Ping Pong

Panfilo Lacson;s brought the “Hello, Garci” issue back to center stage: ‘I heard Arroyo, Garci talk,’ says ex-sergeant: She asked about 1-M votes, claims ex-ISAFP agent. See Ellen Tordesillas and An OFW in Hong Kong for more.

I believe Dean Jorge Bocobo was the first to argue that the real story -and scandal- all along, boils down to a question: how could the President of the Philippines end up with a tapped phone? Senator Lacson seems to be inclined to pursue that question, trotting out Doble, who says the intelligence service could tap people, with the connivance of a telecoms firm. Doble says the President was, in a sense, “collateral damage.”

DJB may be right in that, if you ask how a President could be the victim of wiretapping, it establishes that wiretapping took place; you would then have to resolve whether what was wiretapped -the conversations- are useful for other cases, along the way verifying the authenticity of those conversations.

Who knows, maybe Ping and Pong are better-prepared this time around. The Senate, convened as a committee of the whole, has a chance to hold orderly but in-depth hearings, which can ask:

1. Who ordered the so-called “Operation Lighthouse”? For what purpose? Who decided it should be undertaken by the ISAFP?
2. On what basis did ISAFP conduct its eavesdropping operations, and how, and to what extent, and on what legal basis, did the telecoms company assist ISAFP?
3. How did ISAFP’s tapes end up being sold?
4. The President implicitly confirmed the authenticity of at least one event supposedly recorded in the tapes. What is the legal implication of this admission? At which point, if any, did she break, bend, or mishandle the law? Even if a victim of the wiretapping, what if she had authorized the operations in the first place, in aid of reelection?

Certainly, there’s plenty of opportunities afforded by these questions, for investigations in aid of legislation, much as I disagree with this limitation on Congress’ powers of inquiry, which I’ve long argued we already approach from a Wilsonian point of view, and it’s time our jurisprudence caught up. They are questions independent of the stand some like myself have taken with regards to the President’s fitness for office: as I explained at the time, what mattered less was what the tapes contained, but how the President (mis)handled the issue. These questions, in the time that’s passed since, goes beyond the President’s being in office or not, or whether the public is resigned to her finishing her term (I believe public opinion is inclined to let sleeping dogs lie). But whoever is president and will become president, has to worry about the possibility the ISAFP can run around wiretapping people, from the President to has-been movie actors.

Jove Francisco reports on how the President didn’t sound combative even when she insisted combat operations will continue in Sulu and Basilan.

Overseas, Paulson says no quick fix for credit problems. He’s the US Treasury Secretary; and so Wall St. remained on edge. Meanwhile, Chinese central bank raises interest rates, pointing to concerns over higher inflation. Economist Nouriel Roubini explains why “the Fed actions on Friday have been so far ineffective and the investors’ panic and rush to the safety is in full swing”.

On the other hand, guarded optimism from The Economist about the country in The Jeepney economy revs up. Its cautionary tone is explained as follows:

All good news, but worries remain. However welcome the growth in call-centre jobs, it is engineering and business graduates who are queueing to take them. A recent International Labour Organisation study noted that the country’s average annual productivity growth between 2000 and 2005 was just 0.9%, compared with 10.3% in China and 4.9% in India, suggesting that “many new job entrants are underemployed”.

A chief problem, despite foreign interest, is a rate of investment that is at 20-year lows as a share of GDP. Poor infrastructure, especially roads, hampers businesses of all sorts. Gil Beltran, a senior finance-ministry official, says the government intends to increase annual infrastructure spending from 2.8% of GDP to 5%. Successive administrations have had a poor record of keeping such promises.

The public finances still need a lot of fixing. Tax revenues as a share of GDP are still below pre-1997 levels, while public debt is high, at around 75% of GDP. The next big job, says Mr Beltran, is to simplify the mess of illogical tax breaks that cost a fortune in lost revenues. Efforts to drag big-business tax-dodgers to court have so far got nowhere. A swingeing tax rise on Jeepney owners looks like squeezing the poor to spare the rich.

The Inquirer editorial says former Chief Justice Andres Narvasa was wrong in suggesting finding out who ordered Ninoy Aquino killed is a lost cause. A fascinating comparison of Beijing in the 70s, 80s, and now, in Haggling and horror at Tiananmen.

A whole heap of interesting reading in the blogosphere. A heart-breaking entry in fish in a bowl, on a friend’s losing a daughter.

Iloilo City Boy is back to blogging, and has two insightful pieces: the first is Oil Spills Are Cheap In This Country : The Petron Oil Spill A Year After. The second, The New Hacendero.

Iloilo City Boy’s look at how landlord-tenant relationships are evolving in Negros serves as a reminder of how things on the ground are changing, ot necessarily for better or worse, but changing -this is something that caffeine sparks looks into, in terms of the OFW phenomenon, with its complex issues. The Journal of the Jester-in-Exile provides a thorough update on the debate sparked by Malu Fernandez’s writings, but caffeine sparks provides the broader context on OFWs and how they are increasingly flexing their political muscles. Incidentally, baratillo@cubao points to another writer in trouble.

The language debates has a thoughtful piece by A Nagueno in the Blogosphere (who thinks regions should be allowed to formulate their own education policies, an advocacy I strongly support, and this means greater latitude when it comes to language policies), and Demosthenes’ Game (who does make a good point that there are probably those who oppose English instruction because it goes against the interests of the politburo, which is interested in filtering ideologically-inconvenient information) making an observation I find curious:

Which is something we’ve been doing here for ages, voting with our feet I mean. After all, no private school here can remain in business very long without giving English pre-eminent position in its curriculum. No, the issue here is the failure of our so-called democracy for the past two decades to heed the will of the people, instead paying obeisance to the all-knowing ‘nationalist’ academicians of our cultural politburo. Look where that got us. Only now is the situation being rectified, and none too soon. No, the issue was never which was the better curriculum. The issue was always about choice. And that those who had none should have the same as those who could, and did, vote with their feet.

What I find curious is that if you ask the owners and administrators of public schools, their problem is that people are voting with their feet -but not in the direction Demosthenes’ Game assumes. Generally, the problems I most often hear, are three:

1. Private schools are hemorrhaging faculty to the public schools, which now offer, at the very least, competitive salaries and in some areas, better salaries than private schools.

2. Private schools are also experiencing a decrease in enrollment. Parents are taking their kids out of the private schools and sending them to public schools. In some areas, it’s because substantial investments have been made by local authorities in the public school system, which then becomes competitive, but in other areas, the public school system has been expanded, is mediocre at best, but exists, and that’s all that matters; in these areas, parents move their kids from private to public school because it’s much less expensive for the parents, regardless of the quality (or lack of it) of the education being provided. The drop in enrollment is being experienced both by establish private schools (belonging to the religious orders, for example) and the increasing number of small private schools.

3. Whether public or private, school administrators face pressure from parents to pass the kids, regardless of whether they’re qualified to move on to the next level or not; for private schools, the pressure is to keep moving kids along from one level to the next, to keep parents happy; in public schools, it’s because so many kids are entering school, no one can be made to stay behind: the quota system at its worst.

Red’s Herring reflects on Nick Joaquin and Rizal; Philippine Commentary reflects on Ninoy Aquino and takes Conrado de Quiros to task for not exploring Jovito Salonga’s assertion that the Plaza Miranda bombing was ordered by Jose Ma. Sison. Big Mango offers up some thoughts on political parties.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

143 thoughts on “Ping Pong

  1. “But certain inconveniences arise from the commercial spirit, Men’s views are confined, and “when a person’s whole attention is bestowed on the seventeenth part of a pin or the eightieth part of the button,” he becomes stupid. Education is neglected. In Scotland, the meanest porter can read and write, but at Birmingham boys of six or seven can earn threepence or sixpence a day, so that their parents set them to work early and their education is neglected….”

    “There is too ‘another great loss which attends the putting boys too soon to work. The boys throw off parental authority, and betake themselves to drunkenness and riot.”

    “The workmen in the commercial parts of England are consequently in a ‘despicable’ condition; their work through half the week is sufficient to maintain them, and through want of education they have no amusement for other but riot and debauchery. So it may very justly be said that the people who clothe the whole world are in rags themselves.” Adam Smith .. the Wealth of Nations, describing the conditions of peasants being put to work in the early manufactures at the dawn of the industrial revolution.

    A word of caution on being too harsh on pinoys who are forced into circumstances where they have no choices.”

    Does this mean Filipinos and others from poor nations are not alone in having to leave school early and work instead.Even with thatmore than century old excerpt from the wealth of nations?

    Yes, I believe so just look at the mighty US, were Bill Gates have to donate a huge amont together with Oprah and some ex NBA stars just to save public education.

    And speaking of Oprah just a few months ago,they showed how delapidated a certain public school was and guess what,it was afew blocks from the White House.


    ON EO464

    I think Gen. Esperon, will get away with the denial of having a basement, on national TV.

    Is General ABU still covered by the EO?

    But, I think it is not newsworthy, so who even cares?

  2. We as Tagalog speakers are in a position to know with some level of authority that Tagalog completely lacks a concept of efficiency.

    Manolo, actualy, the word the French use to mean “efficient” is efficace – which is closer to “effective.” When they use it in the context of business, they use the word economique – again, much closer to “cost-effective.”

    “Efficiency,” as a concept that means maximum productivity with as little cost (materials + labour) as possible, is a unique cultural product of the the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution – Britain.

    France, which is a mere channel away from Britain, also does not have the same concept of “efficiency” as the Brits do.

    So please, lets not use linguistics as an indicator of anything.

  3. “If you haven’t been in the Philippines for a while, then you won’t know week after week there’s nothing else in newspaper job ads but call centre placements. Why would any thinking being choose to ignore a loud and booming employment opportunity?”

    But I thought the mining industry is booming too, so there must be some jobs in this feild for teh engineer particularly, Mining and Metallurgical engineers and geologists. Oh but the problem here is that these are not very popular courses. And its a very “lonely job” too. Sa bundok ka lagi naaassign.

    So siguro maiigi na rin yung call center.

  4. Benigno, the closest translation we can have for efficiency is “kahusayan.” the absence of an exact word for it doesn’t mean Filipinos do not know the meaning of efficiency.

    it’s like assuming Filipinos have no word for snow bec they’ve never experience it. And yet what is “niyebe?”

    Karl, the link I’ve posted is just a short excerpt from Pahlaniuk’s work. it won’t even take 10 minutes to read.

    And the US’s problem on education is even worser than ours, if you’d care to believe. For proof, look no further. They elected Bush Jr. TWICE!

    Watching FOX would also give quite an insight into how supposed “educated” professionals in the US think. they’re even worse than GMA and ABS-CBN when it comes to infotainment. and balanced views or news, FOX aint. As O’Reilly likes to put it: SPIN, stops here. (yeah, it definitely does stop at FOX. and stays there too! i believe it’s been homey for a long, long time) O’Reilly and Cavuto are both journalists using their access to media to preach on a high pulpit. on what ground? are journalists supposed to cross the line between delivering news and making one of their own? thank God, our mass media hasn’t come to that point yet. Imagine Korina or Mike Enriquez preaching on TV. foisting unwanted opinions on viewers…

  5. re call centers, not all call center jobs are “idiot-friendly” or peachy and “easy” as some may imagine. akala ng iba ang trabaho ng agents ay umangat lang ng telepono at mag hello at magdadakdak at kung tratuhin ang trabahong ito ay parang di nangangailangan ng utak man lamang para makapasok dito.

    basically, those in DA (directory assistance) are the ones requiring least cerebral work, and more speaking endurance. after all, how much neurons do you need to type in a computer keywords or phrases for a search? and then simply relay that info back to the customer? no reasoning or analytical skills are required.

    but specialized call center support are a different thing. that’s why they’re specifically hiring engineers, accountants, medical professionals, and IT graduates for those accounts.

    i myself worked as a CSR for Verizon US(the biggest telecom in the world). and you can’t imagine the amount of skill you need to operate cross-platforms all at the same time while talking and trying to pacify irate callers. and the systems we’re using are not icon based but command based. imagine using DOS, PASCAL, WORDSTAR, DBASE (jz an example) simultaneously while searching for one tiny detail of what’s wrong with the customer’s account. (the commands, you might imagine, are so MANY) the volume of work i handled would make CPA grads crazy with stress. (and im not even an accounting grad!)

    I also didn’t acquire that STARBUCKS culture that so many agents seem to fall into. (though i did relapse into smoking again after having quit for years) I’ve only been inside Starbucks twice. both times when I was meeting someone. i can’t bring myself sip coffee the price of which could feed a starving family of four.

    call center jobs, basically, are not for the creative or innovative individual. it’s a dead-end. as most entry-level jobs are for their kind. (a thing I learned from reading Peter Principle from wiki) but if you’re the kind who thrives on order, protocols, and doing same stuff over and over again, you’d thrive in this industry.

  6. Abe,

    1) I am mannered too, during my lazy times. When I’m not, I am simply a bad writer. I will leave my serious literary works out of this for now. Remember, we are talking about what are supposedly our best literary producers, Nick Joaquin and the people who followed him like Dalisay and Lacaba. Remember too that the Philippines is uniquely situated between the state of being cultural lost and the opposite state of having culturally found itself. Do you think the writing of these people are relevant for our situation now? They themselves would admit, most Filipino writers are derivative, most except a certain Bautista, Jose and a few other unknowns (I am assuming that a democratic country of 85 million people can produce a lot of original writers)

    2 Yes, like a painter. Have you seen one of our modern painters in “action”? I dunno, maybe I’m just jealous of all the hot girls that think they are interesting but I won’t pay 50 pesos for one of their obras. I said, he was a overacting. An artist, but an artist who, even in his old age, was not sure about himself.

    3.Mannered is really just stilted style. A style that does less for meaning as it does for effect. What I’m criticizing about some of our writers is that you can actually see how much they want to prove they are good in English… while you are reading them. How pathetically embarrassing is that? Especially since these are supposed to be our best.

  7. “mlq3, but that was PRECISELY the point I was making. The reality is that “efficiency” is not ingrained in our cultural fabric because we do not have a strong tradition of scientific achievement built upon an aspiration to become efficient.”

    If there isn’t one, imagine making up a word for it in the local dialect. If you cannot do it without changing your view of Filipinos and of the Philippines then Benign0 is right, the word does not exist.

  8. I interpret this original lack as an indicator of the LIMITS of our culture to READILY comprehend certain things. Surely there are other far more subtle concepts beyond “efficiency” that cultures with far richer and deeper CULTURAL CAPITAL are able to articulate NATURALLY that are beyond the reach of the collective intellectual scope of our society.

    Only someone with little appreciation of human history and who seems to have a deeply-ingrained self-hatred will say a sweeping generalisation as this.

    The sovereign Filipino has only been around for 60 years. The Philippines as an independent “nation” has only been around for 60 years. “Nations” as political, social, economic and cultural units have only been around for 360 years. Europe, against which this cultural comparison is evidently being made, has only been a purveyor of intellectual dominance since the Renaissance – after centuries of aping the innovations and ideas of the East. When Arabs first landed in Spain, I bet they thought Europeans were backward too.

  9. “CSR for Verizon US(the biggest telecom in the world”

    Devil, At&T is bigger than Verizon. Verizon is only second in the U.S. Deutsche Telekom is the largest, outside China, it’s subsidiary being T-Mobile.

  10. BrianB,

    Before the Malu mania eruption, I had had the chance to product-test my own “acerbic wit” on the issue, the gist of which however is to connect the dots to my post about Nick Joaquin and Rizal. Thus the suggestion that

    If we want to be on board the Pequod and go whaling (or Malu-ing), shouldn’t we be harpooning Moby-Dicks, the likes of Mr. Nick?

    Dead or alive?

    Subjected to laissez faire, it apparently didn’t sell.

    I was likewise serious not so much because, per mlq3, of Joaquin’s incessant nostalgia with the Spanish past – possibly at the expense of our “racial memory” or the “aspirations of (our) own people, their search for social justice and a moral order” – but also as a literary icon, Joaquin set him up as a bad example for people like, well, Malu (and BenignO?), the kind of deplorable “larger point . . . which is the clannish, cliquish, extremely self-satisfied yet paranoid and therefore, vengeful but ultimately sterile, world (Brian) sees not just in the literary world but in what passes for high society in this country.”

    So, in a way, I was being acerbic again by forcing an invalid simile (which was not mlq3’s intention I guess) between “political elites” and “literary elites” because in the end, I am vaguely implying, it is their duty, by some measures in their subconscious, to serve the culture that sustains them.

    Which brings me to the Gramscian formulation that distinguishes between traditional intellectuals who serve the “clannish, cliquish” culture of the dominant class and the organic intellectuals who can universalize their experience and sever themselves from the dominant culture (possibly something akin to what we may call for lack of a better label as the Joaquin-Jose literary dichotomy, although I confess like cvj who prefers non-fiction, I am not a reader of either.)

    Thus, contrary to BenignO’s thesis, people not being encouraged through the institutions (e.g., school curriculum from kindergarten to higher education) to disobey or to challenge or for that matter to think for themselves is not uniquely Filipino (or Third-Worldish) but is in fact systematic in countries he idolizes, foremost of which is the US where the media, the literary community, the school system are supposed to perform their basic institutional role, that is, to instill conformity to the established order.

    Several years ago, I had this online debate (before blogging was in vogue) about why according to a survey by Pulse Asia an overwhelming majority of the Filipinos welcome US military help. One of my arguments (which seems not dissimilar to yours) is as follows:

    I believe it is through exchange like this that respectful disagreements could be reached, not through a downward flow of information from the top to the bottom, precipitated by polls or by news practitioners or by elite figures like Cardinal Sin.

    Anyway, does the result of the survey indicate “the pro-American leanings of the population” or something else? This is an excellent question because it should really challenge us to draw upon our critical sense. What I mean by this is, whether to find an answer to your question, we should go beyond the Quezonian dilemma: Is it preferable to be ruled like hell by ourselves or like heaven by the Americans? President Quezon got his wish and Filipinos obtained their “formal” independence in 1946. But indeed the struggle for liberation of the Filipino mind has just begun. The likes of Recto, Tañada, Diokno, and Salonga fought their battles within the hegemonic framework (hegemony here being the permeation of the dominant will and values in all societal aspects).

    Renato Constantino, on the other hand, pursued a different route outside traditional nationalism which, although nativist in certain ways, has achieved greater “decolonizing” effects essential to genuine liberation.

    Why are many of us wholeheartedly welcoming GI Joe to “train” our soldiers in jungle warfare in our own terrain?

    Echoing Gramsci . . . , my sense is that the Filipinos have remained consenting participants in their continued colonization, not by force or fiat, but by the conspiracy of their unliberated mind.

  11. Call centers:

    I should react to that,although I know its quite boring and paulit ulit.

    In the two accounts I have a chance to serve,one medical insurance, and the other one credit cards; you may encounter idiot callers but the Call center agents are definitely not idiots,to those whio think that it is a no brainer,go ahead,try it

    Point of digression.
    Although I acknowledge that there is nothing we can do with Benigno’s style, I think calling Pinoys pathetic is way to harsh. Mas magaan pa pakinggan yung tagalog version nya na kawawang pinoy.

  12. “I think it became an official technical term when development of steam engines started (a milestone in that the use of steam power marked the beginning of our dependence on fossil fuels).”

    what?!? it took the americans this long to understand the concept of efficiency, and they have to build steam engines?!?

    boy, oh boy, the bronze age people did not build the rolling wheels for nothing. they did not even have a word for efficiency.

  13. okay, i got that steam engine creator part wrong. ah, this attribution to all things western.

    but i stand by that eons of time differential.

  14. “contrary to BenignO’s thesis, people not being encouraged through the institutions (e.g., school curriculum from kindergarten to higher education) to disobey or to challenge or for that matter to think for themselves is not uniquely Filipino ”

    Abe, I never asserted that (1) the dysfunctions I cite are UNIQUELY Pinoy, nor (2) that it is institutions of learning that encourage rote thinking.

    What I do assert is that a lack of thinking inclination PERVADES the overall culture of Pinoy society (thus I do not single out any one particular factor or institution). This was succinctly summarised by this fellow:

    If you will read the above you will find that this humble fellow’s observation highlights the fact (contradicting whatever strawman you seem to make of the U.S.) that people are GENERALLY afforded the opportunity to think freely in advanced societies like the U.S. (notwithstanding some of their issues with religious zealotry in certain “heartland” communities over there).

    I do not disagree that institutions tend to attempt to enforce order, compliance, and conformity. In fact that’s what they are there for in ANY society. The difference lies in the way people RESPOND to their institutions. Whereas in the Philippines you will find resignation and (at worst) utter lack of comprehension on the issues surrounding what their institutions are up to, in advanced societies you will find active DEBATE on the NATURE (in contrast with personalities) of the way said institutions operate.

  15. BenignO,

    First, please don’t omit “(Third-Worldish)” after “uniquely Filipino” from the quote above to show its full context.

    I hope this will help Benigs:

    The evil is not that [inefficiency] exists more or less latently but that it is fostered and magnified. Among men, as well as among nations, there exist not only aptitudes but also tendencies toward good and evil. To foster the good ones and aid them, as well as correct the evil and repress them, would be the duty of society and governments, if less noble thoughts did not occupy their attention. The evil is that the [inefficiency] in the Philippines is a magnified [inefficiency], an [inefficiency] of the snowball type, if we may be permitted the expression, an evil that increases in direct proportion to the square of the periods of time, an effect of misgovernment and of backwardness, as we said, and not a cause thereof. Others will hold the contrary opinion, especially those who have a hand in the misgovernment, but we do not care . . . (Italics mine)- by Rizal

    If instead we put in the bracket [heritage of smallness], that should probably help Joaquin’s followers too.

    Here’s one insight, from Indian novelist Arundhati Roy that BrianB has mentioned above, about how conformity is manufactured in the U.S.:

    [I]t is almost axiomatic for thousands, possibly millions, of us that public opinion in “free market” democracies is manufactured just like any other mass market product – soap, switches, or sliced bread. We know that while, legally and constitutionally, speech may be free, the space in which that freedom can be exercised has been snatched from us and auctioned to the highest bidders.

    You may read my full piece here.

    Benigs, I’m quite lucky having been able to observe the American schools system first hand. It’s beginning to alarm me because what’s drilled to students day in, day out: follow instruction, listen. They are basically trained to accept things and not to ask too many questions. A student easily becomes a behavioral problem if he or she doesn’t conform or show independent-mindedness, a good number of them are placed on Ritalin or some other drugs with calming effects. Ang malikot ang tawag ay ADD. Do you know why Americans fall in line everywhere, the kind of neat culture you admire? The drill starts from pre-school, kids marching on the hallway like little Marines, with fingers on their shut mouth. And do you have a guess why this behavior is important when they group up? I do, for EFFICIENY. In the workplace, where they will spend most of their waking hours as adults, there’s no democracy.

  16. Abe,

    Apologies for leaving out “third-worldish” as it does turns out that I did lose a bit of context in quoting your words. 😉

    That [induced] conformity you perceive to be afflicting Americans has been happening for quite some time. It’s an outcome of a science called brand marketing. And while it does to some extent rally people into certain cultural behaviours — a taste for blue jeans, Mickey Mouse, and John Wayne (and the gun culture that follows it), this is in no way the same as the way Pinoys seem to just simply lack any inclination to use CRITICAL THINKING to CHALLENGE ideas, belief systems, or approaches to doing things.

    It’s also interesting to note that the successful societies in East Asia — Greater China, Korea, and Japan, are societies known for (1) possessing a far more regimented approach to education and (2) placing far more value on conformity and uniformity relative to the West.

    And yet they are part of the prosperous world (not quite mainland China but at least they are getting there).

    Also we seem to be in denial of the reality that our cultural predisposition to, say, lack of efficiency or lack of predisposition to think is the ultimate cause of our failure to prosper, as is apparent in your saying that they are effects “of misgovernment and of backwardness, as we said, and not a cause thereof” (a view that is in line with cvj’s thinking as well).

    Don’t you think this view is a product of years of being conditioned to think that government is to blame for our inability to prosper (as such it is the dominant line of reasoning taken by most Pinoys who grasp at straws to explain our chronic failure to prosper as a society)? If so, then how does this explain how the Filipino Chinese came to dominate Philippine commerce despite being subject to the same dysfunctional governance?

  17. this is in no way the same as the way Pinoys seem to just simply lack any inclination to use CRITICAL THINKING to CHALLENGE ideas, belief systems, or approaches to doing things.

    Manong Benign0, saan po ba kayo nag-aral nu’ng nasa Pilipinas pa kayo? Kasi po, sa pamantasang pinanggalingan ko, lahat ay bukas sa pagtatanong at panuri. Siguro po ay galing kayo sa henerasyong iba’ng-iba sa akin, kung kaya’t tila ‘sing tigas na yata ng bato ang inyong opinyon ukol sa kakulangan ng kakayanan ng Pilipino.

    Maikwento ko lang, na sa larangan ng disiplina’ng pinag-aaralan ko dito sa Australia, maihahalintulad sa galing at lalim ng mga naging guro ko sa Pilipinas. Sa ilang aspeto, mas magaling pa nga.

    Ilang linggo ang nakalipas, pinag-aralan namin ang low-violence strategies ng new social movements sa daigdig. Ang Pilipinas ang modelo’ng pinagbatayan ng mga bagong demokrasya sa dating Soviet Union. Ang Pilipinas nga naman ang una. Pinatunayan ng ating lahi na kaya ng isang sambayana’ng ipaglaban ang kalayaan sa pamamagitan ng People Power.

    Kung wala na po tayong ibang ma-iaamabag sa pangkalahatang kaalaman ng sangkatauhan, kuntento na po ako.

  18. “Echoing Gramsci . . . , my sense is that the Filipinos have remained consenting participants in their continued colonization, not by force or fiat, but by the conspiracy of their unliberated mind.”

    I’ve never really thought how Gramscian I am becoming. He makes too fine a point on everything to really appeal to me. He, he, he actually thinks more like many people here than me. As far as his concept of one ruling culture’s trickle down effect on the middle class and the masses, you are absolutely right. I mean Gramsci was.

    But then, I think Filipinos just need one thing, a democratic education from elementary onwards. Nothing dramatic, just the Bill of Rights being memorized by heart by school kids.

    And another thing about our Gramscian ruling culture: I am imagining a poor boy having the ear of the U.S. and Europe and then using that influence to humiliate the Philippine elite. Won’t that go far in undermining their hold on the masses?

  19. I mean, Abe, American influence works both ways. It used to be to the advantage of the Harvard educated, but it could easily be turned around. One writer, one intellectual who has the ear of the world, can pull down the veil.

  20. BENIGNO: That [induced] conformity you perceive to be afflicting Americans has been happening for quite some time. It’s an outcome of a science called brand marketing. And while it does to some extent rally people into certain cultural behaviours — a taste for blue jeans, Mickey Mouse, and John Wayne (and the gun culture that follows it), this is in no way the same as the way Pinoys seem to just simply lack any inclination to use CRITICAL THINKING to CHALLENGE ideas, belief systems, or approaches to doing things.

    ABE: When what’s being sold are blue jeans, soaps and chewing gums, the science may be called brand marketing, if ideology or ideas, use of “soft power” (basically propaganda) and/or “hard power” (war, economic incentives/sanctions or “low intensity conflict” aka counter-insurgency or sometimes called “peacemaking”) are resorted to. If you can get others to want what you want, it costs you much less in terms of using economic incentives or going to full-scale war. You got the right word for it. EFFICIENCY.

    Please try to get this one Benigs. Political dissenters in the US dissent “within range” and therefore stop short at CHALLEGING the core belief system. In my town in Bikol, we call them “pala”; in Wall Street jargon it is more akin to “manipulated trading,” the consequence of which is in fact the façade of dissent works to reinforce the system in place that is supposedly being challenged. So in the U.S., there’s no such political animal as radical as Crispin Beltran, Satur Campo or Teddy Casino running around Congress actively participating to reshape the system itself. Thus, in democratic terms, I believe that the Philippine political system is superior to the American political system.

    BENIGNO: It’s also interesting to note that the successful societies in East Asia — Greater China, Korea, and Japan, are societies known for (1) possessing a far more regimented approach to education and (2) placing far more value on conformity and uniformity relative to the West.

    And yet they are part of the prosperous world (not quite mainland China but at least they are getting there).

    Also we seem to be in denial of the reality that our cultural predisposition to, say, lack of efficiency or lack of predisposition to think is the ultimate cause of our failure to prosper, as is apparent in your saying that they are effects “of misgovernment and of backwardness, as we said, and not a cause thereof” (a view that is in line with cvj’s thinking as well).

    Don’t you think this view is a product of years of being conditioned to think that government is to blame for our inability to prosper (as such it is the dominant line of reasoning taken by most Pinoys who grasp at straws to explain our chronic failure to prosper as a society)? If so, then how does this explain how the Filipino Chinese came to dominate Philippine commerce despite being subject to the same dysfunctional governance?

    ABE: What should probably interest you more is that all these successful East Asian countries (and now China) have been very fortunate to have the chance to adopt the same economic strategy that had propelled America (as well as the European economies of the first Industrial Revolution) into being the economic power that it is today. I call it the Hamiltonian system or otherwise State-coordinated economy. What makes these economies successful is that the bureaucrats/technocrats (e.g. the Hamiltonian wisemen or the MTTI in Japan) predominates the private sector.

    What we have in the Philippines is what Manolo is kind of suggesting in his latest entry, per Joe Studwell, as the Godfather system (the mestizo/taipan system is probably more descriptive) con WTO/IFM/WB market prescriptions. And there’s the rub, successful economies employ the “mutated” market system. We are under “prescription” to swallow the bitter pill of the “pure” market variety. Now, what makes the Godfather system stinks is that the Godfathers (some whose “sense of country” may be questionable) predominates the bureaucrats/technocrats.

    I have tried to explain the myth of Amy Chua’s “market-dominant minority” (Amy Chua is a tsinay Yale Law School professor and author) this way:

    The economic success of the ethnic Chinese in Southeast Asia—by the argument of some adopting the Weberian thesis—is attributed to Confucian ethics, while others consider it as owing to certain cultural factors such as saving habits or attitudes toward education. I don’t buy these theories for, otherwise, there would have been no Chinese Revolution by millions of hungry and humiliated Chinese people.

    My two cents on the causes of this disproportionately high economic performance of overseas Chinese are: First, a key success factor is the immense pressure to succeed “outsiders” imposed upon themselves once in far-off land; second, newcomers were normally provided with the “benefit of head start” by those who had come earlier and made it. (One fitting example is taipan John Gokongwei, Jr., who delivered a speech at the Ateneo de Manila University on “entrepreneurship” in July 2002, tracing his rags-to-riches story ala Horatio Alger but admitting he was given a head start by then China Bank Chairman Dr. Albino Sycip, and DK Chiong, then the Bank’s president, an opportunity often denied to other struggling start-ups.); third, those who opted for the life of exile—the Jews who wandered everywhere, America’s founding fathers and the Pinoy immigrants and OFWs are, I think, of the same variety—are generally, and maybe “genetically,” risk-takers, and just like the “pirates and the pariahs” of the ancient, they are not only survivors but among the “cream of the crop”; and fourth but not least, being explorers as well as exploiters, they benefited greatly under the dominant economic system of “survival of the fittest.”
    SPARK: Ang Pilipinas ang modelo’ng pinagbatayan ng mga bagong demokrasya sa dating Soviet Union. Ang Pilipinas nga naman ang una. Pinatunayan ng ating lahi na kaya ng isang sambayana’ng ipaglaban ang kalayaan sa pamamagitan ng People Power.
    Kung wala na po tayong ibang ma-iaamabag sa pangkalahatang kaalaman ng sangkatauhan, kuntento na po ako.
    ABE: Sparkling! I have written something like that before, like this:

    “Filipinos must continue to revisit the gift of People Power and fathom the depth of resources it offers regardless of how many times the Supreme Court in the context of procedural democracy attempts to defang, or certain other misguided Filipinos misuse, it.

    “People Power is too precious to be squandered because it is probably all the Filipinos have for now.”

    BrianB: One writer, one intellectual who has the ear of the world, can pull down the veil.

    ABE: It probably takes a village. Right Tingog?

  21. “It probably takes a village. Right Tingog?”

    Back to Gramsci. I was thinking. Philippine communism is failing because it cannot dissuade the masses from espousing the values of the rich: respect for wealth, church and Americans (i.e. foreigners from an advanced culture). But what if there is no communism, and mass culture takes the Church and the Americans for its own. Wealth they don’t have and can do nothing about, but they do have their resentments for it, and envy is a powerful feeling. Take away communism and you will have a mass that can actually take over.

  22. Well, Abe, I suppose besides the usual definition I root for more humans instead of fewer humans, and I don’t mean I don’t like condoms.

  23. “How does this explain how the Filipino Chinese came to dominate Philippine commerce despite being subject to the same dysfunctional governance?” Abe Margallo.

    simple, abe. the chinese came here not expecting any help from the “dysfunctional” government you’re talking about. they have to rely on their own grit, determination, and native ingenuity, i.e. “efficiency”. they didn’t ask much – only the freedom to sell anything from taho to mami & siopao. the same is true with the expatriate jews all over the world prior to world war ii. they had absolutely nothing in terms of political and economic aid from their hostile hosts but they prospered, becoming bankers, professionals, scientists and artisans of world renown. they are not the whimperers, bellyachers, complainers, self-justifying people that the average pinoy is. they believe in PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.

  24. Bencard,

    I’m just really curious, would you consider benignO and yourself as “average Pinoy.”

    Or would anyone whom you have exchanged views with in this forum an “average Pinoy,” for example, jaxius, cvj, Shaman, mb, KG, rego, schumey, BriaB, inodoro, Devilsavc8, DJB, jeg, John Marzan, naganueño, The Ca T, mlq3, Nick, watchful eye, sparks, vic, Jon Mariano, etc?

    Otherwise, who would an “average Pinoy” be?

    btw, the quote in your post is benignO’s not mine.

  25. abe, my apologies for the wrong attribution. to me, “average pinoy” is one who, generally, blames the government for every misery he suffers in life, one who thinks the government is reponsible to make him “happy” and self-sufficient as a matter of natural entitlement. anyone who fits this description, including myself, is “average” in my estimation simply because it is a pretty common trait. basis: read and analyze every single post in this blog.

  26. Abe,

    Those four items you mentioned highlight the very point I’ve been making since time immemorial (or at least since 2000). As a matter of fact they form, as cvj put it, my “template” analysis of Pinoy dysfunction.

    Regardless of how or why the Chinese got that way or how or why Pinoys got the way we did, the REALITY is that’s our collective character TODAY. We did not have the history of Chinese therefore we are not like them. We did not have the history of the Japanese, that’s why we are not like them. We do not have the history of the British, that’s why we’re not like them.

    Kung baga, we are an unfortunate product of OUR OWN history.

    My challenge is to come up with a strategy to play the UNFORTUNATE hand we were dealt by OUR history. But you have to clearly understand and ACCEPT this hand before you can forumlate such a strategy. 😉

  27. Manong Abe,

    Salamat po sa papuri. Katawa-tawa nga, na tayo mismong mga Pinoy, minamaliit ang People Power. Kasi nga naman, parang hindi dumating ang pagbabagong inaasam-asam natin, kahit 2 dekada na ang lumipas.

    Pero kung iispin mo, ibang-iba na ang Pilipinas ngayon. Nitong nakaraang linggo lang, nakahalu-bilo ko ang ilang iskolar mula sa iba’t-ibang bansa sa Asya-Pasipiko. Kagulat-gulat na karamihan sa kanila, ang inaasam-asam pa rin ay isa autokratikong pamumuno.

    Napag-isipan ko’ng mahirap ang ginawa nating mga Pilipino. Kung ano man ang mangyari sa hinaharap, dapat nating pakaingatan ang atin na’ng naitaguyod. Alam ko ang iba, matapos ang 2 dekada ng demokrasya, handa na’ng isuko ang ilang kalayaan para mag-“move on.” Ngunit dapat siguro nating tanungin ang ating sarili kung kanino at kung bakit isusuko ang mga kalayaang tinatamasa ngayon – ang kalayaang batikusin ang pamahalaan, ang kalayaang magpahayag ng saliwat na kuro-kuro, ang bukas na balitak-takang tulad nito sa blogosphere.

  28. BenignO,

    I normally don’t blame the government (although I consider myself as an average Pinoy). However, I agree with your claim that the Filipinos have been “conditioned to think that government is to blame for our inability to prosper (as such it is the dominant line of reasoning taken by most Pinoys . . .)” EXCEPT that, that to me, the process of conditioning that has produced this “dominant line of reasoning” is not self-imposed.

    Let me explain.

    Our state of affairs today is such where the government is too weak it only plays second fiddle to a greater power – concentrated in about 60 families who dominate the Philippine political economy. These families, aside from controlling a wide range of economic activities including manufacturing, retail, infrastructure supply, petrochemicals, aviation, agri-business, constructions, telecommunications, real estate, banking and services AND owning about half of the national debt, also own the means of “conditioning” – principally the print (newspapers and magazines) and the electronic (radio and television) media and therefore are mainly responsible in the formation of our “collective character.” It has taken foreigners like Paul D. Hutchcroft and Joe Studwell to speak loud of this societal flaw, i.e., of “booty capitalism” in the Philippines and the “Asian Godfathers,” respectively. The media bias against Muslim Filipinos is another dimension of this conditioning.

    The common tao, the government, the politicians, and even the science of politics itself get the thumping all the time as convenient scapegoats for the simple reason that they don’t own and control the media that allows these handful of families the ability to frame the issues and the national agendas on their own terms to protect their image, position and interests. Hence we don’t hear and read commentaries critical of their laggardness, inefficiency and lack of competitiveness vis-à-vis their regional counterpart as frequently as we do when it comes to the “average Pinoy,” the politicians and the government. And because of the subtlety of the conditioning, even sparks who appears to share the views being expressed here has gotten used to saying in terms of kalayaang batikusin ang pamahalaan as a matter of course (no offense intended , sparks).

    The crisis of the Philippine Oligarchy, if you recall, was one of the main reasons Marcos placed the country under martial law. It’s also been the same band of oligarchs Erap disparaged as the “Makati rich” and Arroyo herself lashed out at as the “powerful, selfish interests (who) are able to exploit poverty and ignorance to maintain the status quo or impede open, progressive development.” The national scourge once prompted Ninoy to call the Philippines an “entrenched plutocracy”; whereas, FVR has cited the “unholy alliance” and “perverse symbiosis” between these “greedy rent-seeking” families and certain politicians to whom the latter are beholden, as the “mother of our problems” throughout our history. All these unfortunate plaints however are no less confirmation that even a succession of strong political leaders and presidents have been no match to the powers of the powers that be.

    The economic elites and those with whom they form this “unholy alliance” have determinedly built on their capacity to preserve the system of “perverse symbiosis” under which they protect their powers and privileges regardless of the immense privation of the rest of the society.

    BenignO, this is the “UNFORTUNATE hand” that you will have to play hardball with because to protect the system in place under which the powers that be enjoy their position, they will hang tough and ignore or reject any “strategy” for reform unless they realize, when the little drops threaten to make an ocean, that the stalemate may end up in the loss of their grip on power.

    You seem to be an assiduous hound, Benigs, but I think you are sniffing out the trail of another game.

    To be back on track, I guess the first big step is to “clearly understand and ACCEPT this hand,” using your own metaphor. The next big step is to develop the average Pinoy’s capacity to put up a countervailing force potent enough to direct the powers that be along the path of what Bencard calls “PERSONAL [as well as, I think, “public”] RESPONSIBILITY.”

    UPn asked this question before: . . . how do you inspire the “self-sacrifice” of forbearance . . . of the same group being derided, not because they can create wealth, but because of “lack of… this” or lack of that?

    My answer was:

    It could be one or a combination of any of the following motivations:

    1. Not to act is to put all that they have or built for themselves at risk.
    2. “There’s something (more than meets the eye) in it for me,” if it succeeds.
    3. Injured elite pride (or national pride, if they have “a sense of country”). “If the Thais or the Malaysians can, why can’t we?”
    4. Agape (a mission of love for others). “These 35 million poor Filipinos are also my brothers.”

    In the meanwhile, and this where I agree with you, Benigs, the “average Pinoys” must seek higher standards of public duty for themselves, probably through exchanges like this. The Malu Fernandez controversy could be a good case study for this exercise.

  29. Manong Abe,

    No offense taken. Isa lamang ang pamahalaan sa marami ko na’ng napuna sa ating lipunan.

    Reklamador ba tayo, ayon kay Manong Benign0? Haysus. Pano’ng di ka magrereklamo, ultimo pagkuha ng lisensya sa pagmamaneho inaabot ng 1 araw.

    Ang mukha ng gobyerno ay ang byurukrasya. Mula tayo ipanganak hanggang mamatay, wala tayong kawala. Kung ang kapalit ay isang byurukrasyang mananagot sa akin bilang mamamayan, hala sige reklamo!

    Mayroon yatang pakiwari si Manong Benigs na ang ekonomiks ay hiwalay sa pulitika. Na katawa-tawa, dahil dito sa Australia ngayong panahon ng halalan, ang palaging pinag-uusapan ng mga pulitiko, maliban sa tubig (dahil tagtuyot) ay Industrial Relations – ang relasyon ng mga kapitalista, manggagawa at pamahalaan.

  30. Abe,

    Actually I find that you and I don’t differ in our views.

    You mention that the elite…

    “[…]own the means of “conditioning” – principally the print (newspapers and magazines) and the electronic (radio and television) media and therefore are mainly responsible in the formation of our “collective character.” ”

    This is the FIRST part of the equation that could comprise the fundamental solution to Pinoy dysfunction. The SECOND part is what you said below:

    “[…]to develop the average Pinoy’s capacity to put up a countervailing force potent enough to direct the powers that be along the path of what Bencard calls “PERSONAL [as well as, I think, “public”] RESPONSIBILITY.” ”

    Regarding the first, I’ve cited this many times and is evident in my attacks on Wowowee, Tito Sotto (and his track record of contributing to the propagation of national stupidity), etc.

    A contributor of mine wrote extensively about how the Elite is the SOURCE of (and therefore largely responsible for) thought leadership in Pinoy society:

    I also wrote in my book that:

    “Philippine cinema has an immense influence over Filipino minds and is, bizarrely, the single biggest factor to consider – primarily because it may be the easiest to change. As shown in the section on Technology, a huge proportion – 61 percent – of on-line discussions in is accounted for by topics on Philippine cinema and television. It is a number that dwarfs all the rest, which is not a surprise because watching movies and television are disproportionately affordable forms of leisure activity in the Philippines”

    Note in bold that, as one of my “template” analyses asserts, the solutions are obvious. In fact i go further to say that:

    “However, the fact remains that between the Filipino masses and the captains of the entertainment industry, it is the latter – the producers, studio owners, and artists – who are in a position to be agents of change.”

    Which demonstrates that I do acknowledge that the impetus best comes from those who have control of the most resources. This why it is such a disgrace to be seeing in the Pinoy blogosphere (a hangout presumably populated largely by the Pinoy elite) content and discussion that is ONLY MARGINALLY better than talk on the mounds of the Payatas and on the bleachers of the Wowowee.

    As to the second part of the equation, my entire Solution Framework is precisley about this; i.e. equipping the currently vacuous mind of the Filipino to regard the mind games of the elite with a critical eye.

    Foremost among these is espousing use of ENGLISH to impart and articulate ideas so that Pinoys are more efficiently able to tap the wealth of advanced thinking (all articulated in English, AND the languages of societies with EXTENSIVE TRACK RECORDS of contributing to the COLLECTIVE INTELLECT OF HUMANITY). There are others beyond language but apparently, just on the question of language alone, there is already a lot of foolish nostalgia woven into the counter-arguments.

    How can we expect the masses to put up a shield against the stupidity fed to them by the elite-controlled media if they do not have the tools to evaluate ALTERNATIVE information and are instead imprisoned by a language that limits them to Tito-Vic-and-Joey humour and the “insights” provided by shows like Wowowee? 😉

  31. Benigno,

    Your site is a lot more impressive now than it was during your debate with Jojo Abinales and Pedro at PCIJ (I really hope that Jojo and Pedro will continue to have some meaningful exchanges with us at least here at mlq3’s). I like your presentation too.

    If you are also interested in what my thoughts are on the relevant issues we have covered in our debates, you may check my entry here. It is an essay I wrote last year on the 20th commemoration of EDSA 1.

    There are at least three important questions raised in the essay:

    1.On personal leadership: Who among the contending aspirants for national leadership has the singular qualification of the power of the will to break up the long-standing “unholy alliance” and “perverse symbiosis” of the wealthy and powerful without breaking the nation apart?

    2. On the challenge to the governing elites: How to summon up the will and marshal the skills to overcome oppositions and disagreements through negotiations and compromises among the workers, private business and the government with a view to working out a national consensus, in a Bayanihan pact of sort, for some grand economic arrangement better than the alternative that either leads to the domestic wealth holders exporting their financial assets (the gargantuan value of which is estimated, at least anecdotally, to approximate the national debt today) or to their own financial crisis because of debt defaults, or both.

    3. On the Filipino alternative: As the Filipino alternative to the Americans’ robber baron, the Japanese zaibatsu, the South Korean chaebol or the Taiwanese countryside industrialization model is: Whether the gateway to equitable accumulation and ultimately national development could also be accessed by way of the power of consensus of people power democracy that’s willing to learn from the best practices that work and, based on ongoing experience and rising above ideologies, eschew things that don’t, or change even established notions and practices when concrete realities and the complex necessities for change in the service of the common good require.

    Conclusion: To build a strong republic, the entrepreneurial spirit must lead the pursuit of aggressive growth-oriented strategic goals by: aspiring not only for the short-run objective of a domestic market patronizing Filipino products but for such products with fewer export components to attain the competitive edge for the export market; taking the risk to explore the nation’s great potential for sustainable alternative sources of energy to produce those products without undue reliance upon imported sources; investing enough in our human capital, through quality training and education, as part of the goods of the future; or essentially, producing the right goods the right way doing the best with what we have or potentially should have so that the national vision informed by the consensus upon such societal aspirations as decent standard of living for the greatest number, supported by high-income employments that keep our “best and brightest” home, could come into fruition. These goals and visiondemand vigorous entrepreneurship with a sense of national purpose first and foremost.

    More specifically, this would only mean that beyond some short-run government bureaucratic measures (such as new tax schemes), the wealth creators at the firm level must lead the march toward competitiveness and productivity growth, the intuition of the now famous “UP 11” that it would be “no more than whistling in the dark” notwithstanding. Therefore, rather than despair, Filipinos must take the course that remains wide open for them — build and produce to earn enough to pay debts, provide basic needs, keep an efficient bureaucracy and build even more. When government capital expenditures are at a minimum, the private sector must take up the slack in investment to boost employment and enable the citizens to pull through a sense of confidence in the future.

    Specific model for economic takeoff: I have recommended Walt W. Rostow’s model for economic takeoff in the following discussion:

    Many parts of the country still retain the basic features of the so-called traditional society. A traditional society is one whose structure has limited production functions because of its incapacity to manipulate the environment through science and technology. To break from the conditions of a traditional society that put a ceiling on its attainable output, new types of enterprising men willing to take risks in pursuit of profit or modernization must come forward. The risk-taking must happen in conjunction with the appearance of institutions for mobilizing capital like banks, the investment in transport, communications, and in raw materials in which other societies may have an economic interest, and the setting up of manufacturing enterprises using modern methods. These are the “preconditions for take-off,” the stage that the Philippines notwithstanding has already reached.

    Takeoff however may not occur if the transition is proceeding at a limited stride in an economy still primarily typified by “traditional low-productivity methods,” by dated societal institutions and values, and by parochial political institutions.

    The key to economic progress is somehow attitudinal too and this happens when economic men and political animals judge such progress to be good not only for the material comfort it brings forth for their pioneering spirit but also for national identity and dignity, the welfare of the next generation and the common good.

    Historically, the decisive ingredient during the transition is the building of an “effective centralized national state” imbued with a “new nationalism” versus regional interests, the colonial power (if any), or both. When growth becomes steady and normal and institutionalized into habits and social structure and dominates the society, takeoff is said to occur.

    Takeoff is spurred not only by the investment in “social overhead capital” (such as in railways, ports, roads and education) and the expansion of technological development in industry and agriculture, but also by the rise to political power of a group dedicated to the proposition that the modernization of the economy is a national goal of paramount order. Guided by the wisdom and knowledge of this group who trust each other, takeoff happens (parsing or interpreting Rostow) when:

    1) Heavy investment in “social overhead capital” takes place;
    2) The rate of investment and savings rises to about 10% of the national income;
    3) Imports of capital goods form a high proportion of total investment;
    4) There is rapid expansion in new industries, generating profits a sizeable proportion of which are reinvested in new plants;
    5) The new industries, in turn, spur (through their rapidly expanding requirement for workers, support personnel, and for other value-added goods and services) a further expansion in urban areas and in other modern industrial plants;
    6) Expansion in the advance sector yields returns in the hands of those not content with rent-seeking but who place their savings at the disposal of those engaged in modern sector activities;
    7) The new breed of entrepreneurs emerges and expands; and it places and directs the increasing flows of investment in the private sector;
    8) The economy exploits untapped natural resources and discovers new methods of production;
    9) Agriculture is commercialized, and more farmers are educated to accept and apply the new methods and the transformative changes brought forth;
    10) The economic, social and political structures of the society are transformed to allow for a steady and sustainable growth.

  32. While my reply to Benigs is awaiting moderation, let me post something on the comment below by sparks.

    Mayroon yatang pakiwari si Manong Benigs na ang ekonomiks ay hiwalay sa pulitika. – sparks

    It may be pakiwari (perception) as to Benigs, but to Ate Glo it looks more like pag-kukunwari (deception).

    Consider these sound bytes by courtesy of SONA 2005 and my response:

    GMA: Here’s the divide: One is Philippines whose economy, after long years of cumulative national endeavor, is now poised for take off. The other is the Philippines whose political system, after equally long years of degeneration, has become a hindrance to progress.

    ABE: Where there should be talk about dealing with the broader issue of “political economy” (whose two-fold objectives I suppose are: to provide subsistence for the people and produce revenue for the state), there’s hairsplitting for some deceitful, albeit dramatic, effects.

    . . . As usual the politicos are made the whipping boys and girls again (although many of them deserve the whip), but she, being a “US-schooled economist” and certainly a politica herself, now “kinder, gentler,” gets credit for half of her supposed being.

    Meanwhile, in GMA’s blaming environment . . . whereas the political system is getting the heavy axe, escaping unscathed is the longstanding incompetence and/or laggardness of the economic elites who seem simply content with driving productive and available Pinoy human capital overseas; and as “paper” entrepreneurs, are the most to gain through their banks from the money remitted by heroic OFWs who risk being raped, held hostage, or murdered in the dessert to earn a living (Aren’t Pinoys really toughies? Think now of our supposed “damaged culture” or “indolence”).

    No wonder these “rent-seeking” elites (meaning they rather rent their wealth by buying government treasuries at guaranteed interests or otherwise tending their “paper” industries) and taipans are not risking enough to build factories that create the all-too important value-added. They also play-all-too-safe by just building malls, investing in real estates and similar ventures, while the media they control (and that gives us bloggers a good reason for being) frets about declining foreign direct investments, not domestic direct investments, or plays blind about the gargantuan money safely salted away abroad.

    GMA: I specially refer to our recent titanic struggle to enact the three laws that comprised the biggest fiscal package in our history, the biggest revenue increase in a generation that will break the vicious cycle of financing development by borrowing and having to borrow again just to service those loans. This is the one reform that will snap the chain that has bound our future to a profligate past and the debt-burdened present.

    ABE: Titanic? When GMA (or the next leadership) starts dangling the debt-moratorium card in the face of the country’s creditors, or telling the domestic rentier regime to take up the slack in government spending and build this and that industry or else (bad “tips” for the messiahs in the barracks?), that’s when the “struggle” can be called titanic or fundamental or radical. But right now, it’s business as usual, meaning after debt service, still no monies would be left to serve the objectives of the political economy such as to pump prime and stimulate the economy in the Keynesian fashion when needed, or for human capital enhancement (not to speak of the minimum requirements for education, healthcare, welfare and similar initiatives) so that when the next batch of OFWs are dispatched (those “average Pinoys”), they get the better-paying jobs and remit home more.

    That was 2005.

  33. Abe,

    Thanks I did a bit of cosmetic “re-engineering” on it to make it more intuitive. That “debate” with Abinales was a classic for me (a guy with lots of jargon at his disposal but ultimately possessing no substance), but I don’t recall any extensive debate with anyone named “Pedro” on the PCIJ though…

    I had a bit of trouble opening your blog at work. But presumably the three points you wrote in your MLQ3 comment captures the essence of your essay (which i will check out from home later).

    I am inclined to make a sweeping summary of the ten conditions you outlined based on your interpretation of Rostow in a two-word phrase:


    The disposal of OFW remittances exemplifies the current dysfunction and unsustainability of the way Pinoys manage these windfalls (and it mirrors the way we employed our natural resources in the past — our forests, our agriculture, our minerals, etc.). Rather than invest the billions worth of forex remitted by OFW’s in fixed capital goods, we are squandering them on karaokes, celphone trinkets, cheap Chinese-made RTW’s, Starbucks lattes, and — you guessed it — ocho-ocho CDs and DVDs.

    First it was abundant timber, then it was abundant rice, now it is abundant labour we are exporting RAW — spending the principal/capital instead of employing said principal/capital to generate sustainable INCOME. Kung baga instead of living modestly off the INTEREST we use the ORIGINAL DEPOSIT itself to strut around like royalty.

    I agree that all societies have the equivalent economic elites that monopolised wealth. The difference between basket cases like the Philippines and achievers like the U.S., however is that whilst these elites thrived and enriched themselves, the wealth somehow trickled down to the masses as well and slowly — but surely — resulted in perceptible improvements in quality of life for them too.

    Why can’t that happen in the Philippines despite monoliths like San Miguel, SM, and countless other MNCs employing millions of Pinoys (not to mention millions of others employed overseas and propping up the economy to the tune of 10%)?

    It goes back to our lack of inclination to use capital properly (for enterprise RATHER THAN consumerism). 10% of the economy is propped up by OFW remittances. But beyond pathetic jeepneys (the proverbial ‘katas ng Saudi’s) we haven’t really seen any OFW-remittance-capitalised major enterprises, have we?

    Chaebols and robber-barons infested Korea and the U.S. back when they were emerging economies. But what small proportion of the phenomenal wealth (think the late Standard Oil, the Hyundais, Petronas, Microsoft) trickled to the masses was prudently SAVED and wisely USED.

    I don’t think Pinoys possess the characteristics that enabled the average turn-of-the-century American or the average Korean of the 60’s to 70’s to CREATE so much with so little at the start.

  34. sa tingin ko mas ok kung Filipino ang gagamiting medium ng mga manunulat sa pagsulat ng mga nobela…ang hirap kasi sating mga Pilipino eh gusto agad natin na mapansin at mahanay bilang isang international writer…masyado na kasing global agad ang hangarin…alam natin na kailangan ng universal appeal ang literature sa kahit anong medium…pero dapat siguro eh mabasa muna ng mga kababayan natin ang mga sinusulat natin bago ng mga banyaga…kaya nga pumatok si Bob Ong dahil nahuli niya ang kiliti ng mga mambabasa at yon ay dahil sa naiiintindihan namin ang mga gusto niyang ipahayag…
    at kung sasabihin niyo na novelty lang ang mga ganitong babasahin ay hindi kaya discrimination na ang tawag dyn?
    atleast nagkaron ng interes ang mga tao na basahin yung mga gawa niya…

    pero cympre di naman masama kung magsusulat tayo sa ingles…

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