Mama Mary moved the Muslims

Or did she move Comelec Chairman Abalos? Maybe both? Anyway over the weekend, on TV, TU candidate Miguel Zubiri was giving credit to the Virgin of Manaoag for the Comelec’s decision not to proclaim a failure of elections in Maguindanao.

anyway, so there will be special polls come June 20 in some ARMM places and a cluster of precincts in Batangas; the same article has this quotable quote courtesy of Zubiri:

“Through its decision, the Comelec has shown that the will of the people supersedes any legal technicalities, and therefore must be placed in foremost consideration,” Zubiri said.

Amen? Amen! But the Manila Times editorial says the Comelec’s in a pickle:

Pimentel’s lawyer had asked the Comelec to exclude the votes from Maguindanao and declare her client the outright winner. That petition was rejected.

On the other hand, almost all of the local winners, from governor down to town councilor, have been proclaimed (which is not really surprising because practically all of them ran unopposed). That, according to the Comelec chairman, is undeniable proof that the electoral process did run its course in Maguindanao. “You can’t declare a failure of election for one set of officials and then an election for another. If you declare a failure of election, it should be for all,” was how Abalos put it.

If elections failed in that province, special polls would have to be called. Abalos mentioned June 20 as the most likely date for them. That would be too close to the June 30 deadline.

We may be coming to the final chapter of the Maguindanao saga, barring new developments this week, when Abalos and other top election officials travel to Maguindanao. Their mission: find other documents that could be used as basis to reconstitute or reconvene the provincial board of canvassers that would tabulate the votes for senators.

(Not very different from what John Nery blogged in Inquirer Current some time back). To complicate matters further, now a PPCRV provincial official says there were elections, after all. Most interesting are Rep. Simeon Datumanong’s list of possibilities for the Comelec, and a local official’s belief that Zubiri will lose anyway:

Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong said on Friday the Comelec could not just set aside the tabulation of votes cast in Maguindanao because its commissioners could face an impeachable offense for violation of voters’ rights.

Datumanong said the Comelec can pick among three options to address the controversies surrounding the Maguindanao elections: 1) to go to the Supreme Court on the issue of special elections; and 2) to go back to precinct-by-precinct appreciation of municipal tallies, which, he said, could take a year-long process; and 3) for the Comelec en banc sitting as the National Board of Canvassers to constitute itself into a task force under its own directive to retrieve elections documents from the 22 towns.

Meanwhile, a local official said votes garnered by Bukidnon Rep. Juan Miguel Zubiri in the province would not be enough to offset Aquilino Pimentel III’s lead over him in the national tally, if the Maguindanao CoCs were to be retabulated.

Provincial canvassing showed that Zubiri got 86,698 votes but Pimentel III garnered 29,485 in the province.

“So what’s the big fuss about their votes?” Shuaib Maulana, a member of the three-man Provincial Board of Canvassers said.

But that’s not what Zubiri says.

In other news, Jose de Venecia backs off from Charter Change; same sentiments echoed by his loyal lieutenants.

From Newsbreak, an analysis of the failure of the administration’s machinery in the last elections:

However, the rivalry between the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas) and the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) cannot be the sole reason for TU’s poor showing in many of these provinces, as implied by TU candidate Miguel Zubiri in a recent news report. The TU slate was simply tough to sell, as the nationwide vote distribution shows….

…But the ruling coalition itself was divided – not just between Lakas and Kampi but within Kampi itself. Rep. Luis Villafuerte, Kampi president, admitted to Newsbreak that Ronaldo Puno, Kampi chair, made his “own nominations” that did not pass through official arbitration channels… He counted about 10 areas where Puno fielded his “own” candidates without consulting the arbitration panel.

As in past elections, when ruling parties opted to have free zones, the administration’s national candidates ended up losing. “There will always be jealousy [on both sides], and they will always end up minding their personal campaigns and not the national candidates,” a former ranking Lakas official, who experienced arbitrating local members’ competition for official party nomination, told Newsbreak.

In 27 provinces where Lakas and Kampi fielded gubernatorial candidates against each other (see list below), TU dominated – but not swept – the senatorial polls in only 8…

…Lakas and Kampi candidates also slugged it out in at least 57 congressional districts and numerous cities and towns. However, the results of the senatorial elections there are not readily available from the Commission on Elections….

The former Lakas official quoted earlier acknowledged that the contests between Lakas and Kampi candidates got so intense that they didn’t have time to mind TU’s senatorial candidates.

It can be surmised then that for the national positions, they allowed the voters to choose candidates. Or, the administration’s local candidates were too busy to protect TU’s votes.

The ex-Lakas official’s reading may be true in 7 of the Lakas-Kampi conflict areas where TU lost. Benguet, Masbate, Camarines Sur, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Agusan del Norte, and Agusan del Sur all went for President Arroyo in the 2004 presidential elections.

The victory of opposition senatorial candidates there this year could indeed be explained by the locals’ focus on their own elections – in 4 of these, the Lakas gubernatorial bet won; in 3, the Kampi bets won. They are unlike some congressional districts and cities or municipalities where both the Lakas and Kampi candidates lost.

The most plausible reason for TU’s loss in most of the Lakas-Kampi conflict provinces, however, is that most of them are traditionally opposition areas.

Of the 27 provinces where Lakas and Kampi fielded gubernatorial bets, President Arroyo lost in 11 in the 2004 polls. All these 11 provinces, which voted for opposition bet Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) then, also delivered to the GO bets this year. The only FPJ country in 2004 that became pro-administration this election is Tawi-Tawi, where TU won 7 seats against GO’s 5.

On to the new Senate: much ado about Trillanes: military floats trial ballon –what if they simply don’t let him attend Senate sessions? That way, he can’t use the political ammunition some (anonymous) generals claim they’ll provide him.

In the wake of Silvestre Afable’s resignation, his replacement, Fr. Eliseo Mercado, shares his thoughts on the Mindanao peace process.

Palace certifies bill to extend the life of land reform. The NPA burn another cell site. And San Juan becomes a city. Meanwhile, a far older city is embroiled in a major fight: it’s Tommy Osmena vs. Gwen Garcia over who owns the Fuente Osmena and why Cebu City residents can’t vote for the Cebu governor (when they used to in the past).

Overseas, Asia Sentinel on the implications of the recent anti-terror arrests in Singapore (interesting to me, as article hits Zachary Abuza, a counterterrorism expert I met during a symposium in Washington, D.C.; Abuza visits Mindanao from time to time); pressure mounting from Republican loyalists for George W. Bush to pardon his convicted factotum Scooter Libby has History Unfolding reflecting on the theory of “executive privilege,” and how it’s a myth: something relevant to us, since the present administration’s fond of invoking executive privilege. According to the blogger,

Raoul Berger, a rather elderly legal scholar and concert violinist, who published two remarkable books in the early 1970s, Impeachment: The Constitutional Problems, and Executive Privilege: A Constitutional Myth. He made it clear, as Sam Ervin did before all our eyes, that the inquisitorial power of the legislature really had no constitutional limits–executive privilege depended on what he called “bootstrap precedents” enunciated by successive Presidents from the White House–and that the power to question individuals who were paid by, and spending, taxpayers’ money under oath was really the only way to know what our government was doing, much less to do something about it.

My column for today is Topsy turvy. What’s changed since it was written (just yesterday!) is that Sec. Teves has decided not to quit (he decided against it just yesterday, too, according to Ricky Carandang), but the topsy-turviness remains, because now, Energy Sec. Lotilla has decided to quit (according to Carandang, too). See the Ricky Carandang entry I quoted in my column. See Business Mirror story in EO 625. Also, story on cabinet confusion.

Ducky Paredes runs down the list of disaffected congressmen making noises they want to change the Speaker, for the good of the chamber, they say. But the real reason may be far from grand, but as old as democracy itself: people simply get tired if a leader lasts too long. Meanwhile, last week came and went, and the much talked-about scuttlebutt that Luis Villafuerte would be toppled as Kampi President didn’t come to pass -were things papered over last Friday at the Palace? But Villafuerte has come out swinging (yet again) saying Sec. Puno’s out to get him, confirming last week’s scuttlebutt.

Random Jottings on the fight for the senate presidency.

Former NEDA chief Cielito Habito looks at the 1st Quarter growth rate and examines what created it. Turns out election spending had something to do with it, after all:

What clearly propelled the surprising growth were unusually high government spending (public construction and government consumption, which grew 16.9 and 13.1 percent respectively) and good export growth (9.1 percent).

Unless you were born yesterday, it’s plain to see that the May elections were responsible for this. I should note that even the slightly better private consumption growth must have been pushed up by the massive spending on election campaign materials – not to mention vote-buying.

The problem is, news on government revenues has not been good lately. Unless this trend is turned around dramatically, government is in no position to spend as briskly as it did in the first quarter.

The other propellant of the growth had been exports. Here, the short term outlook doesn’t look encouraging either. Latest export data show a significant slowdown in April to just 5 percent growth.

Such a slowdown had been expected, due to generally slower demand for electronics in the global market – and we rely on this industry for two-thirds of our exports.

This tells me that it is investments we need to work hard on.

Foreign investments are not a problem, mind you; data tell us that they have been grown phenomenally in the past year or so. It is the stakes put in by domestic investors that needs a big boost.

And as for Trillanes, some views from Ramon Farolan (a good guide to what the senior retired officers are thinking), as well as reflections from bloggers Philippine Commentary and The Jester-in-Exile.

Continuing with the blogosphere, the thoughts that wander points to the national budget online.

YugaTech asks why Filipinos seem glued to Friendster.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

83 thoughts on “Mama Mary moved the Muslims

  1. We want things to be efficient so we can get more for less effort.

    Ang Kahusayan ni Tasyo*

    Kung may pasensiya, dili kaya’y may episyensiya?
    ‘Pag naman may pasyente, mayroon ding episyente, ‘di ba?

    Ano pa’ng kahulugan ang hahanapin?
    Kung maaari pala namang isalin…

    Sa isang banda nama’y hindi kailangan
    I-Tagalog ang “efficiency” na pinag-uusapan

    ‘Pagka’t lalo lamang maitatatak
    Sa ating mga kaisipang payak

    Na marami pala ang matatamo
    Sa kakaunting pagtatrabaho

    Ba’t ‘di na lang kaya gumawa?
    Mas higit pa yata ang mapapala!

    *ang Pilosopo

  2. Manolo, that is exactly what I wanted to point out.


    take note we already have a Filipino word for effective,- epektibo. So why why not use that to drive the people and the nation while you are developing the the word efficient..

    as for the recent election, I dont believe we are being highly effective on that in the sense that we were not able to feild the right candidates consequently electing not the right people. yes, we were able to elect 12 senators so we produce results that why you said we are effective. But effective means producing decisive or desired effect or having an intended or expected results. Now, do we highly desired those people who got elected we they were just elected becuase they are a lesser evil or better choice among the field of less desirable people? is that really the results we intended?

    Effectiveness vs Efficiency ? Stepehen Covey has a very good dicussion in his books .. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, First Thing First …etc

  3. spot on manolo.

    more of than than not a message is clouded by the way it is delivered. i agree that benign0 makes a lot of good points whenever he decides to comment on this blog. they just come across, more often than not, as snarky Pinoy bashing.

    another thing i’d like to point out is that there is an attitude among many Filipinos that’s oriented towards suppressing excellence… enforcing a mediocre standard and ostracizing those who express talent and capability beyond this norm. maintaining and enforcing the status quo… “not rocking the boat” seems to be a very common cultural trait.

    bucket of talangka, indeed.

  4. benign0, regarding Philippines v. Singapore, the latter’s smallness was an advantage. LKY did not have to deal with a landed elite. (Of course, this does not take away anything from the remarkable achievements of that city state, only to point out that the context is not the same.) As to the lack of ‘efficiency’ in Philippine elections, one could argue that the chaos came about precisely because of attempts of candidates to become more efficient by taking shortcuts.

    mlq3, in terms of absolute numbers, i don’t think we Filipinos lack ‘the entrepreneurial spirit’. we have enough to work with but what we have not resolved is the large-scale coordination problem between government and entrepreneurs (and inventors). our neighbors progressed because they resolved these problems via sound and flexible industrial policy and the fact that they set-up and listened to their very own development banks (and not to the IMF-WB as we did). in this, hvrds’ writings are more instructive than benign0’s.

  5. baycas,

    love that.

    in short: action speaks louder than words.

    now that’s efficiency.

  6. “i don’t think we Filipinos lack ‘the entrepreneurial spirit’. we have enough to work with but what we have not resolved is the large-scale coordination problem between government and entrepreneurs (and inventors).”

    How then do we explain how the Filipino Chinese managed to surmount immense social and governance obstacles (i.e. their being foreigners and the fact that they were also subject to the same inept governance that the island natives were subject to) to prosper as spectacularly as they now do today?

    All that while native islanders continuously whine about not having “sound and flexible industrial policy” and not listening to “their very own development banks” (among a thousand other excuses).

    As Sean Connery’s character said in the movie “The Rock”

    “Losers whine about doing their best;
    Winners go home and [bonk] the Prom Queen.”

    How’s that for a better piece of poetry to live by (right Inidoro?)? 😉

  7. -just like there is no Tagalog word for “snow”

    then what does “niyebe” mean?

    -effectiveness is what to many is “pwede na”

    Mediocrity is a product of influence by adults to kids. Our whole culture cultivates it. Our people’s propensity for lateness and cramming forces us to just accept mediocre work. Few places are conducive for excellence. most workplaces are bastions of mediocrity. employees are promoted more often bec of seniority than performance (100% true in the public sector) Few Filipino customers demand excellent service. Fewer still are those who bother to punish those who render horrible service. We don’t practice active consumerism, hence we get what we don’t ask for.

    Lately, I’ve become combative instead of being passive bec of this. Maybe it’s bec of lack of sleep, but I am easy to anger when I’m confronted with bad service. Maybe it started when my very pregnant wife was asked to come back and forth to the SSS office while she was filing all the required docs necessary for her to claim her maternity benefits later on. Whenever she goes there for her picture to be taken, she was always told that either the database was off-line or that no one was available to take her picture. Finally, on the nth time she went back there, I came along, and to my fury, I found out that the only reason she was always turned away was that the person tasked to take electronic pictures was jz too lazy to do it. That set me off to an emotional outburst that must’ve surprised that employee. Needless to say, we were finally given the service that we didn’t need to have to fight for.

    The rest just followed. Quarelling with city hall officials moving at a snail’s pace while the line just gets longer in front of them, threatening and actually fulfilling on the threat to stop patronizing a company’s product or offered services bec of inferior and unsatisfactory service. I didn’t know what was possessing me to do these things (as i am a relatively VERY passive guy), but I liked the results I’m getting bec of it. And have resolved from hereon not just to be like this, but to tell others that to get good service, they have to demand and fight for it.

  8. Benign0, how can you explain why China, Korea and Japan only started catching up with the West during the past 100 years? These people were as much ‘Confucians’ (although they are also different from each other in a lot of ways) before (and even more so) as they are today. A Mainland Chinese Benign0 would have had a field day thirty years back beating his own culture’s faults like a dead horse.

    Whatever progress these states have achieved is a result of their economic policies which btw, have more or less similar (whether in Capitalist orea/Japan or Communist China) features. To the extent that India (which has a different culture and race) is economically successful can also be attributed to such industrial policies. Same goes with Malaysia whose bumiputra policies have largely paid off. All these examples demonstrate why i don’t buy racist explanations of economic development.

    As for the Chinese-Filipinos, for all their business-acumen, they haven’t been able to replicate the success of their Taiwanese, Korean much less Japanese counterparts in the area of manufacturing and consequently propel us to NIC-hood. They have become retail or real-estate magnates but even they have largely shied away from manufacturing light- and heavy-industry. This is because the right industrial policies and institutional support from the state is not present.

  9. cvj,

    Guess again.

    The last 200-300 years were just blips in the thousand-year histories of these ‘Confucian’ civilisations.

    You are not comparing apples-to-apples. You are using development timescales applicable to recently-colonised tribal tropical societies like ours to evaluate civilisations with thousand-year histories.

  10. Benign0, but what accounts for the ‘blip’? The historical fact is that these societies fell behind the West at the start of the Age of Exploration (Magellan’s time) and more so during the First and Second Industrial revolutions. They were only able to start catching up during the late 19th century starting with Japan during the Meiji Restoration. Taiwan and Korea followed fifty years ago and China since 1978. They were ‘Confucians’ when they fell behind, they are still ‘Confucians’ now. The variable that changed was their approach to economic development.

  11. “They were only able to start catching up during the late 19th century starting with Japan during the Meiji Restoration. Taiwan and Korea followed fifty years ago and China since 1978. They were ‘Confucians’ when they fell behind, they are still ‘Confucians’ now”

    And indeed they did catch up spectacularly.

    You simply highlight the point I make. These societies set their minds to something and they achieve it.

    Maybe instead of scrounging around for excuses and instead step back and see it for what it is. China was communist, Singapore was some kind of hybrid British parliamentary government, Japan was a reformed feudal domain, Korea was a corruption-infested war-ravaged vestige.

    Even among themselves, they were as different from each other as the Philippines is from any of them.

    Yet they all eventually prospered…

    …and the Philippines continues to muddle along in mediocrity.

  12. Benign0, in the same way that it was not their ‘Confucian’-ness that enabled these Chinese, Korean and Japanese societies to catch-up, it is also not our ‘Filipino’-ness that is holding us back. That is the point i was trying to make above (at June 20, 3:07am) which you countered by your excursion into ‘Filipino Chinese’ vs. ‘native islanders’ entrepreneurial spirits. Now (at 2:00pm) you’re trying to claim that what i said (at 1:00pm) was your message all along. That sure was ‘efficient’.

  13. cvj,

    Dude, you’re overcomplicating things.

    The differences I cited were in their recent histories (the last 100-200 years in the case of China and Japan and the last 50-60 years in the case of Korea and Singapore). When viewed within that timescale, then we are all the same — a bunch of countries that had to catch up with the West and all victims of latter-century European imperialist expansion.

    The common denominator among the ones that did prosper lies in how closely-related and similar these societies are culturally when taken over vastly broader timescales (over the last millenium or two).

    From that perspective the smallness of Filipinos’ culture, heritage, history and collective intellectual horizon is strikingly evident.

  14. The common denominator among the ones that did prosper lies in how closely-related and similar these societies are culturally when taken over vastly broader timescales (over the last millenium or two). – Benign0

    [To repeat], that ‘common denominator’ was already there when these societies fell behind. Their thousand-year culture would not have helped if they did not follow the policies for catching up (which was pioneered by Japan). The variable that made the difference and enabled them to catch up was industrial policy.

    In our case, our ‘smallness in culture, heritage, history etc.’ (in terms of timescale) will not be an obstacle if we get the economics (and politics) right.

    You need to go beyond your woolly racist theories and read up on economic history. I recommend you start with Alice Amsden’s ‘The Rise of the Rest’.

  15. “In our case, our ’smallness in culture, heritage, history etc.’ (in terms of timescale) will not be an obstacle if we get the economics (and politics) right.”

    Tsk tsk. Therein lies the whole problem with Pinoy-style thinking. It’s always about the policies and not about the character of the people.

    As long as there is an entity to blame for our failures — be it economics, politics, colonialism, etc. there will be no effort to take personal accountability for our own success.

    Listen to how contradictory your statement is: “our smallness… will not be an obstacle… IF…”.

    If what?

    If this and that and this and that ad infinitum.

    But the fact remains we have a heritage of smallness — smallness in stature, in mind, and in spirit. And THAT is what is hindering progress.

    You say IF we get the economics right? How can a people with small minds get a beast like the macroeconomic fundamentals of a nation of 90 million right?

    You say IF we get the politics right? Our small-mindedness cannot ever help us see behind the petty partisanism and political gossip favoured by most Pinoys.

    Tsk tsk.

  16. Benign0, we cannot do anything about our ‘smallness in terms of timescale’ because we cannot recreate a past that is not there. Are you suggesting that we abandon Filipino nationhood and join an older culture, just like you have done by migrating to Australia (with their British heritage)?

    I agree that character is important but the character of an individual and society is not changed by snark but by continuous practice and example (especially by that of our leaders). This is the reason why we need to improve the character of our leaders and this is actually what is foremost in the minds of bloggers and many commenters here in Manolo’s blog and in the blog of Ellen Tordesillas when they take issue with GMA’s cheating. Unfortunately, you misunderstand this underlying concern and mischaracterize our behavior as preoccupation with personalities and ‘political gossip’. How can you shape character without dealing with the personalities involved?

  17. cvj,

    The Pinas is a democracy last I heard. So those personalities we love to hate and chatter about merely reflect the character of the electorate, doesn’t it?

    Long gone are the days when Marcos and his minions were convenient scapegoats for the chonic failure of Pinoy society. Today, our leaders are chosen by Filipinos. And the results don’t quite stack up.

    Bakit kaya? 😉

  18. there’s a book i read some time back that reminds me of benigno0’s argument.

    one argument the author made was that the germans lost to the allies because the germans had an artisan’s attitude towards the manufacture of weapons: lost of prototypes, extremely good quality, lots of tinkering but not enough mass production. so the germans built the best tank of ww2, the americans, one of the worst: but lots of them, so that they outnumbered and swamped the germans in terms of tanks, rifles, machine guns, etc.

    these are the same germans we like to think of as impressive examples of efficiency, modernity, etc. but the book points out how they squandered initial advantages. you could go back earlier and point to the perennial german problem of lack of unity, etc.: it took centuries to unite, there remains a temperamental divide between north and south, and so forth.

    in terms of japan and korea, the question wasn’t one of innovation or even excellence; as i pointed out before, it was a case of reverse-engineering and the problems korean and japan society have, at present, is that an essentially top-down and command economy and society has begun to fray after the old certainties -even the old obediences- have begun to wane. japan has a lost generation of salarymen, doesn’t it? and one of its most popular shows is about the new culture of temps in offices, right?

    so ideally we should have more of the german obsession with quality, the japanese and korean sense of discipline and cooperation, etc. and we have to ask why the indonesians and malaysians are also spectacularly capable of political and business corruption but have managed to do more. while we really have squandered many of our initial advantages, such as our forest resources -but i disagree about the marcoses, for example, because in some ways we are beginning to feel the most profound impact of his rule and its lost opportunities, now (he provoked an entire generation of intellectuals to leave and devote their talents to contributing to the economies of other nations, for example, and the erosion of our educational system began under him, etc.)

    but in the end i don’t think tallying our national merits and demerits proves anything more or less than our being an idiosyncratic people. our idiosyncracies might mean we would be better off concentrating our efforts on certain activities, and not in others: it has to mean something that we are the middle-level managers, the architects and draftsmen, not to mention sailors, of the world (but why not, indeed, the ship captains?).

    but even in the things in which we excel -why don’t we have enough excellence here at home? where is the “vision thing”? why hasn’t a new one been articulated since the days of the new society?

    why aren’t we embarking on the path of ireland, instead of trying to turn ourself into confucian drones?

  19. Benign0, depends on what you mean by ‘results’. On why we haven’t progressed economically, among other things, you can read what hvrds has said. On why we cannot get our act together politically (i.e. our flawed democracy), you’re in the right place as Manolo can enlighten you on this matter. On the education front, the latest thread is about that so you can listen in on the discussions, maybe you can pick up something useful. On our lack of sense of nationhood, I can even forward you a letter from a South Korean who advised us that the difference between their success and our failures is because we don’t love our country enough. If you can be more specific with what you mean by results, then maybe i can be more specific in pointing you to where you can find the possible answers. Unfortunately, i don’t know any racist Pinoy-bashing sites who would agree with your thesis but i suppose you’ve got that covered.

  20. sorry manolo, was typing my comment and didn’t see that you’ve already responded. i agree 100% your last three paragraphs.

  21. As for the Overy’s thesis on why the allies won, i beg to disagree. isaac asimov wrote that if hitler was as patient as philip of macedon (alexandar the great’s father), he would have waited until his scientists have perfected the atomic bomb. (and if he was less of a racist, or at least pragmatic, he would have sought the help of the german-jewish scientists instead of scaring them to flee to the United States.) the thing is, being a megalomaniac that he was, he did not want anyone else to get the glory, just as what happened in the case of Alexander ‘the Great’ who was able to use the army that his father built-up. that’s why hitler chose to invade when he did. of course, his rash decision to betray Stalin sealed his fate.

  22. cjv-

    i have to tell you, overy’s book is very convincing. of course there were major strategic errors that hitler committed, but these were compounded by logistical problems, such as the lack of winter clothing in the first year of invading russia. think of hitler’s reluctance to commit the german economy to wartime production full-scale, his lack of interest in drafting women into the work force, etc.

    reading ovey’s book, it seems to me the japanese made similar mistakes and these were compounded by the eventual stranglehold the americans had on the japanese mainland because of their succesful submarine warfare (and japanese strategic errors in fighting carrier battles, again etc.).

    but on a related matter to my point above, in his book “the mask of command,” john keegan raises different models of generalship and since i read the book, i’m convinced that in many ways, we are arguing leadership models along the wrong lines:

    keegan puts forward different leaders as exemplars -positive and negative- of particular types of generalship; e.g. the duke of wellington for aristocratic leadership, grant for democratic leadership, in war. one of our idiosyncracies is a strange combination of personal independence on one hand, and an inability to commit to group obedience on the other; another is, we have imbibed democracy more thoroughly in some respects than can ever be reversed, while curiously remaining underdeveloped in terms of a commitment to collective responsibility or responsible behavior on the other; we can wail about it -and the wailing gets worse if we keep looking to the east asians- or ask ourselves if there’s a southeast asian model worth exploring: singapore, for example, has never been an example i’m interested in because it’s an east asian political culture. which we will never become. but we have a thing or two to learn from malaysia and indonesia, not to mention from places as far afield as italy and again, ireland.

  23. cvj, sorry to say this but you continue to introduce nothing new here as your latest comments are no different from your previous ones. You merely continue to cite even more excuses (the latest one being that we don’t “love” our country enough) for the failure of our society to achieve anything of consequence.

    But thanks for citing all those book titles and references. I’m pretty sure you’ve read them all and maybe I may come across and actually read some of them someday.

    If you need me to be a bit more “specific” about the *results* I talk about, then you truly miss the whole point of this discussion.

    As mlq said, there’s no use in tallying anything (whether it be excuses, merits, or — touche — demerits) because they merely become noise in the context of the reality that our country remains an absolute failure.

    mlq, you summarised things quite well. All those prosperous societies you cited had their weaknesses and strengths. But again it’s about the *results* at the end of the day. They all achieved and prospered.

    I do think you are being unfair to Marcos for the loss of Pinoy talent to foregin societies as that is still happening today. The only difference is that the ones who left during Marcos’s day were disgusted with one man’s tyranny. The ones who leave today are disgusted with the collective tyranny of the society itself. During Marcos’s time it had to do with one man’s outrageous ways. Today it has more to do with the outrage that our society has become.

    That, I think makes todays talent exodus far more tragic than the one under Marcos’s watch.

  24. Just my thoughts:

    * There is a Tagalog word for efficiency- BISA; efficient – MABISA.

    * Japan, China, Korea and other countries with solid historical foundation for culture are often cited as countries that are now successful owing the success to their glorious past. Isn’t Egypt a much older civilization? In fact, the pyramids are a source of Egyptian pride. But, where is Egypt now? If one believes that a nation’s glorious past is directly proportional to the efficiency of its citizens at present, try visiting Cairo. You’d be glad you’re just a visitor. What’s more, you’d be thankful you’re a Pinoy living in Manila.

    * It is not enough that we demand the best from our government. Neither is it enough that we demand the best from ourselves. We have to demand the best from both if we want to succeed as a nation.

  25. Mlq3, thanks for the explanation. My concern about Overy’s approach (and this i say as someone who has not yet read the book) is that he seems to attribute success and failure, in an activity that is full of contingencies such as war, to a set of traits that a given people are supposed to possess, where in reality the outcome of these things usually depend on a messy set of factors. If the outcome were the other way around, the same set of traits could then again be used to explain the alternative results.

    This article by James Surowiecki on attribution errors as explained in Crooked Timber states this better.

    Nevertheless, i suppose my conclusion is not really fair until i give the author a fair reading to see whether my concern applies.

    Yes Benign0, you need to be more specific and not just cry that you want ‘results’. Any 5-year old can do that.

  26. In tank warfare at least, Overy’s point (as commented on by MLQ3 above), is correct. The Germans were obsessed with engineering perfection such that the Panzers and Tigers were delayed and not many were produced. The American and Russian tanks were clunkers that were simpler to operate and they were churning them out of the factories. (In the case of the Russian T-34, the design, although unsophisticated by German standards proved so efficient–effective?–such that it became a prototype for modern tanks.)

  27. Same as this whole war between Apple MAC OS and Microsoft Windows back in the 80’s. Apple had a superior product but Microsoft had a superior business model for mass producing and distributing an inferior (but commercially viable) product.

    In fact, Pinoys have been known to come up with great products. The problem lies in our utter lack of the imagination and thinking faculties required to turn potential into money in the bank.

    As Ambeth Ocampo once observed about the rich marble deposits in Romblon. All Pinoys could see in that otherwise virtually unlimited resource is nothing more than lapidas (headstones) and dikdikans (mortar and pestle).

    For that matter:

    All we could see in our once rich forests was a raw materials export industry.

    All we could see in our highly-educated labour pool is a raw labour export industry.

    All we could see in surplus GI military gear left behind after their pullout is a pathetic caricature that dominates our mass-transport system today.

    All we could see in democracy is an opportunity to gossip and watch candidates dance the ocho-ocho.

    etcetera, etcetera.

    The list of our capability for lack of imagination is poignant in its length.

  28. Let me add to the confusion. It does not take a genius to see that the Germans as well as the Japaneses were spread thin which in war is almost synonymous to defeat, especially considering the number of countries arrayed against them.
    I do not agree with Benigno when he says “The problem lies in our utter lack of the imagination and thinking faculties required to turn potential into money in the bank.” The creativity is there for most people but realities hamper their progress or the realization of their dreams, the foremost reason being their poverty which banks use against them. Have you heard of banks bankrolling risky but promising projects or investments in the country? There is generally lack of support, whether by government or the private sector or even the consuming public, to our inventors such that they would rather sell their products to foreigners than let their invention and whatever they have saved go to waste.

  29. Beancurd, i agree with your observation regarding our banks and their overly conservative stance. Local development banks played a key role in the industrialization of our neighbors.

  30. “Let me add to the confusion. It does not take a genius to see that the Germans as well as the Japaneses were spread thin which in war is almost synonymous to defeat..”

    Which is what happened. The only way to win in war when your troops are spread very thinly is to have your opponents always on the defensive until you’ve conquered them all. Then is the only time you stop and bunker in your new territories.

    “All Pinoys could see in that otherwise virtually unlimited resource is nothing more than lapidas (headstones) and dikdikans (mortar and pestle).”

    Sad, but true.

  31. “All Pinoys could see in that otherwise virtually unlimited resource is nothing more than lapidas (headstones) and dikdikans (mortar and pestle).”

    Sad, but true.

    Is it? Really?

  32. Jeg, that’s supposedly what Nick Joaquin wrote but i would take exception to his ‘All‘. Never good to generalize as you can see by its effect on impressionable minds like Benign0’s.

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