Early this month, I took a break from work with my wife and met up with our daughter in Singapore. The city is constantly moving forward evidenced by its massive infrastructure construction, like extending the underground railway system, which closed Bencoolen St. to all vehicular traffic [limiting access to our favorite Kopitiam food court]. This year, the Gardens by the Bay have stunning and earth-defying display of plants and flowers from all over the world, all housed under two caterpillar domes. Seeing these, I was greatly perturbed on what the pork barrel scam has done to the taxpayers’ money in the Philippines.
Civilized pig sty
In 400 years BC, the City of Pigs of Socrates in Plato’s Republic was conceived as a civilized Athenian society where minimum requirements for human contentment and happiness were made possible.
Blogger Jeff Mason describes the City of Pigs as “a healthy society in which everyone shares the work according to ability and the modest sustenance it provides. The people are not greedy or envious, taking joy or sadness in the successes or failures of their collective enterprises. They have no fancy spices, but honey for sweetness, and wine and conversation for their entertainment. In this way, they live at peace with themselves, protected from covetous invaders by their collective ‘poverty.’ They have nothing that anyone would wish to steal.”
But Glaucon, Plato’s brother, proposed a Fevered City., envisioning a world “of great ambitions, great architecture, literature and even philosophy [where there is] a distinction of noble and base, rich and poor, the superior and the inferior.” More than two thousand years later, as a senior citizen of Philippine Republic, my experience tells me that the City of Pigs of Socrates is more civilized than the Fevered City of Glaucon. Socratic pigs living in the Athenian polis were honorable men (Grecian Republic excluded women in civil society, a precognition of the likes of Napoles).
The pork barrel scam is a picturesque image of governance failure in this republic; it drove our congressmen and senators to the baboyan; it violated the most fundamental principle of democracy and humanity which is anchored on common good and common interest. This violation conjures an image of an utter disregard of ethical and legal parameters of civil society.
Some of our congressmen and senators took a Glauconian path. By separating the “noble and base, rich and poor, superior and inferior”, they were able to pursue personal interest with an elaborate rational scheme using the NGOs to feed the favored members of the animal farm. Pork was good for the ‘noble, rich, and superior’ men [this time, to the woman of substantial bank accounts], depriving the poor, the weak, and the inferior citizens who are the targeted beneficiaries.
Yes, they live in a Fevered City, where the temperature is running high for greed at feverish pitch. They put Glaucon to shame and debased the City of Pigs of Socrates. A health maxim says, one becomes what s/he eats. Then, I prescribe that our erring congressmen and senators go vegan. It is good environmentally. Less pork and other meat products will help reduce green gas emission. Indirectly, it will benefit the general public and the tax payers.
City of God
St. Augustine (354-430 AD) in his book Confessions knew what it was to live like a pig. Upon conversion, he wrote The City of God, where envisioned civil society under the reign of God’s rule. The early Christian community then was a small bunch of followers who lived the teachings Jesus. He elevated the Grecian City of Pigs and the Fevered City to a Roman City of God. Later, he became bishop of Hippo. The name of the city is apropos, because I cannot help but associate Hippo with the hayop hippopotamus and the word hipo i.e., a lusty touch in Pilipino. Today his strict interpretation of the sixth commandment continues to dominate the Catholic confessional box.
But we must credit his mom who worked hard for 30 years for his conversion. This maternal act is translated today in Carroll Gilligan’s ethics of care and is already practiced by global corporations, like Unilever. Duty of care brings the principle of common good to a higher level, advancing the Gaian notion that the 21st century is a feminine century. This is an indictment that male rationalization must be balanced with female care and intuition. Shame on Napoles. She failed the common good and the duty of care test of character.
To the Agustins and the Monicas of Philippine politics, please rise to the occasion and clean up the baboyan. If we administer divine justice, let us send the offenders to Dante Alighieri’s Inferno where the roasting fire will never consume them for eternal punishment. Dan Brown prophesied that Manila is the gate of hell and from here the porkies should be relegated to Dante’s Third Circle (Gluttony for lavish partying), Fourth Circle (Greed for ghost projects), Eighth Circle (Fraud for diverting taxpayers’ money) and Ninth Circle (Treachery for betrayal of public trust).
For some who do not believe in Dante’s hell, they may reflect on the existential idea that hell is other people. Indeed, hell is other people who turned into hayop, no longer human.
City of Man
Once upon a time, we belonged to the Kingdom of the Maharlika and our legend tells us that our parents came from a bamboo node that bore the first malakas and the first maganda. Strongman Ferdinand Marcos attempted to create a New Society and Imelda Marcos, the governor of Metro Manila, dreamed of a City of Man. The Martial Law period mirrored an image of a Glauconian Fevered City, where physical infrastructures, government policies, and cultural reforms were intended to raise the consciousness of the Filipino to a higher purpose of being human. Imelda understood and appreciated the good, the true, and the beautiful. Had the culture of beauty been developed to become a standard of moral behavior, this Republic could have been a shining, beautiful Pearl of the Orient. We can truly claim that everyday is Magandang Umaga.
Our cultural DNA says we are beautiful. We can be beautiful by rebuilding the City of Pigs to a City of Man and to a City of God. We can regain our Paradise Lost. That paradise is a city where the citizens recognize that they are spiritual beings with human activities, and not humans with spiritual [and less than human] activities.
Dr. Emiliano T. Hudtohan earned his doctorate in education at De La Salle University; he is faculty of the Management and Organization Department, Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. He lectures at the Graduate School of De La Salle Araneta University, Graduate School of Social Work of Philippine Women’s University, Manila; Graduate School of De La Salle College of St. Benilde and Graduate School of Business of San Beda College. His email: firstname.lastname@example.org and website: www//emilianohudtohan.com.
The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of De La Salle University, its faculty, and its administrators.