Sino ang mas mangmang?

November 4, 2007. On today’s return flight to Manila from Cebu, I grabbed the Sunday issue of the Philippine Star and came across the readers’ opinion page. The topic of discussion was about plunder-convicted ex-President Joseph Estrada’s possible re-entry in Philippine politics, after being hastily pardoned by President Gloria Arroyo.

I was aghast–the entire portion was filled with condescending remarks against the poor masa. The Philippine Star is, of course, a very tame newspaper, often perceived to be pro-government, that is read widely by the urban middle and upper class.

This kind of condescending mentality is something that really irks me a lot. There is this apparent mentality among the “educated” among us that blame the poor for the election of actors and plunderers like Estrada for they are ignorant and uneducated (a handful of other negative adjectives filled the page, from ill-informed to outright stupid). This can be extended to the mentality that blames the poor for their own misery because they are lazy.

This kind of mentality is exactly the kind of thought peddled by the perpetrators of this condition, to preserve the status quo that these “educated” readers of Philippine Star claim to disdain. These people fail to take the critical analysis that there are external conditions that come into play to maintain this condition. The “masa” are not “uneducated” or poor because they choose to. The prevailing order controlled by a certain few thrives from this condition. Those in control have profited and thrived from various forms of exploitations, from low wages, to the preservation of excess labor and unemployment to miseducation. Besides, I can’t stand it sometimes, that these are the people who may be the same ones who helped install, and whose silence and conservatism helps preserve a president who has long turned to be so much worse–and is actually the same president who, ironically, pardoned their much-hated political masa-idol.

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