Crisis in the Filipino identity

Thewater shortage that is affecting many municipalities and cities in Metro Manila is thelatest crisis in the Philippines.  Although the problem is mostly confined in Metro Manila, it serves as a wake-up call and a reminder to government officials and water supply company stakeholders to think and plan ahead and to look into the source and supply chain more seriously to prevent or avoid a possible crisis similar to what hit Metro Manila.

How serious is the water shortage?  Here is what’s in the news recently—

“The worst water crisis in nearly a decade”— Bloomberg

“Philippine water shortage affects more than 6 million people” — Associated Press

Before the water crisis, we have heard other crises that hit the Philippines recently like the measles outbreak, rice shortage, and the power supply shortage in Mindanao.  Then there were the two strong typhoons that wrecked havoc in many parts of Luzon late last year.

In Mindanao, aside from the power shortage, there are politically-related crises on issues concerning terrorism, peace and order, theextended Martial Law in the region, and the Marawi humanitarian crisis during and after the siege in the area.

Since mid-2016 after President Rodrigo Duterte took office, the government has also launched a bloody war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives— mostly from poor slum areas and communities— where police forces are blamed for brutality and where unidentified extrajudicial killers shoot drug suspects in blatant disregard of the law and due process.  What is surprising for a Christian nation like the Philippines, and I will call this a paradox, is the fact that the drug war is not even viewed by many Filipinos as one of the crises affecting the Philippines at this time.  This human rights crisis which has deepened in 2018 continues to be a bloody and a violent war.

Going back to the water crisis, a water crisis may be seen as a “great equalizer” in Philippine society because it affects people from all walks of life.

Although most Filipinos tend to take the followingfact for granted, we should remember and be consciousthat our ancient identities are connected to water— as river dwellers or people living near bodies of water.  That is why our tribes and regional affiliations identify us as Tagalogs, Pampangos, Pangasinan, Subuanos, Maranaos, Tausogs, and Dumagats.

There is an old adage that says that water seeks its own level and many interpret this to mean that a person tends to seek out people whom he or she feels are his or her equal andshare his or her mind on issues and concerns.

Like water, we can say that our “Filipino identity” is wandering and is in search of its own level, figuratively, because what we have in the Philippines is not only a water crisis but also an identity crisis.

This identity crisis is most manifested in the political sphere.  A Catholic nation is headed by anti-Catholic president, a popular president with unpopular behavior using foul-mouth language, and a nation with an EJK crisis that violates the Filipino sense of “kapwa,” as the majority of Filipinos have supported or have remained quiet on the drug war that has killed thousands of their fellow citizens.

There are many crises in the Philippines that people can help solve. But the crisis in the Filipino identity is something that the people should work on first or they fall prey to inaction and learned helplessness— when dealing with the crises that hit the Philippines.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California.  His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases.  Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio “Jojo” Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.  You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at