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Indigenous capital creation
13 Oct 2005



[commented on the PCIJ blog]

The Philippines can hardly be considered to be a country that ‘just woke up’. It is a 200-year old society and a 60-year old nation. Singapore went from 3rd to 1st world in far less time. Why couldn’t we? Yes, Singapore used to be in our position. The difference is that they BUILT whilst we, on the other hand, SQUANDERED.

You don’t have to view the idea of “indigenous capital creation” from your grandiose macro-economic perspective. You only have to see our dysfunction in light of this using a simple example — the Jeepney. How come a 60-year-old technology like the jeepney has not progressed from its PWEDE NA YAN beginning back in the mid-40’s? For 60 years, the technology remained stagnant (and its value as a piece of intellectual capital has remained stunted). Meanwhile, what were once little mom-and-pop bicycle and electrical appliance makers in Korea and Taiwan are now world-class manufacturers of transport equipment, machinery, and precision hi-tech devices. More importantly, these same businesses now own among the highest-equity brands and trademarks in the world today.

Compare that to the Jeepney — once trumpeted (read: BRANDED) as a symbol of “Filipino ingenuity”. Today it is a poignant relic of the past and a symbol of the backwardness and mediocrity of the Philippines).

No confusion between investment and aid, dude, from the perspective of a bankrupt society like the Philippins. Foreign investment and aid are no different to a beggar. Just like money to spend on rehab is no different from dole-out money in the eyes of a drug addict (if he had it his way, he’d spend money regardless of its source on drugs).

They are only different if the host/receiving society is an astute and sophisticated seller and provider of its resources and manpower. Unfortunately the Philippines is neither (it is a BEGGAR). It has prostituted the wellbeing of its workers, taxation regime, and environment on the altar of “foreign investment”. Its tax-free zones and industrial parks host nothing more than LABOUR-added-value ASSEMBLY operations. Assembly is no problem with a emerging economies like Vietnam and Bangladesh. But we are supposed to be in the league of Malaysia and Singapore now where productivity and added value in their respective economies go beyond the sweat and muscle.

Shall I, in the words of this Jojie, dude “posit” something “less grand”. Any schmoe can do that. Here’s an example of a “less grand” solution: EDSA REVOLUTION.

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