Before the coming of the Spaniards and the Americans, there was already a system of government in different places in what is now called the Philippines.
Only very few people knows that the Sugboanon Bisayan language have already terms about parliamentary rules. The Sugboanon language can practically translate the “Robert’s Rule of Order” that is the standard rule for parliamentary discourse. With this level of development we can expect that our system of government and politics was already well developed. Only very few can understand it nowadays because the concept is different from the American system taught in our schools.
Our legal system follows the American legal system, which is most of the time contrary to our local customs and traditions. One of these traditional concept is the talingsákop.
Talingsákop is a concept similar to philanthropy in English but not exactly the same. Talingsakop is defined as somesome who is pious, altruistic, philanthropic, and humanitarian, etc. who takes upon himself to help or benefit others even if there is no request to do it.
In the field of politics the talingsákop is our ideal politician. Our concept of a leader is that of a loving but strict father. For hundreds of years this concept has been taught to the Filipinos by the Spaniards through the “Patron Saint” system.
A Patron Saint is conceived as a benefactor, protector, guide, etc. He is very good if you follow him but very harsh when you will disobey. This is also our ideal Mayor, Governor, and even President.
But have you ever noticed? Only the town, city, barrio, organizations, and individual have a Patron Saint. A province, congressional district, region, or the whole Philippines have no Patron Saint. This is the reason why a former President once said, “All politics are local politics”.
It means that regional or national politics is measured in terms of local values and culture. It is the reason why those who are educated in our Americanized system of education could not understand why until now we still have “patronage politics”. Money given by the “patron”, even in its talingsakop concept, is viewed as vote-buying but the people viewed it as aid or per diem for the hassle of voting.
Comparing P-Noy and Digong
President P-Noy Aquino had the slogan “Kayo ang boos ko = You are my boss”. It is a manifestation of the American concept of servant-leader. The president, governor, mayor, etc. are the servants of the people. It is a western concept taught in our schools but is not accepted in our culture.
President Digong Duterte is relying on his slogan “Build, Build, Build” and “War against illegal drugs”. As it turns out, President Digong had a better rapport with the people than President P-Noy.
In any barrio or community, there will always be a person who becomes a community leader. He is a sort of local wise man and philanthropists. During the Spanish period he usually becomes the Cabeza de Barangay = Barangay Headman and during the American period and some years after independence was called the Teniente del Barrio = Barrio Lieutenant. The Bisayan term for that kind of person was “ginhaópan”. The ginhaopan had no political power but his power was only through moral ascendancy.
During the Martial Law years of President Marcos he transformed the Barrio Lieutenant into a Barangay Captain and made the Barangay part of the governmental structure. In effect the concept of the ginhaopan became powerful politically.
President Duterte had been a long time Mayor of Davao City and knows the mentality of the ginhaopan and their ascendancy over their constituencies.
In combination with the concept of talingsákop, President Digong assayed the ginhaopan into a formidable political force. Now, even though his presidential term is about to end, his satisfaction rating and trust rating is still very high.
Now, Senator Manny Pacquiao wants to put one over President Digong. Sen. Pacquiao said that he will give free houses, and many free benefits. The Sugboanon word for this concept is “buntawán”. It comes from the base word “búntaw = throw away”.
The millennials (those born from 1980 onward) who are now in the voting age level understand that “buntawán” is not a good kind of leadership.
What I am discussing may sound strange because we have now come to the situation that we have forgotten what was our culture but somehow feel that something is wrong.
This cultural situation is the reason that there is now a great clamor that the MTB-MLE (Mother Tongue Based – Multi-Lingual Education) must be taught properly by competent teachers.