Carvajal: Country of make-believe

Carvajal: Country of make-believe

We like to use highfalutin lingo to make claims that, on closer scrutiny, are on the other side of reality.

In Cebu City, the in-phrase is Singapore-like but, considering the socio-political disarray of the city, it is more like an election campaign mantra than an attainable dream.

Our vaunted democracy is no democracy at all. Only the wealthy elite have political power. The rest of the people, from whom all authority is supposed to emanate, have no party, no representatives, no voice in government.

Leaders boast of world-class facilities, but those of us who know better cringe as what we see and experience are world-class only in the minds of the boasters.

“Solid waste management” signs are painted on garbage trucks. But the fact is that nothing in the way trash is collected and disposed of comes close to even resembling some form of management.

Our rule of law is no rule of law. When the ruling elite steal millions, it takes forever just to try them in court. But when a poor man steals a dozen mangoes, he is hauled off to jail even before the official police report is handed in.

Our universal education is neither universal nor education.

Not all Filipino children get complete basic education as there are never enough schools and many are too poor to go to school. And what education are we talking about when the corrupt people in government and business are products of the country’s prestigious educational institutions.

“This is where your taxes are being spent” should more appropriately read, “This is where some of your taxes are being spent” since a not insignificant slice of our taxes lines the pockets of government officials.

So, what’s real? First and foremost, that 55 million Filipinos are poor is real. The government’s window-dressed figures claim there are only 20 some millions of them. But isn’t 20 million appalling enough?

That government bureaucrats behave strictly as bureaucrats is real. They don’t wait on people but make people wait. They also enjoy complicating the simplest of government transactions.

That corruption is endemic at all levels and in all sectors of our society is also real. That makes real the failure of religion, education and the rule of law.

Learning poverty is real. Our students consistently fail in international reading, math and science comprehension tests.

Our disrespect for the rights of nature is nightmarishly real. We toss garbage all over the place. We pollute our rivers and seas. We are truly nature’s worst enemy in this part of the world.

We are a country of make-believe. We believe we are doing fine when we are not. In fact, we are a dysfunctional society. But the worst part of our dysfunction is that many accept it as normal, even as God’s will, while the few who buck it are so hopelessly disunited to achieve any relevant substantive change.

Thus, we are stuck in a social quagmire with no extrication visible in the near horizon.


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