I meant to write this entry in time for the 112th Independence Day of Las Islas Filipinas last June 12, but I was caught up in a few things, so I'm making this pahabol entry.
Still it disturbs me that we mark our independence day on the declaration of the first Philippine republic in 1898 when in fact we were sold for a measly 20 million dollars by the Spanish to Uncle Sam, marking the start of fifty years of American colonization until it was formally granted to us in 1945.
According to the authors, burgis as a label is both an economic condition and sensibility. A burgis lifestyle for instance can mean having disposable income for trips abroad or also a Westernized mindset that separates the burgis from the masa (masses).
The book's introduction mentioned that "[t]o understand the role of the burgis in our society, we need to take a good look at our history," after all, the burgis played a major role in the many upheavals in Philippine history. Our national hero, Jose Rizal, was clearly burgis as a member of the ilustrado class (the so-called "enlightened ones" who were educated in Europe). All of the Filipino presidents were burgis. And of course, the People Power movement that toppled Marcos was largely a middle-class revolution.
The History of the Burgis thus traces the evolution of the burgis: how they came about, their many incarnations, and their very profound impact on Philippine society (either as collaborators of the colonial governments or as instigators of change). The book has comics-style illustrations, deftly playing on the events and people that mark history, making it fun and easy to read (it's far from a hard-core history book).
The authors best say it: "Burgis is being removed from the realities of a developing country. It is being trapped in a First World consciousness while living in the Third World. It is ignorance and disinterest in how a nation's bounty can be shared by all of its citizens" (p. 14).
While seriously treading dangerous waters here, it has crossed my mind why the Philippines is not going the direction Thailand's rural class just recently took. In fact, the income gap in the Philippines is much, much, much wider than Thailand. And maybe I can also safely imagine that corruption is way much worse in the Philippines, no?
At least with a culture that encourages criticism against the government and the elites, I still see a little bit of hope among the new generation of burgis. I noticed that there's quite a strong political consciousness among the educated class, especially in these days of easier exchange of information and views.
However, getting an example from the recent elections, the so-called "educated vote" remains right at the top, and their message failed to trickle down to the masses, thus explaining why half of the elected senators in last month's elections are movie actors. A huge gap does still exist in terms of making informed decisions (as an example) and unfortunately our dysfunctional educational system continues to fail the rest of the Filipinos.