, have done so much for the vegetable farmers since he assumed office. Some folks told me I speak these words so I could hold on to my job, like they readily tell the whole world that we are puppets of China and dealers of its products.

God have mercy on us when bad science and politics mix. They would disregard and downplay the experience and sacrifices of our field personnel and farmers except to enthrall everyone with their scientific and economic manipulations with sweet words. So what if the Chinese, Korean, Israeli, Dutch, or any country would come and help the farmers improve their livelihood. No, they would rather have some American names connected to their names but disregard the bilateral relationship and partnership with other nations. In any case, it was not the DA but the Republic itself that welcomed these bilateral relationships.

Meanwhile, here is a gem of thought from a 9th generation vegetable farmer that should not be lost to the DA, “I dare say ... we now have a President who cares; and a DA secretary who listens. I believe in them both, sir,” he wrote to me.

That is true. Never in the history of the Republic and the DA, for that matter, has government invested so much to advance the development of Cordillera agriculture than during the time of President Rodrigo Duterte and Secretary Piñol. In 2018 alone, some P1.7 billion were allocated for the DA’s different programs and projects in the region.

We are going to sit together with our farmers. Everybody, who must help to develop and promote highland agriculture, not themselves and their self-serving interests, are certainly welcome to listen and speak in the gatherings that will follow in the next few days.


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