The futility of begging for foreign investment when your country sucks

Recent events have, yet again, highlighted the embarrassing way with which Filipinos and the government they elected to lead them are desperately scrambling to extricate themselves from systemic poverty after decades of misguided “development” approaches and serial promise breaking.

Like many many previous presidents before him, Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III went on a Western European junket begging bowl in hand to drum up interest in the Philippines. His timing was quite unfortunate. Just a day or two into this effort, Typhoon Mario swooped in and turned Manila again into the swamp land it originally was. And as if that weren’t enough, a video produced by business process outsourcing (BPO) firm Aegis Global that, point after confronting point, described why Malaysia is better than the Philippines went viral.

Like Malaysia, Vietnam is also using cut-throat methods to woo foreign cash to its shores.
Like Malaysia, Vietnam is also using cut-throat methods to woo foreign cash to its shores.
Put quite simply, the Philippines needs to clean its toilet before inviting guests in for a party. Perhaps, to be fair, it is, indeed, “more fun in the Philippines”. But like any fun party, you need to have industrial-strength toilets available and working to ensure your guests have somewhere to pass the chow and booze their bodies had processed through the night.

The floods that hit Metro Manila and its outlying municipalities have leptospirosis written all over it — a nasty bug that inhabits stagnant flood waters. It is often transmitted by animal urine or water containing animal urine coming into contact with breaks in the skin, the eyes, mouth, nose or vagina. In the developing world the disease most commonly occurs in farmers and poor people who live in cities. Not fun — despite all those photos of “resilient” Filipinos dealing with it in their own little ways.

The Philippines’ chronic problems cannot be solved by trumpeting Filipinos’ imagined “resilience”, continuously latching on to the tired old Bayanihan narrative, nor by going on an epic tantrum crying over the “unfairness” of Aegis’s reality videos. Certainly the tradition of upholding our world-renowned pwede na yan mentality will do nothing to get us closer to doing a repeat of Singapore’s triumphant Third World to First World metamorphosis.

Even now as this piece goes to press, Filipinos are engaged in a quaint “debate” over the wisdom of voting Vice President Jejomar Binay president in 2016, on account of allegations of corruption that have magically emerged in recent months. Funny that considering he was elected Vice President in 2010. One can’t help but wonder why, back in 2010, such allegations did not come out. Why now?

Like all of the Philippines’ laughable political convulsions, that will remain a mystery even to future generations of the nation’s foremost political “experts”.

Combine an abject scarcity of good politicians with an electorate that fails to apply an intelligent mind to the important process of choosing them, and you get a country like the Philippines. You don’t really need a strategic vision and a statesman’s skills to become president of this country. You just need a lot of money and tens of millions of needy suckers.

As the common wisdom goes, a good salesman can sell a P100,000 iPhone to a Filipino. So perhaps it is time for a bit of brainstemstorming (we at GRP, to be fair, get criticised a lot for not encouraging more of this sort of thing)…

With these realities hanging over your head, how would you, the predatory salesman, sell the Philippines?


How would we encourage investors, both foreign and domestic, to give the Philippines a serious second look given the reality of…

– its decrepit communications, transport, security, fiscal, and regulatory infrastructure;

– its whimsical form of “democracy” where projects can be arbitrarily initiated — and cancelled — on the basis of the latest feudal vendetta; and,

– its strategic location along the Pacific Ring of Fire and along the flight path of the planet’s most awesome storms.

Time to junk old sloppy traditional thinking habits and do a bit of world-class thinking, folks. The future awaits!

[NB: Parts of this article were lifted from the article “Leptospirosis” in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site. Preview photo courtesy CNN.]


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23 Comments on "The futility of begging for foreign investment when your country sucks"

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Jim DiGriz

I get asked a lot and people try to pick my brain about doing business here all the time. I always tell them “don’t”. It’s as simple as that. Go somewhere else, this isn’t the place for you. As a foreigner not knowing the country and doing business here is like walking into the jungle naked. You are asking how to do it? Benign0, I don’t even know where to start and I don’t have the time to work over all the mistakes of the last 30 years. This place is just utterly hopeless.


Noynoy should go to each and every foreign bigwig and use this money back guaranteed sales pitch: ” The Philippines is best suited for all your commerce needs. The climate has never been more suitable. We are ready. That’s why the locals elected me.”


Less ‘how to encourage’ and more ‘how to fool investors’ into bringing their business here rather than more promising destinations where you know they’d be better off.

I’m not sure how successful the ‘more fun’ tourism campaign has been for attracting holidaymakers from other Asian destinations. Its main ‘success’ seems to have been in providing a slogan for proud Pinoys who can’t recognise marketing fluff when they see it.

Kevin C
This has gone viral and I can’t believe how crazy people have gotten over this. They actually think that what they said is so over the top that the business should go out of business because of it. The Philippines keeps trying to get more and more foreign business but there is a problem here. First off, the Philippines owns absolutely NO part of these businesses. These businesses have no obligation to do business in any country, especially the Philippines. Foreign business cannot own any buildings or any business at all in the Philippines because of the filipino majority ownership… Read more »

The president forgot there’s a power crisis looming. He should fix that issue first, among many others.

Dick S. O'Rosary
Hey, I like this new brainstemstorming GRP. So let me give it a go: Selling the Philippines in spite of: 1. its decrepit communications, transport, security, fiscal, and regulatory infrastructure Reply: Its character-building just to work here. 2. its whimsical form of “democracy” where projects can be arbitrarily initiated — and cancelled — on the basis of the latest feudal vendetta; Reply: Whimsical, schwimsical, we’re being ruled by a dictator, the way around arbitrary cancellation is to get on the good side of the bureaucrats and politicians (i.e. grease money). If you manage that, I assure you that you will… Read more »
BS Aquino is just mimicking Gloria Aquino regarding travels abroad. They’re all busy bodies. Just trying to look busy. They declare several millions of pesos in each travel. How much of these are being diverted into their personal pockets? Perhaps this is another diversionary technique to divert some considerable amount of government funds. It is evident that every time a politician in office does something, it means some government funds are disappearing. This is a very obvious evidence how shameless the political leaders government officials and some employees are. What nerve do they have to persuade foreign investors into this… Read more »
The attracking of FDI approach is not good at all. We will never have a strong economy if we rely too much on FDI. We need to develop our economy that is anchored on sustainability. We have the natural resources. And, we have too many people, but lacking with right attitude and skills. Our country has a rich natural resouces and raw materials. Sadly, the Filipinos mindset is still limited and unimaginative. sThe government should invest in education and training. Hire the best instructors. Study foreign technology. Invest in science, product development, scout young best minds, encourage new ideas and… Read more »
Hyden Toro789

You can invite foreign investors to come to the Philippines, but they will never come…It is too much of a risk to invest in our country…Prevalent corruption; Feudal Oligarchs controlling the political and economic conditions. Peace and order…you cannot distinguish between Police and Criminals. Insurgency and political warlords.

Anyway, the country’s OFW are already working in those foreign countries, with low-low pay (underpaid , abused, overworked)…the brains in our country have already migrated to foreign countries; where they are very much welcomed…

Unless, we put our country in order…no foreign investor is buying our investment schemes…

Within the BPO sector, selling the Philippines to Fortune 500 companies requires a high degree of professional honesty coupled with concrete risk assessment and business-readiness solutions for critical scenarios like infrastructure downtime, security breaches, natural calamities, etc. Most Fortune 200 companies won’t outsource unless you’ve undergone due diligence measures and audits on PCI-DDS, alignment to Sarbanes Oxley 404, and even Dodd Frank. More importantly, Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Plans boost client-investor confidence. That is why JP Morgan Chase, American Express, Wells Fargo, First Data, Western Union, Thomson Reuters — all have their global shared services hubs in the Philippines.… Read more »

I would also like to add that we have too many holidays. That means more days without work. We should reduce holidays.


Benigno… I just want to know if you are a real Filipino or not…



It is passing you by at 220KPH !!


Every country has hotties, they are no big deal.


LOOK, the Philippines got lucky and happens to be an English speaking country. However in many places I’vve been to, the people who call the Call-centers are sick of deling with the Filipino’s who, while being well-spoken and courteous, are unable to make any decisions and do not know the answer’s to most questions posed to them. Thereby leading to many, like myself, to demand to be connected to an ‘HOME’ country operator. Whenever I dial a 800#, it does not go into India, The Philippines or any other foreign country due to what was just mentioned. To make matters… Read more »

NYT bestsellers list

No.1 One million and one things to do with your money before you lose your mind and invest in the Philippines.

big kahuna
I don’t see anything wrong with the Ad. Its the same as McDonald’s comparing themselves with other fast food chain. Highlighting how theirs, in terms of ingredients and management is better than the others. Its unfortunate that Aegis capitulated and issued an apology, if only to end the whining. The same could be said for professionals in the Philippines who emigrate to other countries because that country has been known to welcome foreign workers. Or why major corporations in the US has moved their operations to china. It’s about cost effectiveness. Anyone with common sense knows that. Aegis is promoting… Read more »