Marketman has a political/economic short circuit on his food blog…

Two items from yesterday’s and today’s Philippine Daily Inquirer have triggered this extremely rare rant on economic/political issues. I have always had very strong opinions regarding the loss of national talent, as our countrymen are forced (mostly due to economics) to seek jobs overseas or face unemployment, underemployment or at the extreme end, even starvation. I have also lamented the fact that our white collared professionals are likewise departing, emigrating, working abroad for other reasons (intellectual stimulation and challenge, proper management, fair treatment, leading edge technologies, etc.) in addition to the economics. Recent surveys report that a huge percentage of those asked would leave the country if an opportunity and visa presented itself. I myself studied, worked and lived abroad for over 12 years before moving back home. Recent comments on this blog regarding OFW labor by some readers almost resulted in a post on the topic, but I suppose I needed more of a “tipping point,” and these two recent news items provided it. The first item was a graph in yesterday’s Inquirer that showed comparative labor wages in selected Asian countries (compiled by Kate Pedroso of Inquirer Research and sourced from the National Wages and Productivity Commission). I presume the data referred to total daily wages of similar workers in each country: Taiwan $15.99, Malaysia $14.36, Philippines $7.22, Thailand, $5.61, China $3.35, Indonesia $3.31, Vietnam $1.25.

A quick search on the internet yielded the per capita GDP from Wikipedia (using Purchasing Power Parity PPP in 2005) in each of the countries mentioned above: Taiwan $27,122, Malaysia $11,160, Philippines $4,770, Thailand $8,542, China $6,193, Indonesia $3,853, Vietnam, $2,782. So what’s the beef(s)? Okay, so Filipinos employed in the Philippines apparently have some of the HIGHEST daily wages in the region!! That should be good, right? But if that is so good, why are 8+ million educated, intrepid, driven, hungry, adventurous and desperate countrymen voting with their feet and heading elsewhere to earn a living? Why are they putting up with often difficult conditions in countries that I would call less than the garden spots of the planet? Why do they put up with crap of the foulest kind in order to earn wages that are just a few times above those listed above as the average daily wage at home? Why does a college graduate with an Education degree and teacher’s credentials work as a nanny in HK for roughly $15 a day, and does the work of 4 equivalent staff in a Makati or Alabang household? Or worse, the same job in Kuwait or Oman or Brunei at just $8-10 a day? If our local wages were so HIGH and attractive, why are we the only country shipping out labor like it was coconut oil (Indonesia labor exports are also increasing, but to specific markets and specific blue collar roles)? Doesn’t anyone else see the fact that Taiwan, with a per capita GDP at 5.5x the Philippines, only pays its laborers an average of 2.2x our own? Or that Vietnam, with a GDP just half of ours, pays 1/5th our wages? Does this mean that our minimum daily wage is in fact too HIGH??? That it possibly results in the employment of tens of millions of folks who are then in turn relatively OVERPAID for the work that they do in the context of a regional comparison? In other words, encouraging the laggards and discouraging the several million folks who have figured out their future is better served elsewhere on the planet and they thus leave permanently or temporarily? Not to mention discouraging dramatic increases in capital investments as companies find the labor here relatively overpriced?

But the natural evolution of this discussion has to be: what does the daily wage buy you in return? Or, in other words what is labor productivity? And it is here that the front page quote attributed to President Arroyo, simply irks me no end, and I quote “No one can beat the Philippines when it comes to fiscal discipline, and the Filipino people when it comes to productivity and excellence.” ARRRGGHH!!!! I just wanted to throw up my high-calorie serving of French toast from breakfast!!! Certainly our fiscal position as evidenced by the budget deficit is improving relative to the last few years, however are we just going to ignore the fact that we spend less per student PER YEAR in our public schooling system than some western countries spend in minutes??? That our road and other infrastructure requirements have experienced minimal improvements since the 1970’s? That our brand new airport sits unused for four years almost finished, mired in legal battles? That our “skyway” runs for just a few kilometers and ends abruptly, and that we have to take our cars off road one day a week to prevent gridlock? That we are considered one of the most, if not THE MOST corrupt country in the region, and that an unestimated portion of the government’s annual budget just goes “POOF” into thin air? ARRRGHHH!!! That we purchase thousands of bloody lamps for the ASEAN summit at PHP85,000-300,000 a piece when they were made in China for just PHP8,000 or so (lower daily wages, you think)??? Is that FISCAL DISCIPLINE??? That we suddenly, days before the May 2007 elections, are spending 10x or more the typical amount of money to fix sidewalks, bridges, roads, markets, etc. so that the expected deficit for the next few months is PLANNED to be out of whack due to sudden “constructionitis,” a disease rooted in overpriced contracts and questionable projects fueled by billions in government budgets and even more billions in Senate and Congress chicharon barrel funds? What do politicians think, just because they say something glossy, the world will be glossy? Does is just TOTALLY skip people’s minds that the PRIMARY and LARGEST cause of a falling deficit is the SERENDIPITOUS decline in global interest rates COMBINED with a strong peso (more below) that has effectively wiped out TENS OF BILLIONS of pesos from our annual interest payments on our spectacularly large foreign loans, that now well exceed FOUR TRILLION pesos equivalent, if I am not mistaken? A 5% increase in global interest rates and a 20% decline in the peso would WIPE out all of the supposed gains in our FISCAL BRILLIANCE, so to speak!!! Actually, a 5% increase in interest rates on 4 Trillion in debt outstanding would result in as much as PHP100-150 billion (depending on loan tenors and terms) in additional annual interest payments, ballooning our current deficit by 300%!!! I could go on and on about this sub-topic alone, but you get my drift…

As for productivity, where are the President’s speechwriters and spinmasters getting their DATA from??? According to productivity statistics of the Asian Productivity Organization in Japan, the Philippines was the WORST country in the region (of countries tracked) when it comes to productivity gains. In fact, from 1988-1995, Taiwan’s productivity index rose by 40%, Malaysia 43%, Thailand 60+%, while the PHILIPPINES rose a measly 2%. Worse, in a different method of presenting labor productivity gains from 1995-2001, the Philippines recorded average productivity gains of just 1.56% per annum (almost completely attributed to a huge rise in the year 2000, probably due to measurement methodology changes) compared with annual increases of Taiwan 4.60%, Vietnam 4.99% and Malaysia 3.76%. In other words, WE ARE NOT THE MOST PRODUCTIVE, in fact, FAR FROM IT!!! Wake up and smell your barako! Filipinos as individuals can be, and are, in fact, some of the most productive, successful, intelligent, individuals on the planet, but I would posit the theory that 8+ million of them have in fact voted instead to be productive, successful and intelligent SOMEWHERE ELSE, providing an economic boost to their foreign host countries, and simply leaving a small portion of their hard-earned wages to be remitted back home to take care of some 40+ million of their relatives or NEARLY HALF THE ENTIRE COUNTRY’S population (assuming that each worker partially or fully supports five back home).

The government reported roughly $12 billion remitted back by OFW’s per annum through official banking channels last year. Doesn’t it also worry you that NO ONE HAS BOTHERED to point out until now that that figure represents only a fraction of the real sum, since dollars sent in cash or brought by returning OFW’s is not captured, nor goods sent by balikbayan boxes for that matter? If we were to believe the $12 billion figure, then each OFW toiling abroad would only be sending home $125 a month on average, which is simply way too little considering that many household workers in HK and laborers in the Middle East send home at least $300 home per month…and I am not counting the nurses, seamen, investment bankers, etc. If I were to estimate an adjustment on that figure based on the fact that money comes back heavily OUTSIDE of official banking channels, then the amount flowing into the country could be as much as $24-30 billion equivalent per annum, or, HELLO??!???, roughly 2/3 the total amount of the Philippine EXPORTS of manufactured goods and minerals, etc. In other words, clearly, LABOR is our BIGGEST BLOODY SINGLE EXPORT.

Bizarrely, this $24 billion or PHP1.2 trillion (PHP3 billion a DAY or PHP130 million AN HOUR) in funds is what is BUOYING the local economy (along with several billion in what are called hot funds that streamed into our stock market), resulting in billions and billions of pesos in sales of cell phones, load, computers, televisions, microwaves, shabbily built medium cost housing, clothing, food, fastfood, toys, karaokes, beer, airline and ferry tickets, motorcycles, etc. Also bizarrely, because so much cash is coming back in, the free-floating exchange rate is making the peso stronger, so all the poor folks toiling elsewhere and sending money back home now have their relatives reporting that their money buys a LOT LESS locally because the peso has gotten 15% stronger in the past 2 years. All of this hard currency is also making it easier for us as a nation to just import things made elsewhere, rather than trying to make it ourselves. We now import bags, clothing, electronics and street lamps from China, food from elsewhere in Asia and all the components, etc. needed for our electronics exports as well. And all of this brilliant business activity is making my favorite tycoons of dubious provenance (who will remain unnamed) EVEN RICHER, and companies pay far more taxes (customs, income, VAT) so that WHAT??? THE FISCAL DEFICIT DROPS!!! YES!!! And our President can claim a brilliant success??!!!

Outrageous!!! And what of the consequences??? Is this all really so bad? Am I just in a bad mood? Looking at the glass half empty rather than half full? Shall we just forget that 80% of the productivity of these 8 million people that benefits their host countries, not our own, and rightfully so? Forget that millions of couples are separated for long periods of time and that children are growing up in single parent or no parent households, often with an odd or warped sense of what is right and wrong? Forget that to make up for our absences, we indulge kids with the latest gadgets, large allowances, luxuries that are in no way related to improving their intelligence or future capacity as capable and self-sufficient human beings? Forget that we are using these funds to continue to send our kids to schools of declining quality, with textbooks marred by hundreds of factual and grammatical errors, so that they in turn may have an even smaller chance of finding good jobs in the future? Forget that despite couples split up for 99% of the year, we continue to have one of the highest population growth rates in the region, and probably one of the lowest demands for Viagra, with babies popping out at a dizzying pace, literally? Gosh, I momentarily felt bad for the teeth of all those mothers, won’t they fall off? Forget that of the folks remaining in the Philippines, fully 40% STILL FALL BELOW the poverty line, despite all of the money coming in from abroad, and some of the highest minimum wages in Asia, and a reported low unemployment rate???

And Marketman’s personal conspiracy theory? We continue to ENCOURAGE all of this so that we don’t actually have to do much work back home to keep things afloat. It’s easier to send 8+ million capable folks to other economies rather than dealing with them at home, particularly if they happen to be on average more self-starters, more likely to question illogical behavior, and more determined to uplift their situation in life. Imagine if we had to provide social services, medical and health benefits, public transportation, water, electricity, waste treatment facilities for another 8 million people? That would be the equivalent of maybe 2 whole new Metro Cebu areas in terms of people!!! And better yet, the politicians and government, in effect, have now effectively “removed” 8 million of the “primest” VOTERS in the country, or as much as 25% of the total vote eligible population. This leaves the choice of our next public officials to the folks left back here at home, and a smattering of those abroad who bother to vote through absentee ballots. These same folks who in past have voted in actors, potential nutcases and other unqualified individuals into public service. The same voters who are more likely to happily watch the brain-numbing noontime television shows, that either feature a chance to win the millions that will forever change their life, or engage in dramatic alternating screaming/sobbing matches of which previous Spanish colonies seem to excel, or dance in a group facing the camera to catchy music, like perfecting their dance steps was the most important moment of their existence. The elected officials are those who then in turn perpetuate this downward spiral into a poorer, less educated and less positive nation of citizens whose ONLY remaining glimmer of hope is to be rewarded in the “after life” for all of their suffering in this one.

I mean, have you seen the current senatorial line up of both sides??? I can’t even find 5 people to vote for on my ballot! So what is the point of this rant other than to let off steam? Number 1, high minimum wages is not necessarily a good thing. Number 2, we are not in fact, anywhere near the most productive nationals in the region (at least not the ones based back home), Number 3, the glossy fiscal numbers will evaporate into thin air if global interest rates start to rise dramatically AND the foreign exchange rate drops to say PHP 75 to USD1, where our labor competitiveness starts to look more realistic (but we will not reach in the near future because of the artificial double-edged sword of huge OFW remittances) and Number 4, vote wisely or if live abroad, tell your relatives at home that are living off of your largesse and generosity to vote wisely, so that we can break this vicious downward spiral into oblivion.

Most of you, including myself, will not recall that the Philippines was once one of the wealthiest, best educated, most promising economies on this side of the Pacific Ocean, not more than just 50 years ago or just 2 brief generations back. And what could have been achieved in less than five decades? A backwater called Singapore has emerged into its powerhouse state, Japan has, well, become JAPAN, China has shorn its communist mantle and become the most consistent and fastest growing “capitalist” economy for the past 15 years, South Korea, Taiwan, and even Thailand have long since surpassed us, etc. So cut the crap and call a spade a spade. Recognizing our current pathetic national situation and working our asses off to improve it is the only way we are going to claw our way back to a shadow of our old glory. Or we can just all seek work abroad, line up for emigration, give birth in the U.S. or the West to acquire blue passports for our kids, and just leave everyone else (who are unable to comprehend what this post is about) behind, to happily watch each other gyrating to a mindless beat on a noontime television show… Or even worse, ignore the obvious, head over to the Fort and have a cup of tea and some Food for the Gods at A Different Bookstore while flipping through the latest cookbooks, as I did one day last week, and watch a previous first lady with big hair float into the shop accompanied by 10 bodyguards, yayas and alalays to do some browsing, only to sweep regally out a few minutes later and carry on with life as if nothing really mattered…

NEWS FLASH!!! Just hours after I posted this, I read with interest an article in the Inquirer Monday, by Washington Sycip of AIM and SGV fame entitled “Freedom and politicians not good for the economy” which is actually an edited version of his keynote address during the Asian Business Conference. It is worth reading if you read my post above with interest…


63 Responses

  1. My father used to work for the government but he was the most persistent for the whole family to migrate to the US. He was not happy with what was happening and he can not do anything so here we all are now and after making sure that the whole family is settled he has finally rested and I thank him for that. I am now a US citizen and have not returned to Phils. since we all left. What I knew then and what I know now has not really changed CORRUPTION is the real demon in the country ,that is why for every step one makes, better expect to make 3 steps backward or more. If only the leaders will go beyond themselves and really help and do the right thing without first thinking of whatever material gains they will get and then I guessed it could be a start. Lots of people read you and gravitate towards you, make lots of honest noises and I believe a lot of people if not all will stop and listen and who knows what these people will and can do. My prayers will be with all your good causes.

  2. Thank you MarketMan, for saying it all for me. You have expressed my anger and frustration. I have almost given up – I see no ligh at the end of the tunnel. What gets me most of all is that crooks are not made to account for their crimes. Instead they are looked up to and admired.

  3. You hit the nail on the head. I recall that idiot Joey Salceda saying that how could it be possible that we were ranked as the most corrupt country in Asia since our revenue collections were rising. He claims that most corruption occurs on the collection side of the equation. Of course only a “financial genius” ex-congressman, and jueteng recipient would say such a thing. He would make us believe that there is no such thing as corruption when it comes to government spending, what with pork barrels, agricultural funds, lamp posts contracts, etc. all spent with absolutely no one making s scandalous buck. No congressman, senator or cabinet secretary has ever been put behind bars for stealing the people’s money, and of course that would be proof that we are not a corrupt country. We have billionaire city mayors, but maybe they were just in the right place and time when God made it rain gold.

    I am related to the presidential family, and I have heard the scandalous wealth that this family has acquired in the short time they’ve been in power. It’s Erap all over again, albeit more discreet. Jueteng money comes in sack loads, with no such things as checks or local bank accounts. Everything is paid for in cash, from jewelry to the hookers they employ. We have a kleptocracy that hides behind the veil of democracy, and we are all too blind or numb to make a change.

  4. Your post today says it all for me… true, so true. There is a migration of labor because there are not enough jobs in the Philippines. Anyone, especially a college graduate who is unemployed, would rather choose to earn a minimal salary as a nanny in Hongkong or elsewhere than stay home in the PI hopelessly waiting for a job opening. The whole thing is a cycle: few job openings, few new employers, lack of capital investments, especially, from abroad. Why? Because, as the Philippine Inquirer often reminds us, the PI is considered to be one of the most corrupt and unstable countries in Asia. Until this corruption and the grievances of the underclass are addressed, the downward spiral of our country will continue. The continuous rosy pronouncements of the Phil. government concerning the economy,standard of living, prductivity, etc., are to be expected. These officials are just “politicking”. Every Pinoy who is capable of ordinary thinking knows the truth: poverty is rampant in the country, and the average citizen is barely making it. Were it not for the remittances that arrive every month from OFWs, the situation in the country for most people would really be hopeless and desperate.

    I know that in the PI, there are a lot of activists that try to improve the situation. But it seems that “bad things” keep happening to them. I just wish that the clergy would become a bit more involved, in spite of the current pope’s prohibition of political agitation and participation. After all, let us not forget that we have a tradition of clergy activism in the PI. It seems that it is only when a priest gets involved in an issue that some results are obtained. Perhaps, the clergy in the PI have to be reminded that Pope John Paul had been an inspiration for the overthrow of communism in Poland.

    It would be great if more “good and qualified people” would run for poltical office. We need people who are truly aware of the situation in the country. Your post shows that you are one of them. How about it MM? Ever considered politics?

  5. Bravo, Marketman, for saying it like it is.

    Like you, I love food, grew up here, lived abroad for a very long time (more than half my life), and decided to come back. I couldn’t agree more with everything you stated in your post.

    I work for the government (Ilag! Ilag ulit!) but I won’t bother to defend it. I see a lot of the crap you describe every single day. When I moved back here, all- not most, but all- of my friends had the same response: “Bakit?”

    I’ve been enormously privileged to study, work, and live in some of the world’s most desirable places, and I enjoyed it all. I came back not because I had to (I didn’t), or bcause the Philippines is the best country in the world (it isn’t), or because opportunities here are better for me than anywhere else (they aren’t). I came back because this is the only place in the world I care about, and it was about time I did something about it.

    I share all of your frustrations, and those of many of our countrywomen and men. In my own way, through my job and my “sidelines” in the private sector, I try my best to do my part. It’s a tough slog, for the most part, and I take it one day at a time, step by step. I don’t know if it makes a difference, and I am constantly torn between the difficulty of working for and in a government I despise, and the desire to effect change in some way, shape or form. Ay, basta na lang, bahala na, sana may pakinabang naman ang ginagawa ko.

    Meanwhile, I’m glad to know there are people who feel the same way. And who enjoy food as much as I do. I didn’t move back to the Philippines for the food, but it’s a big added bonus! ☺

  6. My father worked transparently and secretly with different government administrations until he died. All of his siblings went to US and acquired citizenship, he was the lone who decided to stay-hoping things will get better back here. He never thought migrating was an option, he was to idealistic and thought he rather continue to help than run and contribute taxes to a foreign land.
    That is because we have our enough means/resources to stay here but how about those who’d be starving if they rather stay home? I understand the desire to leave. Government cannot support nor sustain the needs of its people. Ever heard of recent cost of living in Manila? Geez, with such a small amount of money how can somebody feed their family with nutritive sufficient food??? Had to make do with packed noodle and an egg with lots of broth to feed the whole family(at least 5) in one meal!!! It is such a pain to see poor becomes poorer and the rich,richer! There is an emerging large gap in economic strata.
    If my dad was still alive, I can imagine him cussing every morning reading the newspaper(which should be delivering FACTS). And unlikely he’ll transparently or secretly support a politician this coming election. He’ll probably decide to just go out of the country.

  7. Nakakainis ang nangyayari sa Pilipinas!!!! Ang mga tao they always blame it on the President of the Philippines. Kahit siong presidente ang i-elect natin but for as long as we have the same breed of government officials from all the way to Marcos time to the present time, the country will always be in the poor state. Worst of all pati mga anak anak ng mga government officials are inheriting their’s parent’s position in the government. Imagine whenever I go to munisipyo to get paper works done, I met office workers saying, ” Hoy magpakain ka naman!”

    When I was in high school in the 70’s I see alot of kababaihan naghihingutuhan sa hagdanan, mga lalakeng ang hawak ay manok o umagang umaga nag-iinuman at mga kabataang naglalaro sa calle na walang damit at labas uhog, walang tsinelas and I told myself that maybe someday things will go for the better. Now it is 2007 and I still see alot of people doing the same thing. Majority of the people walang social security, walang medicare, nakatira sa squatter areas, sa ilalim ng tulay, sa tabi ng riles at kahit saan basta may matulugan. Wala ba silang pangarap? Tapos kapag nasagasaan ng tren o jeep e kasalanan ng gobyerno!! Mag-aanak sila ng marami di naman pala kayang buhayin. The government needs to do major improvement.

    Imagine may mga overseas workers sa Hongkong at Saudi Arabia na ang suweldo ay US$200 a month tapos iyong ibang babae at lalake minomestiya ng mga amo nila. Tapos sasabihin ng government “They are our heroes”.

    Mas mabuti pang maging socialist country tayo para libre ang education and hospitalization. Look at the price of electric bills. Mas mahal pa ang kuryente sa Pilipinas kesa sa America. Ang mayayaman lalong yumayaman at ang mahirap lalong naghihirap.

    I wish something better will happen to our country. We deserve the best

  8. You the man!! I have been working abroad as a business executive for 3 years now, in Thailand, and continue to pay humongous taxes to the Philippines on my income here. I hardly use any Philippine services — I don’t use the police department or the fire department or the 5-minute Skyway (lol!). Yet they get a huge positive cash flow from me that can only bouy up the apparent fiscal position in the country.

    Your insight on why the government finds it better to export the 8 million more cerebral, more self-starting, more entrepreneurial, more pro-active segment of our population is an epiphany. Of course. Of course!! That way the government need only to provide the minimum level of service, and the rest of private industry can continue charging the same price points for the most mediocre services and products.

    Funny/sad example (this really happened):

    DHL: Hello sir, we have a package for you, when can we deliver it to your apartment?

    Me: I am in Bangkok now, I live and work here, and I am in my Philippine address only once a month. What do you suggest?

    DHL: Sir, can we deliver it tomorrow?

    Me: Sorry, I won’t be there tomorrow. I am still here in Bangkok, and will be in Bangkok for the next 3 weeks.

    DHL: Sir, what about the day after tomorrow? Can we deliver it then?

    Me: [Aaarrrggghh!] Iha, do you know where Bangkok is?!

    [Long pause.]

    DHL: Near Alabang, sir?

    The service ethic in Manila has dived to abyssmal levels. Only whale poo is lower than the national IQ. (And whale poo sits at the bottom of the ocean!)

    This was DHL Philippines! The premiere logistics and delivery service. And they thought Bangkok was in Metro Manila.

    I have had very similar experiences in restaurants, shops and government offices in Manila. I always wondered why people seem to have gone brain dead. Now I realize the more capable Filipinos have all fled. The remaining work force in Manila no longer exhibit minimal brain waves. They are the mentally undead.

  9. Even when I was in college, I’ve always wondered why GMA boasts of the high GNP when I learned in eco class that this is not always a good thing. And she claims to be an economist! Weird. She confuses people with all those talks of good things happening when all you see is suffering and poverty (except, of course, when you are in rockwell or serendra or greenbelt). How sad.

  10. The government has failed and is still failing to take care of its own people. If the issue on RAPID POPULATION GROWTH is not addressed, I really don’t see how we can make it. The country is a baby factory , once “completely assembled” are exported abroad. TV and other media show pictures of the smiling faces of OFW’s coming home, why don’t they complete the picture and show their tearful and sad faces when they have to leave? How sad indeed!

  11. Thanks for saying it like it is. It gives better perspective of where we really are. For us in the financial sector, we are actually seeing better days now. But it helps put us in perspective that it isn’t necessarily so for the other 90% of the population.

  12. oh my what an interesting post to read at 237am…
    many years ago I always have thought the OFWs I have met here would eventually go home..

    But with the worsening situation back home they are still here

  13. Crumbmaster/Aridelros, please keep your body parts to yourself, I have deleted them at my discretion. However, I would like to point out a few things:

    1. Our economy is not 99% dependent on oil. That is simply completely and utterly ignorant, uninformed and basically a dumb assertion which automatically discounts the beginning and the rest of your comment. If we had no oil here, and people still went fishing by paddling, hunting boar and gathering bananas, there would still be an economy. Plus, since 8+ million folks would be abroad, sent on airlines using oil sourced at foreign airports, then we would still have $24Billion in hard currency a year, which is 2/3 of our total annual exports of stuff made here, but which includes at least 50% imported material. Since we have one of the world’s largest reserves of copper and gold, and even extracted and crafted some of the gold even before the Spaniards arrived, into jewelry that now sits in the National Museum, I really don’t think your 99% oil comment is credible. Oh, and by the way, we do make somewhere near 5-10% of our energy needs locally through the Malampaya gas and oil fields, hydroelectric turbines, geothermal energy and a few measly but beautiful wind mills in Ilocos, so already your numbers are uninformed.

    2. I presume your second comment is just one of bad typing as poverty does not offset growth. It is POPULATION that offsets growth that leads to more poverty. And I do mention population growth up above as part of the problems that face the nation. And I have one kid.

    3. I agree that change must start with individuals. But that our government is a result of the individuals that voted it in and allow it to conduct itself in the manner that it does. If governments were just supposed to respond, rather than take responsibility for plotting longer term development strategy as they did in Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, Thailand and even Vietnam, then why are the latter doing so much better in relative terms??? This isn’t about the staff, it’s about the management. And that is precisely why I ask readers to think about who they vote for as that constitutes part of the future management of this country!

    As for assuming that I or any of the other commenters haven’t done anything, that is again a blind stab in the dark that cannot at all be informed as YOU HAVE NO IDEA whatsoever what I have, have not or will or will not do to contribute my part to making The Philippines a better place to live. I have mentioned some of these items before but I know they exceed by FAR what you appear to expect of the rest of the folks commenting here…that they only sit on their rear ends and do nothing to contribute back…

    Yes, I believe criticism is good. Unless we start thinking critically, acting critically and making critically informed decisions, we have a much more difficult path to any improvements whatsoever. And as for your final comment that GMA “lives,” so do 2 billion other humans on the planet who have nary enough caloric intake every day to even realize that. Worse, so do previous dictators, despots, comelec officials, embezzlers, arms dealers, drug pushers, etc. who may or may not be enjoying a latte in a sidewalk cafe in Switzerland waiting for their bank to open its doors for business that morning. This post wasn’t just a commentary on GMA; far from it, and it IS OBVIOUSLY written knowing that folks have many differing opinions…

  14. Well said MM. So totally true it makes me shed tears of anger and frustration. Lately, it has been so much worse with the current political circus. You watch the news and see classrooms with leaking roofs and children playing hide and seek with the rain and sun INSIDE their classrooms with canvass roofs then on the next spot you see the godawful face of this man with the gall to spend tens of millions on tv ads in the first week of the campaign period then you feel like ripping out the tv and throwing it at his face!!!!! GRRRRRR

    I may be moronic in still believing that there may still be a turn around point for the Philippines, maybe not in my lifetime but I hope in my children’s lifetime. In the meantime, I am trying to raise my kids to be morally upright, conscientious, proactive, compassionate individuals. Maybe if we all start with our families then the fruits of this will be reaped by the next generation.

  15. MM: I actually read that piece from Washington Sycip this morning over breakfast and thought of this post of yours. *SIGH* What to do really … You want the best people to stay in the country and do their share, but you can’t begrudge them for seeking better lives elsewhere.

    A Latin philosopher wrote: “No one loves his country because it is great, but because it is his.”

  16. Look at the survey results made by MM! Majority feel that a benevolent dictator is needed. So true! But at the moment that we are still praying for the emergence of the benevolent dictator, I focus on my circle of influence because the circle of concern is much too big…nakakaloka! I firmly believe that education and good solid work values will alleviate a person from poverty. I help my single parent yaya put her daughter through college. She is taking up accounting. I lead my high school classmates in a book drive and will be donating and hopefully work with the school in encouraging love for reading among grade schoolers in a fishing village in Laguna. It’s not much but at least we started on something. Money or books are not that hard to source but what we need are donors of their time and talent. Also, let’s look at what Gawad kalinga has done for the poor. In fact, their model is being copied by other countries. We have pockets of efforts to help the poor but at the end of the day, it’s the government responsible on the macro level. We all love this country in our own different ways because it’s the only one we have! We need a strong honest leader to unify us all.

  17. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I can imagine some of my former economics professors sharing the same sentiment.

  18. I found it funny but logical that Washington Sycip suggested taxing the countries that keep taking away our “brains” to work for them. Seems like a good idea to me.

    Right now, I am thinking of ways to proactively help the state of our nation, given that I can’t really think of living anywhere else, despite the fact that I’ve seen a lot of people in my line of work simply get up and leave for better pay and work conditions in the neighboring Asian countries.

    You have mentioned a lot of the negatives that can nag us into thinking about living our lives elsewhere, but maybe your post would indeed serve the purpose of provoking that small sliver of idealism in every one of us to think that we might be able to salvage this mess we’re in.

  19. Okay. So maybe a thread on how to fix the system ought to be started in the discussion :).

    Sycip posits the following questions in the article referred to above by MM:

    “… In most countries, a central bank can react quickly to international financial changes. In nations where there is a slow-moving congress, can we not have a body of technocrats respond quickly to economic changes?”

    My question: would a parliamentary form of government be more conducive to having this type of consultatory body that can work with the sitting Prime Minister?

    Sycip then adds:

    “We envy the ability of the Singapore government, with no significant opposition, to be able to adopt economic measures or change its policies so quickly to adjust to development inside or outside of its country.”

    I think I’m much more amenable to the “Economic Freedom first before Political Freedom” maxim these days. I mean, look, RP have experimented with the western-style democracy for so many decades now and it just hasn’t worked in the Philippine context at all. So yeah, an RP Inc. type of government won’t be so bad in my book.

    Am I crazy about the term “benevolent dictator” (shades of Singapore former PM Lee Kwan Yuew)? Heck, no! … sure conjures up images of Marcos’ “constitutional authorianism” brand of governing :). We all know what happened in those agonizing years. Ideally, the body of “technorats” should have the last say in the economic decisions. We don’t want crony capitalism to rear its ugly head once again.

    Okay. ‘Nuff said for now.

  20. Why bother with the Philippines situation, things will just get worst. I don’t think we will see the country finally maintain a path of prosperity in our lifetime. With the runaway population growth that we have imagine what will be life half a century from now when the population doubles.Just a few hours away from the country life is so much different. I always tell my young relatives who are still in the Phil. to study hard and after getting their diplomas to do whatever it takes to get out of the country and go to other prosperous nations wherein they have a chance of being a citizen.

  21. Marketman, i’m ashamed to admit that i’m not proud to be a filipino citizen because of what’s happening
    i’ve long stop watching local channels because i just view them as full of crap/biases. although I believe that there is still hope, everyone and i mean every single filipino should straighten out and think of the bigger picture.

  22. amen!

    it bothers me also that:

    1. The youth should be a large percentage of the votes this coming election but more than half of them has already lost faith in the voting system even without experiencing voting.

    2. Most of the would be voters that i know did not even bother to register for the upcoming elections.

    3. Those who did in fact register is not planning to vote.

    4. I work in a company that employs mostly young people and they are all, including myself, convinced that this election is nothing but a circus.

  23. unfortunately, after 8,ooo,ooo educated and skilled filipinos left, it seems that those that remained, well… just hung around and watched local tv aaaaall daaaaaaay loooong. how do i presume this??? simple. we have voted for movie stars and tv personalities to government positions as high as the presidency!!! not to mention vp, senators, congressmen, mayors, etc. etc. etc.!!! if we could vote for a god, he would still be from local cinema! i hate to admit this but the filipino electorate is dumb.

    imagine if fpj the-moviestar wasn’t cheated by gloria the-american-educated, bill-clinton-classmate economist, we would have for president –>fpj and our vp –> noli de castro! thats a movie-tv combination punch that would surely KO the country!!! that is after a failed erap the-action-hero presidency!!! and you’d think we’ve had enough already. #1 ranked senators in the past??? tito sotto and loren legarda! lito lapid and ramon revilla and bong revilla and robert jaworski and jinggoy estrada??? all senators!!!!!

    guess what guys? as a country, WE VOTED FOR THEM. now, how can we really truly complain if we put them there in the first place? to make our laws and run our country? are we really that dumb?….

  24. for the youth. and probably the jaded…ano pa ang hinahanap niyong Pilipinas. ang Pilipinas ay ikaw. its so easy to point fingers but there really is still hope. what have you done lately for your country?

  25. the issues confronting the country are manifold, but what is certain is simple: political & economic mismanagement. what started in the marcos administration continued on to aquino. growth in the ramos years was wiped out when estrada became president and the economic house was put in order by the arroyo leadership. if you want to go further than that, then there is the history of spanish & american subjugation that may or may not have resulted in the filipino today.

    clearly the ofw deploy for economic reasons. but i also strongly feel that filipinos wouldn’t have succeeded as ofw without their determination & productivity. not to mention that i find that the average filipino to have a streak of adventurism. what else to define its ability to leave for and adapt in unknown lands and cultures!!

    you forget that even among the wealthy around the world and the elite among the filipinos migrate for education and professional challenges. recall the rockefellers in the uk, the rothschilds all over europe. aren’t multinational companies crisscrossing the globe for business opportunities?

    there will forever be datas and analyses that will rank the philippines this & that. however, there are indicators of how the country is succeeding. the sovereign credit rating that has improved, the balance of payments, job generation, corporate profitabiity, flourishing real estate market, increasing foreign & domestic investements, tourism. these are all tangible signs of economic recovery.

    it doesn’t help that the economy as yet cannot absorb the new workers that are added to the market each year. but i believe we need to suuport the arroyo administration as it has proven that it has the skills, leadership & focus to resolve the ills of the country.

    as for benevolent dictatorship, one can only sigh at the prospects of singapore..but thats another story!

  26. MM, I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to how I feel about the country. I can’t even figure out my own feelings about whether or not to stay.

    One thing I firmly believe in, though, is that one of the first steps is to enforce the law by punishing criminals. And I don’t just mean the small-time crooks who would-be tyrants and dictators — benevolent or not — want to crack down on. Any politician who wants to run on a law & order platform had better be able to promise that the big fish go down too. Billionaire tycoon tax evaders? Make them pay. Politicians who’ve made their opposition disappear? Life sentences. Big-haired, big-jewelled, big-mouthed former first lady who claims she’s “poor?” Remind her what that word really means. Unless those who’ve stolen millions are put away, how can you stop those who pocket a few pesos? How can you teach the Filipino youth to respect the law, when those in power have only contempt for it?

  27. I am an Engineer based here in Taiwan. I’ve been working here for 3 years, living with my husband and son. I noticed that the we pay lower utility bills here compared to the Philippines. Electricity, gas for cooking, water, even gas for driving. Basic needs. I did a research on the internet and found out that the Philippines has one of the highest electricity rates, in the world, if I am not mistaken. Why did this happen??? Besides, come think of it. The minimum wage is Manila (for office clerks, staff, etc.) is only ~ 7,000 php, while here in Taipei, the minimum wage (for house-help, working students) is 15,000 NT$ (roughly 22,000 pesos). Do the Math…

  28. I have been reading your blog for some time, but I had never, nor had I ever had to urge to comment until now.

    Brilliant, all I can say is brilliant. Thanks for putting to words, though rather very lengthy words, what most of us feel but cannot express as eloquently as you do.

    I shall be forwarding this url to all of my friends in the days to come.

  29. Sad, very sad! All our present and past administrations are comedy of errors! Come to think of it, when an issue arose like the pork barrel funds our Honorable Senate Blue Ribbon Committee they went out of their way – exchanging rhetoric with full media coverage. They went out their ways to find the key witnesses leaving no stones unturned in their fact finding gatherings. Once they got all the facts – the whole issue vaporized. Juan dela Cruz was left wondering what course of steps they took! Here’s another anal that our great politicians are doing – you read in the paper so and so left for Houston, Texas to seek further medical treatment – with all the ill-gotten wealth they loot from our national treasury – when they get sick they do not trust our hospitals or health care practitioners – they seek medical interventions in the United States. We have to eradicate the grass root of our politics – corruption. Corruption is the underlying evil in our politics and start all over again. We got rid of the Marcoses but our politicians carry on the same roots. While in office, they have to enrich themselves – recoup the money spent campaigning massive vote buying. It is the general instinct of any parents to provide the best education for their children, our parents could get their hands. It is a common human gesture to see their kids well off and has a steady job with a roof on their heads and so likewise the children with the good education, skills and knowledge they have and fully armed to hit the very competitive workforce and be part of the wage earners and bring home the dough, the Country cannot offer that to them, they seek employment where the grass is greener and their opportunities are unlimited and their advancement is far as the eyes can see. We are a breed where we are genetically intelligent, conscientious and hardworking individuals. We are by nature very likable people and can adjust to any new environment. We have utilized our acquired skills and knowledge where we are compensated for what we contribute to the emerging companies not to mention loyalty to our employers! We cannot live by rice alone. We need to have fish, meat and wine in our dinner table.

  30. We are one of those who had spent our working years here in the US and plan on coming home to retire. The desire to help the motherland is strong but tempered by the knowledge that only a few benefits. Examples are when we contribute to any disaster that befalls the PI all the while wondering whose pockets our donation is going to line but we still do hoping that a little bit would eventually find it’s way to the victims. Mostly we like to support the private charities where we know the person handling it is doing so out of sincere desire to help the poor mostly in the form of medical missions and the likes. I would say I have utmost confidence in you MM and would support any charitable act you deem worthy.

  31. interesting series of comments. was disappointed to discover that people would prefer to have a benevolent dictatorship. nothing good comes easily and the various economic successes we see around the world didn’t come overnight. we can’t continue to believe that only one person (the dictator) can help us. we have to believe that we can help ourselves. i agree with MM that criticism is necessary but i don’t believe in negative comments like “the philippines is going nowhere.” comments like these can be self-fulfilling prophesies if people actually believe them.

    it’s true we had a strong economy after world war 2. but it’s also true during that period the economy was helped by the US. so much so that we never had to become competitive (vis a vis the other economies). and it’s a mindset that goes on today. when export quotas are cut (something that people are aware of years in advance), instead of trying to become more efficient and reduce costs, manufacturers plead with various governments to reinstitute quotas. it’s been more than 50 years since ww2! it’s time to move on and WORK together to move forward (instead of begging for concessions).

    i’ve worked overseas and i returned. i’ve had other opportunities to leave but i haven’t taken them. i’m no saint for doing this. but i do stay because in spite of everything this is the only country i consider home. i fit in. i look like other pinoys. i speak the language. i have ancestors who died to defend it. plus even with the bad infrastructure, the pollution, the moronic city planners and the horrible politics — it still is a beautiful country…especially for someone like me who loves water. do you know how amazing it is to swim with a whale shark for the first time? experiences like this are what keep me here.

    i feel sad when i hear about people leaving but i don’t begrudge them. they have to take care of themselves and their children in the best way they know how. countries all over the world have had waves of migration (for example: europe to the us a century ago). at the end of the day, we are a baby country and much as we all want quick fixes, we will have to crawl before we can walk.

  32. Aridelros, I have deleted your last three comments at my discretion. If the post above makes you uncomfortable or if you are so offended by what you term the rantings of “rich kids” then you are most welcome to leave your comments elsewhere on the blogosphere…

  33. La, do you know what is worse than our present state? Filipinos who think like you do. Please spare your young relatives your cynicism and utter lack of patriotism. My heart bleeds every time i read or hear comments like yours. The Philippines is OUR problem and nobody will fix it except US. Have you read Alexander Lacson’s book “12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do to Help Our Country”? I strongly suggest you do and ponder on it. There are over 80 million of us Filipinos and if we all look up to government and business leaders for redemption, our country will surely not move forward. We should all do our share. I think its about time you ask yourself, what have you done?

    You are doing your country disservice my encouraging your young relatives “to do whatever it takes to get out of the country and go to other prosperous nations wherein they have a chance of being a citizen”. Surely, there is nothing wrong with working abroad. What is gravely wrong is when you think there is nothing left in the Philippines for your relatives that the prospect of being third class citizens in a foreign land is to die for.

  34. I fully agree with Mojito Drinker. I used to ask people how they could consider another dictator after what Marcos did, until I realized Filipinos’ short memories mean they now actually look at the Marcos years with nostalgia! I was HORRIFIED!!! We have a tendency to believe everything would be better if we had the right person on top — as if the President, one person, could turn around decades’ worth of problems and change millions of people’s thoughts and actions. As the saying goes, we have to be the change we want to see. So each time we flout traffic laws then pay off the cop, or litter, or just put down the country by saying “only in the Philippines…” then we are part of the problem we complain about.

  35. The poll results actually surprise me a bit as well. So many more folks choose the option of a “benevolent dictator” say along the lines of a Lee Kwan Yu over a “fully democratically elected president in a clean election”… not sure what to make of this but it is interesting nonetheless. Obviously, in the end, strong leadership with the right intentions and strong support from every single citizen is the ideal situation… but I am not sure where that example in this part of the world is to be patterned after… Overall, I think this was a good post to put out there and have folks think about. It certainly is a heavily read post so far…

  36. i understand everyone’s shock at the overwhelming lead of ‘benevolent dictator’ over the other choices above (including logical choice ‘fully democratically elected president in a totally clean election’). after all, ‘dictatorship’ is mentioned in the same breath as one would whisper communism, fascism, military junta. but one must remember, this is the philippines. where a fully democratically elected president in a totally clean election may be a crooked drunk actor.

    in the philippines, 1 benevolent dictator to limit corruption to 1% of the economy is better than 10 political parties, without a single political ideology whatsoever, each nominating 1 action star president, 1 news anchor vp, 2 to 3 celebrity senators and at least 1 senatorial candidate charged or convicted of a crime, preferably against national security than petty theft, preferably already in jail. all candidates of course, during the campaign, will promise to eradicate 100% of corruption, followed by a song and dance number by the tittilating ‘baywalk beauties’. give me a break….

    and when we say we learned our lessons from the time of marcos??? what??? after macoy exited, we voted imelda for president. she didn’t win (over 2,ooo,ooo votes) but she ended up 5th among 7 candidates. she eventually became congresswoman. macoy’s son is now a governor, and his daughter, congresswoman. his grandsons are big celebrities, with the model ‘dude where’s my car? i’m too sexy for y’all’ grandson is walking the world like it’s his money. did we really learn? i know that in this case, the sins of the father are not the sins of the son, but c’mon guys….

  37. Ah, I like this article in Philippine Daily Inquirer’s web edition, here. If we’ll look at the present situation, we’ll all be dismayed. But I will continue hoping for this country and I wish we’ll all do our part in proper instilling values to children in the smallest unit of institution in a society..within the family.

  38. Over-population and corruption are the 2 main reasons of our economic problem. I’m really praying hard for our country for the sake of our children’s future.

  39. as usual, i’m late to the discussion. but don’t have much to add. to be honest, it all saddens me, but i’m one of those who don’t see a lot to hope for and haven’t for a while. i think the basic problem is education- and spirituality-related, but this is probably not the place to expound on these things, so i’ll just slink away and thank you for your post — major food for thought.

  40. This is obviously a subject of much contention. I too am saddened by many things that are happening in our beloved country and do agree that we all must in our own different ways try to help change things for the better. We can’t just rely on our corrupt leaders! My heart sinks every time I read of another “trapo” or crony making a comeback (no repercussions whatsoever for their past or ongoing transgressions!). Those of us who are far away can help not just by remitting money, but also by donating to organizations that further the education of our disadvantaged youth, etc. If change for the better won’t happen in our lifetimes, at least let us strive that the future generations will be better off.

  41. CONDOMS!!! lots and lots of condoms. i think we need alot of that to maybe curb the booming population growth.
    also, all the yummy food bloggers should host like a giant EB with all the yummy food they can make – laced with liquid baygon or dora rat killer…. we then invite all the trapos and superstar/action-stars who are running – ask them to partake of this meal and wait for the poison to kick in……(pwede rin muriatic acid…)
    humour aside – our current situation is uber-frustrating. i look at my kids and worry to death half the time if I will be able to continue giving them what they need or what will happen if the country they will be inheriting guts them. sigh. but what to do? that is the question – with millions of answers i know – but then 3/4ths of the time, we are all too busy with life (feeding the family, making sundo, working, stuck in traffic, juggling the finances to pay for MERALCO!!!!!!! grrrrr) that we cant seem to really “do” anything. i guess I just have to move my lazy ass and really start doing something concrete.

  42. Hi MM, i also want to share that the street lights in baywalk costs around $150,000+++..

  43. reading all the posts here could surely make one feel utterly hopeless. moreso, if you believe salavation lies in our government and the politicians. but, i believe in myself, just as i believe in the power of all those who posted their rants here, that together we can do a lot of good for our beloved Philippines. Doing our bit in our own part of the world, incremental changes are being made and incremental good is being done. Take John B. Ong, for example, who practically had the world at his feet when he graduated with distinction from Xavier. Yet, John chose to live and work with the Mangyans in Mindoro helping the IPs gain better access to resources and their ancestral domain. Yes, a good majority of the ‘middle forces’ may have left this country but i don’t think the masses left behind are as dumb as we think we they are. Recent experience has shown that we did vote entertainers and actors to various political posts but i don’t know if you’ve noticed that except for tito sotto, other actors such as cesar montano and richard gomez are lagging behind in the surveys. I’d like to think that slowly, we’re learning our lessons. I’m sure all of our readers have their own stories to share and I firmly believe there is a lot of good happening all around us only if we let our hearts and eyes see them. Indeed, it is so easy to give in and be discouraged with all that is happening in our country. But I do believe that the spirit that moved John Ong to work unselfishly with the Mangyans resides in all of us and together, I know we can make a difference.

  44. I am not surprised by the hopelessness in many of the posts. After all, who wouldn’t be exasperated with a country whose minted denizens lack any sense of noblesse oblige. There’s that Iberian family that likes to daff about in their eponymous charity foundation that is more notable for its self-congratulation and self-congratulatory party excess (particularly by the latched on married-intos) than it is for sincere work. It’s akin to purchasing indulgences centuries back.

    Royalty and nobility have merely been replaced by fiduciary capacity. But the great proletariat wad still gets left out save for the intermittent pantomine of elections.

    And as mentioned up there, permitting and acknowledging Borgy’s testicles-up-the-throat-accented self-righteous lamentations on radio, tv, and text (ironically, the cad seems utterly ignorant of his grandfather having shit-canned free speech…and shackled freedom) is proof that the country likes having its nostrils rubbed in its own faeces. He is an absolute cunt.

  45. And as for the ecuse that the sins of the father aren’t the sons…

    Borgy yapping about in self-righteous glory like his scatolgia didn’t stink is akin to Pol Pot’s grandson lecturing us to treat others humanely.

    Better really to remain quiet and modest, particularly when one’s lifestyle and celebrity was founded on something and someone so notorious, corrupt, responsible for much suffering, and had an utter disregard for human life.

    Have a bit of class, lad…and a tad more modesty.

  46. MM, thanks for putting into words what my brain is already too weary to think about. i am appalled…no, alarmed, my present apathy. i hope this is temporary..the heart does get tired.

    I wish everyone would just do their tiny bit for ol’ Pinas. Mr. Alexander Lacson’s booklet, “12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country” suggests good and doable starters so we don’t drown in apathy and despair.

  47. This post is particularly a real “food for thought” to us. The economic situation in the country is the result of our politicians never ending greed for power and money, mismanagement of our resources and incompetent leaders. Things will never be the same, let’s admit it. But changes could still happen. Let’s not just let more clowns sit in the Congress to represent the people.
    And the choices for your poll are depressing! But I guess that’s the reality of the present situation. In that case, I’ll take the lesser of the evil.

  48. There’s been quite a number of references made about the “12 Little Things …” in the post so I thought I’d do a cursory search on it on the web and post it here for our benefit.

    Essentially, Lacson’s “12 Little Things” are as follow:

    1. Follow traffic laws. Follow the law.

    2. Whenever you buy or pay for anything, always ask for an official receipt.

    3. Don’t buy smuggled goods. Buy local. Buy Filipino.

    4. When you talk to others, especially foreigners, speak positively about us and our country.

    5. Respect your traffic officer, policeman and soldier.

    6. Do not litter, dispose of your garbage properly. Segregate. Recycle. Conserve.

    7. Support your church.

    8. During elections, do your solemn duty.

    9. Pay your employees well.

    10. Pay your taxes.

    11. Adopt a scholar or a poor child.

    12. Be a good parent. Teach your kids to follow the law and love our country.


    The list certainly would go a long way in propagating the “Think Globally, Act Locally” kind of mantra with the hope that if we all do our job individually then a ‘greater’ good would benefit us all in the end. Parang ‘karma’ in some sort of way — i.e., what goes around, comes around.

    However, the more I go over the list on the “12 Little …”, the more I convince myself that the ‘burden’ is placed much too much on the regular folks back home. And soooo, I thought, “Hmm, maybe I can come up with a ’12 Little Things’ list for them other folks as well, hehe.”

    So here goes …

    12 Little Things for Politicians and Men in uniforms

    1. Stop thinking you’re above the law.

    2. Don’t use your position to get bribes.

    3. Don’t protect smugglers (that goes for both of you).

    4. When you talk to others, especially to the citizens,
    treat them with respect. Just because you wear a uniform
    or in a position of power, it doesn’t mean that
    you can say and do anything you please.

    5. Respect the people’s rights. They’re the ones who pay your salary.

    6. Politicians: enact and ENFORCE laws that will protect the
    country’s environment and natural resources. Don’t let
    foreign interests rape and pollute the country (then again,
    some local politicians are guilty of this as well).

    7. Respect the separation of Church and State. And for the
    Church, don’t meddle too much in the political affairs
    of the country. Last time I checked, there are only 3 branches of government. It’s perfectly okay for the Church to meddle in the country’s affairs but only if a ‘devil’ sits in Malacanang :).

    8. Men in uniforms: do not intimidate the voters during elections.
    Politicians: do not use the men-in-uniforms as your private

    9. Spend the people’s money wisely (and I’m not talking about
    the bribes here). Build infrastructures that will help
    stimulate the economy. Economic development doesn’t have
    to be Manila-centric all the time. De-centralize it.

    10. Pay your taxes and don’t hide your assets and wealth.

    11. Politicians: allocate more funds for the education of the
    young. They are the country’s future. Help them have a
    dream to become somebody in their OWN COUNTRY — not just
    someone who’s dream is to toil in some god-forsaken foreign land.

    12. Politicians: Be a good role model and I’m not talking about making your kids/wives think that political power is necessarily an inherited right that your family is forever entitled to.

    Honestly, I could go on and on but this post is waay too long already as it is :).

  49. tulip, thanks for that link up above. it’s comforting to know that there is at least 1 group, Institute for Solidarity in Asia headed by Mr. Estanislao, presumably (& fittingly) non-profit, that is working on zeroing in and addressing what for me is the root cause –> the ‘poor’ quality of filipino voter. even though they map out the program to span 23 long years, this is a gargantuan first step that they are taking in behalf of all of us.

    this initiative should serve as a whopping bitch-slap to groups known as ‘political parties’, who were in the first place, supposed to have detected and addressed this flaw. i’m sure they have detected this before but rather than correcting it, the bastards have instead ‘cashed in’ by fielding in a juggling act when they noticed the dopey filipino loves a circus. the opposition, regardless of how credible or perfect their ideologies may be, have chosen, at the end of the day, on back-to-back presidential elections, that the single best person in the country to lead us are erap and fpj.

    lou, the voting based on lesser evil, something i also confess to practicing given the choices, always lead to evil still triumphing.

    ped ant, even when borgy walks, he walks with a certin discomforting swagger, as if its all his money.

  50. I am not a genius. I don’t think I can list all the items you listed down MM and expound on each logically and effectively. I do share the frustration and exasperation, though, but not the hopelessness that others seem to harbour. Dee said it for me. These days are a little bit better. But yes, there is yet a long way to go. Still, the Philippines, while officially represented by the nation’s president and other officials, is not necessarily these officials. The Philippines is us. What ails our country is not just economics and lousy governance. If we ourselves have reached that point where we feel only shame about ourselves and forget what is good in us and all, then it is hopeless. (Though I can imagine the whole situation being like the chicken and egg issue.) If all we can teach the youth is to study hard and leave the country as fast as they can, then, indeed, all is lost. Like some, I feel sad about those who need to go out just to earn a decent living or maybe, even leave the Philippines altogether. Perhaps, this is the only way they thought they can help their families. Indeed, they are heroes in the sense that they put up with all kinds of hardships and make countless sacrifices for their loved ones; and then somehow, they help boost the economy. I wish they wouldn’t, didn’t, have to go but no one can blame them.

    But it is quite another if all that one sees are the negatives and then encourages many to pack their bags and go. That is tragic. When practically everybody’s gone, then there will be no Philippines to speak of. Not the kind of Philippines that each one of us deserves.

    I salute those who despite their frustration and anger still do what they can to help others, our country. In my small way, too, I try. Whenever I have the opportunity, you can bet I seize every one of them. Back in Mindanao where I used to work, I would tell the communities that as we work together and accomplish our targets one by one, every such success is the success of the whole barangay, every success of the barangay is the success of the municipality, the success of the municipality is the success of the province, the province’s is the region’s and the region’s is the country’s. Why? Because we are all Filipinos, regardless of faith and/or ethnicity (e.g. Samal, Tausug, Ybanag, Waray). We are all connected. Too, the Philippines is not just Manila or Luzon. And despite all the discouraging news about the nation, about the conflicts in Mindanao and some of their/our brother and sister Muslims, they actually contribute to the wealth and beautiful heritage of this nation. Soon as they realised that, they were emboldened to actually, really do something more for their own development. Also, as we were discussing their vision, I also told them, as an example, that mine was to see my son one day, romping along their shores, freely enjoying every second of the experience with their children–without any apprehension on my part. I did not realise that it made such an impact on them. To this day, almost three years since I left the project, they consult me or just share their trials and tribulations with me. And they have taken to heart what I taught them. To strive to be able to stand on their own feet, to be self-sustaining, self-sufficient, with or without external assistance (shades of mojito_drinker?); and to teach their children the values we have learned as I continue to do so with my own son. Admittedly, as others have expressed, we still need one “leader” who can, who will lead, truly, so that efforts that we have bravely exerted will not be lost or remain too small to have a national impact in the more immediate term. I wish, I pray…. I suppose, voting the better people (you’re right MM, in that there doesn’t seem to be anyone who invites confidence) is the next best way to start.

    By the way addy, it’s alright. Realising it (not being proud to be a Filipino), admitting to the fact and feeling ashamed of it is a good start. Now, please work on it. Have the heart and the resolve to see what’s good around you. You feel ashamed because you feel you are part of it. Now, only if you would feel enough, enough to work with others or do as others do in doing the best they can, within their sphere of influence to try and turn things around. I tell you it’s fulfilling and you will feel renewed as you find like-minded individuals (as in the proactive and optimistic and hopeful and proud Filipino types).

    I don’t know if it means anything to any of you, but for the longest time, my husband and I resisted the idea of going abroad. Then, about 2 years ago, I relented somewhat, more out of desperation really. We worked on our papers and completed all the requirements. We didn’t have enough money to shoulder the required expenses though but then again, if there’s a will, there’s a way, right? But somehow, we are still here, struggling, laughing and living in good old Pilipinas. We didn’t submit anything. We didn’t apply. We teach our only son to be a proud Filipino and I tell you he is. But he also is aware of our ills even if he does not understand all of it. He knows that the best way he can do to help now is to be a good son, a diligent student, a conscientious member of the community (not littering, being respectful of neighbours, being a good influence on his fellow children, etc.). In time, he would come to understand more and be able to discern what role he could most effectively take on to be a good kababayan and citizen. Matagal pa yata yun but hey, I’m an optimist.

  51. Having Estanislao’s ilk attend to the primary problem plaguing this country is akin to having your hairdresser perform neuro-surgery on you. The greatest socio-ecological disaster this country (if not the world) faces is not the indolent thirst for oil, but its soaring overpopulation. Unfortunately, Estanislao’s self-righteous religious phylum will neither acknowledge, let alone permit the most systematic and expeditious remedy there is — artificial birth control. They’d rather put their money on self-control.

    A separation of Church and State is essential if anything in this country is to properly work. It seems a daunting task what when vote-begging season is now here, and we see politicians willing to proffer the comforts of their mother’s crotches to any religious mob who will deliver them votes (regardless of how horrifically-coiffed the religious leader is…or how ridiculous his suit is tailoured). That said, it must be noted that Kemal Mustafa successfully managed to extract the ecclesiastical from State…and this he did in a more ultra-conservative climate decades ago and with a more rabidly religious population. So there is historical precedent for it.

    Removed of the rather corny histrionics of flag-waving and melodramatic teary-sentiment of leaving the land of one’s birth, I do not see anything wrong in Filipinos going wherever from which to earn more money. At its very core, it is merely a choice for finer fiscal pastures…a fatter paycheck. It comes back to the country anyway. Presently, up to 40% of residential purchases is attributed to Filipinos overseas. This is to say that they are putting their money in hard assets. The money stays. And positively affects all aspects of the economy.

  52. A few years ago, I met a taxi driver who was once a Baranggay Captain in Sampaloc during the Marcos era. One of his major project then was birth control. They gave away free condoms, offered free ligation and vasectomy. Included with the ligation is picking up the patient and transporting them to the hospital. It was completely free.

    The adults took the condoms and gave it to children to use a water balloons.

    The adults consented to the procedure but on the scheduled date of pick-up could not be found anywhere.

    I asked him what was the reason for the resistance. He said the people resisted bec they believed it would reduce the pleasure during sex. They did not mention the Catholic teaching. In the end, it was about carnal pleasure.

    Intrestingly, this experience jaded the old man and convinced his to take the opportunity to leave the Phil. When I met him, he was a taxi driver in the US.

    Sex without contraception = multiple children = increasing responsibility. Seems to be pretty straightforward soI wonder why most poor people don’t seem to make the connection.

    While the old man’s sad tale is from way back 70s, the current population growth rate shows the country is still very much prolific and I would think the old man’s finding is still very much true today.

    Reasoning as above indicate these people are unwilling to delay gratification and are unwilling to exercise discipline.

    Discipline & sacrifice are among the very important and fundamental traits for success in any endeavour. Our country will not progress until the majority of the population practices this.

    Our politicians have contributed much to our current sorry state but productivity is not produced by politicians. This statistic is produced by the populace. And each Filipino will have to accept their responsibility and contribution to this.

  53. I am reading Noli Me Tangere for the first time. I am not counting the time I read it in high school when it was required reading because I don’t remember any part of it and did not appreciate it at that time. Now that I am really reading it, I am saddened by the thought that things have not changed. In fact I think its worse because now we see Filipinos taking advantage of Filipinos. Whereas in the past the Spaniards suppressed the progress of the Filipinos, these days our own gov’t officials (elected or otherwise) hinder the growth of our country when they take what belongs to the people to line their pockets. The money that could have improved the school curriculum, paved roads, provided health care, etc are secreted in foreign accounts. Let us pray for a fresh new crop of dedicated, sincere and honest people in the government who can turn the tide!

  54. Hi,

    The discussion caught my attention and it makes me happy that there are people out there who are deeply angry about our country’s current situation.

    In truth the only way we can change things is if we, the educated middle class, start participating in elections and making a stand. We allow the actors and actresses to run for office, we allow the drug lords to be elected and we allow the family of former dictators back into our country.

    Unless some of us find our way in government to change things, our country will never recover from this disease of corruption.

  55. I have posted my insights in one of the forums that I’m with, I am not an expert on this but sometimes great ideas comes from simple suggestions even ones with loopholes, so here it is again… These are ideas and some sort of suggestions…

    1. As with a lot of the people here, I believe that we have find ways to control the continuous population growth. Religion and Human Rights is one big opposition to this. I would guess that human rights activist would say that even the poorest should have the right to have as many babies as they want. But they would not think about the children’s right to eat well, live well, education…etc. Then they will blame the government for not taking care of the poor. Bad… They need to be learn simple cause and effects.

    2. We can only hope to slow down the increase of population, but what will we do to the billions who are already living? Livelihood programs, things like that? Just find something useful for them to do, if they lack skills, give them at least basic education, enough for them to be factory workers or whatever.

    Problem is, most people wants to take shortcuts. Even if they are not skilled, they would not want to take mundane jobs because they will be paid less, they would rather be drug pushers, holduppers, swindlers, because it takes less effort but gives more proffit.

    3. We have a beautiful country, most of us know that already. Improving tourism will bring more tourists of course, meaning more money, more jobs for the provinces, so less people will look for jobs here in the metro and will end up being squatters.

    4. For the politicians. Is it possible to let the constituents know of the proposed projects, inluding the budget and procurement of materials BEFORE they are actually implemented? I’m guessing it is possible, but this would lessen the income/kickback of some people so it is not implemented.

  56. very well said….

    i bet you must be interested in much debated open skies policy at Clark, i have a copy of Avellino Zapanta rants about it in my blog. You might want to read it.

    But for pilots, the CEB GOOKongwei and Uncle Tan’s PAL really pay peanuts. That’s why we choose to fly for others especially for the rich Arabs where the pay is so much more handsome than Rico Yan, with per diem per month alone worth more than what PAL and CEB offered (consider last bargain).


  57. Just a year ago, I was hard on my belief that our country still has hope.. well, let’s just say I’ve just my mind.. I am right now contemplating of following my relatives to North America..

    Life in Philippines, as an ordinary middle-class citizen, actually sucks.. I am just too tired of leaving my house two hours before work everyday just so I could get to office on time, I mean my goodness, I just live in Metro Manila, and to be honest, I don’t need 2 hours just to get to work on time, but I had to, because I had to bare not only with the freaking traffic, but with also the buses (you know they have to stop at every corner and practically line up with the other freaking buses even if there really are not much passengers that are interested to get inside these hell-like vehicles), if I do take the MRT, I just might switch my face with another person, that train is practically going to explode, not of bomb but of too much passengers, that no matter how much I try to contain my small trash inside my bag and not to throw it anywhere, some 10 hoodlum will eventually throw theirs without care, I am also very very tired that whenever I turn the TV on for news, I just get dismayed, not only of the news, but also of the commercials and other stupid shows( can you believe that commercial, claiming that we are not number 1 in corruption, I think it was for a particular newspaper, then I guess we’re number 2 in corruption, and we should be glad with that?!?), I can’t believe I still watch TV.. That no matter how much hard work I do, just I could finish more work and move into the next work (to be productive, you know..) but then I’d be deemed weird by other officemates (to say the least), if not be pulled down because of other’s lack of work ethics (or efficiency?), talk about crab mentality..

    At the end of the day it is not just about the monetary (yet it is very important and thus it affects all of us), but it is about the inefficiency and incompetency that I deal with everyday, imagine walking in an unwalkable, crooked sidewalk.. those little things that I’m too tired to deal with already, and why do I have to? I could opt to go somewhere else and not be like this..

  58. I’ve just read Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”. Maybe that’s what we need, a socio-economic event or series of events, which will lead to everyone wishing and actually doing small things that will eventually lead this country to change. I, too have worked outside the country for 3 years, and to be honest, I have so much hope when I left, but when I came back here, I forget what was it that I was looking forward to. For one thing, I find it inconvenient to roam around Manila, and the jeepneys that I used to love, now I began to hate. I realized they were filthy and dangerous. If we only had more trains, and better infrastructure to interconnect major city destinations, or if we can have a bike-friendly metropolitan, even Ortigas and Makati with bigger and kid-friendly park. If we can just employ a two-way line on escalators, left lane for people in a hurry (its a small thing but it encourages passive disciplined social interaction). If we only have proper medical care and health services for everybody, rich or poor.. Now the global crisis made the situation even worse. How can you not be tempted to work abroad when the average wage of a professional in Manila is just half of what you will be earning outside the country? Many people are unemployed right now, not because they’re lazy, but there aren’t just enough job for everybody. I hope people with so much influence would be responsible in their actions because they are big influence to the mainstream people. We need a plague of discipline and goodwill. We need everyday miracle. I try to hold on to what was left of hope that I have for this country, but I still lodged a skilled migration visa anyway. I figure, it will be a looong time..



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