Courtesy Reuters

The Philippines: Contour and Perspective

The Philippine Republic started the new year, its twentieth as a sovereign nation, with a new President, a partly new and re-shuffled legislature, and something of an innovation in presidential inaugural addresses. "The Filipino," declared President Ferdinand Marcos to his startled listeners, including foreign dignitaries attending the inaugural, "has lost his soul and his courage. . . . We have ceased to value order. Justice and security are as myths. Our government is gripped in the iron hand of venality, its treasury is barren, its resources are wasted, its civil service is slothful and indifferent, its armed forces demoralized, and its councils sterile."

Some felt that the assessment was overly harsh and gloomy, but many agreed that there was sufficient truth in the charges to justify President Marcos' anger; most trusted his judgment as to the intensity of shock treatment required to arrest the national decline and spur his people toward their neglected goals.

The foreign observer is tempted to take this assessment, substantiate it with confirmatory interviews and statistics, summarize it in the conceptual shorthand of modern journalism (under the lash of deadlines and a hundred crises), and probably conclude sadly that the Philippines is just another young, developing nation crumbling under the burdens and pressures of the times, soon to slide over the brink and be lost to the Free World.

What must be borne in mind is that Mr. Marcos' view is that of a Filipino aware of his nation's aspirations and potential, impatient with its shortfalls, and charged with the leadership function of galvanizing his people into action. His is the personally involved, close-up view, accurate within this frame of reference, and probably effectively expressed for the purpose intended.

The interested foreign observer, particularly the American, wants and needs quite a different perspective-one which views the nation in its several dimensions and relates it to place and time. He seeks trends revealed by the past to illumine prospects for the future. In a brief article we can attempt merely to

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