Indeed, the scale of this worldly representation of the Word of the Lord fits the society that hosts it. The gigantic size of this now noted Filipino rendering of the Ten Commandments for me is symbolic of the monumental challenge of getting Filipinos to observe the most basic of codes articulating ethical behaviour. The words of Congressman Bernardo Vergara who represents Baguio City which hosts this edifice summarises where the thinkining underpinning this whole enterprise had gone so wrong...
"This beautiful and divine edifice will serve to drive away the evils of spirits that time and again emerge," [said Vergara] at the inauguration. "May it drive away evils of illegal drugs, gambling, prostitution."
I don't know about you, honourable Congressman, but I'm not holding my breath. The "evils" of illegal drugs, gambling, and prostitution are complex social issues that cannot be solved by building in-your-face religious colossuses. Since time immemorial, the mightiest civilisations have adorned their important cities with monuments to their gods. Yet all have succumbed at one time or another to catastrophic decline. Really, there is no substitute for sound governance when it comes addressing "social ills" and maintaining harmony in one's society. And last I heard, government plays an important role in that endeavour.
Perhaps this is but a quaint example of how many of our important government officials seem to have muddled the affairs of the state with the empty appeals to emotion of religious hocus-pocus. But what may seem to be a glib and even innocent remark by a Philippine Congressman reveals the underlying primitivism of 21st Century governance in the Philippines. Public administration is a field that is underpinned by some semblance of coherent logic and method. Falling squarely within the scope of expertise of a public administrator (and those who frame the laws that guide his administration) is the application of sound principles to manage these "evils" Vergara cites. Quite simply, deferring to the black-and-white "morality" of religious dogma and even just implying a reliance on imposing religious icons to implement measures to address social problems is just plain bad form in a society that aspires to modernity.