There was an odd story that spread on social media recently about a public official, a Mayor in a Mexican City, being overwhelmed by a group of farmers and dragged around town behind a pickup truck ostensibly for his failure to deliver on his campaign promises.

The scenario was something that is hard to imagine ever happening in a Philippine setting. Yet the premise of the action of the Mexican farmers, extreme and violent as it was, is a familiar reality in Philippine politics. Here and most everywhere in the world, politicians make promises during the campaign and they don’t necessarily deliver when elected.

There is also a stereotypical image of the Filipinos having a collectively short memory. We are reportedly prone to repeat the harsh lessons of the past because we tend to forget them quickly, or even worse, revise our history. There is some truth to this, as evidenced by the resurgence of Marcos-era politics. Decades after we banished it as a people in EDSA, it has come back alive such that there’s a queer chance we could have a new vice president rising from its ashes.

This is hard to ignore, but there may be something in the 2019 World Population Review study stating that the Philippines has the lowest collective IQ in the entire ASEAN – a score of 86. Compare that to the region’s supposedly smartest people, the Singaporeans, whose collective IQ is 108, followed by Vietnam with 94 and Malaysia with 92.

We may take comfort in the observation that while we are not exactly the smartest people on earth, the same study showed several very affluent countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates two rungs below us in the ladder – they have common score of 84. Except that the Arabs have oil and can thus afford to be dumb. But take note that Vietnam, despite having been completely ravaged by war in the late ’60s, has already surpassed us.

Consider Transparency International’s 2019 ranking of the Philippines as 78th among 175 countries in terms of corruption. It is, at the least, a sordid suggestion that we are in the dump as a people and we badly need a resurgence, a renaissance of sorts.

We will not condone dragging a mayor behind a pick-up truck as a solution to change. There are more palatable and legal ways to do it, primarily that we should stop electing dumb leaders to public posts.

It is easier said than done because it appears we need to work first and foremost on our intellectual ability to choose the right leaders.

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