Oh sadness!


The Scream by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch

I rode my bike to a friend’s house in one of the districts in Hanoi. I fixed the room I’ll be staying in for the next eight months. I had to transfer the refrigerator from the ground floor to the floor upstairs as well as to unscrew my bed on the second floor and bring it down to my room on the ground floor, and I had to do the same process, this time in reverse: re-screwing it. I also had to bring several paintings to her mother’s atelier in the third floor. Vietnamese houses have this peculiar architectural idiosyncrasy. They are very narrow and very tall. Houses with more than four floors are the norm, not only that, one has to use the equally narrow stairs just to reach any of the top floors.

After that, I had to ride my bicycle back to my present apartment.

I just arrived in my room, and for a long time, I never felt this tired. I decided to open my emails and write something about my day. Then it occurred to me that I am sad. Solitude, or too much of it, without me expounding on this thesis, can be so devastating. I’ve been so used to being alone that I thought I’ve gone so numb and would never feel loneliness anymore. But right now, after a very long time, I’m so down.

I still receive SMSs from the Philippines, but they are getting more scarce each day. Maybe I just fear being forgotten, being taken for granted, being thought of as non-existent.


I tried to turn on my Windows media player and listen to the songs I ripped from the CDs my friends gave me, but they made me even sadder. The humming of the air conditioning unit even added to this emptiness. I’m scared of waking up one day realizing that nobody really cares for me because I sought for insignificant things in life instead of valuing the things that really matter–my family, the person I am currently involved with and whom I love so much, my friends.

How easily was I lured by worldly things. Is success more important that the moments I share with my family in South Cotabato? For Christ’s sake, I know the answer! But why am I still choosing this over the most important people in my life.

Is sadness just one of the sacrifices I have to offer, notwithstanding my family for the name of success? I think it is laughable.

Oh God, I’m sad.


The Philippines as a failed state (?)

In the recently released report called Failed State Index made by the Fund for Peace Foundation and the magazine Foreign Policy, the Philippines ranked number 56 out of 177 countries that were included in the list. This gave the Philippines a high vulnerability rating. The most vulnerable state in the world is Sudan followed by Iraq and Somalia while the most sustainable states in the world, mostly coming from Scandinavian countries are led by Norway, Finland, and Sweden.

The index rank was based on the indicators identified by the researchers as necessary in creating or maintaining a stable state.

Social Indicators 1. Mounting Demographic Pressures
2. Massive Movement of Refugees or Internally Displaced Persons creating

Complex Humanitarian Emergencies 3. Legacy of Vengeance-Seeking Group Grievance or Group Paranoia
4. Chronic and Sustained Human Flight

Economic Indicators 5. Uneven Economic Development along Group Lines
6. Sharp and/or Severe Economic Decline

Political Indicators 7. Criminalization and/or Delegitimization of the State
8. Progressive Deterioration of Public Services
9. Suspension or Arbitrary Application of the Rule of Law and Widespread

Violation of Human Rights10. Security Apparatus Operates as a “State Within a State”
11. Rise of Factionalized Elites
12. Intervention of Other States or External Political Actors

██ Alert

██ Warning

██ Moderate

██ Sustainable

██ No Information / Dependent Territory

Source: Fund for Peace Foundation

Based on these criteria, the Philippines scored 8.32; the highest possible is 12. The higher the score of a country is the more vulnerable it is for collapse. Norway, the most stable state in the world got a 1.73 overall score while Sudan scored 11.37. However, Fund for Peace said that people in countries that figured in the top spots of the Failed State Index should not panic since this kind of study does not seek to predict when the state will collapse or whether it will disintegrate in the near future. This study will help national policy makes to look into the indicators and try to improve on them if they want their countries to survive strife, famine and all other issues pertaining to national security.

I am very skeptical when it comes to surveys done by western organizations to gauge my country’s, say, human rights index, happiness index, enjoyment as regards sex index, or all other kinds of indexes including this recently released Failed State Index. Not that they are unreliable, in fact, they make sense and are helpful with regard investment policies, economic decisions, or healthcare reform. However, methodology-wise, these American/European based research group failed to take into account other factors (or indicators, as they say) such as cultural diversities and other factors that we simply cannot give numerical value such as ties within smaller social structures or the spiritual dimensions of the community. Moreover, as most of my more radical friends would passionately believe, studies like this are West-centric, that is to say, the perspective used to look at things are that of a white man with all the trappings of his biases and putting forward the interest of rich and developed nations, which, up to a certain degree, I agree.

I once had a conversation with Dr. Raul Pertierra, a professor of Anthropology who teaches in UP, Ateneo, and La Salle. He told me that the Philippines is far from being a failed state. Although its institutions are near-failures if not utter failures, other aspects of the society remain intact such as the family, church, and smaller units of the community. However this won’t be for long. With parents going abroad to provide food and send children to school, the present Filipino family is now more vulnerable than ever; the the people having less confidence with the Roman Catholic Church and its leaders, the Church will not hold on for long as well.

Now what is in store for the Philippines? This blog entry will not attempt to give a grand solution to this problem. In fact the writer of this blog is as confused and as disillusioned as any Filipino anywhere in the world. Still, I’d gamble my all for this country. For what is forthcoming is a new breed of Filipinos who are more aware, more responsible, and with bigger dreams for this country. I’ll stake everything on this country’s youths.