Foreign capital will not solve Filipinos’ inability to apply capital profitably

In my 2006 book Get Real Philippines Book 1, one of the key solutions I cited to the challenge of effecting fundamental change in the path we have (rather consciously) set for ourselves to chronic impoverishment is to re-evaluate the content of our mass media. I highlighted that it is an easy solution, because much of mass media is within full control of so few.

At the time, my main focus was Philippine cinema, but I may as well have been describing the critical social responsibility of all of Philippine mainstream media in the following excerpt…

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 PinoyExchange.com 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 (you don’t hear of too many Filipino families going off on scuba diving trips over the weekend despite an abundance of scuba diving sites around the islands).

At the time too, my focus was on the particular brand of dysfunction Filipinos are renowned for — an obssession with the bread, circuses, and Heroes described by philosopher John Ralston Saul, in his book On Equilibrium that results in a society where the low product of the vast majority is subsidised by the exceptional output of a tiny minority elite. This is a concept I describe in greater detail in one of my classics where I cite how…

We Filipinos have been imbued with the idea that our hopes for prosperity lie squarely on the shoulders of the elite, the “haves”, a handful of leaders and/or a few “extraordinary” individuals. Our society has come to (or, more appropriately never matured beyond) a penchant for giving heroic labels to these “messiahs”, as if the Philippines is constantly waiting for a hero to rescue her from her dysfunction. We expect heroic efforts from the few and continued mediocrity from the majority.

So ingrained in the underbelly of the Filipino psyche is this untenable pathetic dependence on the resource rich among them for their future fortunes. The idea of one-way flow of “universal prosperity” from the “rich” to the “poor” as being some sort of natural physical law persistently infects the Filipino mind despite the obvious fact of the wealth controlled by this minority — made up presumably of what we derisively call “oligarchs” — failing to “trickle down” into the gaping mouths of the Filipino masses for the most part of Philippine history.

Having seen that their own local captains of industry have failed to show any inclination to distribute their hard-earned wealth to the masses, Filipinos now extend this bizarre notion of a natural flow of capital from rich to poor to foreign sources of capital. As such, we now see the source of our economic salvation in “foreign direct investment.”

The fundamental flaw in that thinking lies in its resting upon one big assumption: that;

foreign capital will succeed where domestic capital had failed in giving the average Filipino schmoe a bigger piece of the Philippine economic pie.

But capital is capital. Whether it is foreign-originated or domestic-originated it will behave the same way in most markets — it will allocate itself to where the returns are highest. So compare that more sensible description of the behaviour of capital with the silly unfounded assumption that it necessarily flows to where it is absent.

So the better question to ask is this:

Are Filipinos a viable investment?

Perhaps we are. As consumers mainly.

Our esteemed local industrialists it seems have recognised this simple fact about our nature as a business opportunity. We are no more than a consumer market. We simply spend our money and spend our days finding ever more creative ways to convince ourselves how much we deserve to spend our money. If local investors see the Philippine market in that light, what makes us think foreign investors will see it any differently?

In that kind of a market, what sorts of industries are we likely to attract under a hypothetical regime of unfettered access to foreign capital? Most likely this: industries that will further grease the pipeline that channels cheap manufactured goods from highly-capitalised economies to the living rooms of increasingly impoverished Filipinos. Filipinos, in turn, will increasingly fund these purchases with the same old labour-intensive solutions — working overseas and working for the factories and retail outlets that manufacture and sell them these trinkets.

Picture then this likely microcosm of what foriegn capital could do to a society that lacks a track record of competitive domestic commercial enterprise nor an aptitude for indigenous capital creation:

Foreign capital will build more factories — and call centres — that will employ more Filipinos who will then become an even bigger market for the celphones that will be offered more cheaply by the 100-percent foreign-owned telephone companies that will set up shop and the gourmet coffee sold in shops opened by even more 100-percent foreign-owned branded food-and-beverage companies that will also set up shop.

Perhaps just a small microcosm, but it does not take much to imagine how this may reflect what could happen at a macro level.

More employment generated, but also more opportunity and incentive to spend

Henry Sy built all of these mega shopping malls that created employment for vast armies of straight-black-haired 20-something salesladies. He also created a surplus of amusement centres for Filipinos to wile away their time and part ways with the hard-earned cash remitted to them by their overseas relatives. It’ll be the same sort of investment coming from foreign industrialists. They will simply set up the equivalent of Henry Sy’s “employment-generating” operations that will then sell the products of these operations back to employees “benefiting” from this generated employment.

Retained earnings of these foreign or domestic investment funded operations mostly end up in their investors’ pockets. And why not? They earned it. To expect some of it to be “shared” with the hired help on top of the wages they are paid is an overstepping of one’s contract with these investors.

So back to the role of Media.

Currently, the communications industry is actively participating in the “irretrievable mutilation” of the planet by aggressively promoting a lethal addiction — obsessive consumerism. [boldface added for emphasis]

That is according to media activist Duane Elgin in his article The Last Taboo on Television. Though Elgin’s article is more an appeal to curbing excessive consumption for the sake of the environment, his message is also relevant in the Philippine setting with regard to Filipinos’ prospects of breaking out of the poverty trap.

The Philippines has among the lowest savings rates in the region. A comparison with Thailand highlighted in a previous article illustrates how the Philippines now trails what was once considered its closest peer in the region in most measures of development. I also wrote some time ago in Being cluey about foreign capital how…

Increased consumption as a result of more options, more competition and therefore reduced costs provide short-term job creation and cost-of-living mitigation. But in looking out for the longer-term sustainability of economic growth, measures need to be seriously considered to ensure that a good chunk of the aggregate freed-up cash resulting from consumers benefiting from lower prices (and gaining more employment) gets re-channeled into investment (or back into the financial system) rather than get pissed away on non-added-value consumption (e.g. celphone trinkets, beer, mistresses and motels, borloloy on onher-type jeeps, etc.)

In short there needs to be either or both (1) an increase in savings rate and (2) increased predisposition to invest. In either case, free cash is conserved (capitalised) instead of pissed away (expensed).

At the time I wrote the above I hadn’t thought of what I now believe should be a third aspect in any broad initiative to sustain economic growth: reduction in our propensity to consume.

And this is where the Media has the potential of playing a key role in contributing to extricating the Filipino from the mire of such loser habits. This is not only a challenge that faces the Philippines (from the perspective of sustaining growth) but also the United States (from the perspective of protecting its environment) as Elgin writes…

The unrelenting consumerist bias of television distorts our view of reality and social priorities, leaving us entertainment rich and knowledge poor. Television may be our window onto the world, but the view it provides is cramped and narrow. [boldface added for emphasis]

Yet in the hands of mass communicators lies the key…

Nearly all of the world’s problems are, at their core, communication problems. Therefore, the future of the world will depend largely on the quality and depth of human communication. I agree with Lester Brown, author of the respected State of the World book series, who said that to respond to the global ecological crisis [or in the case of the Philippines, Filipinos’ addiction to useless mostly imported consumer non-durables], “The communications industry is the only instrument that has the capacity to educate on a scale that is needed and in the time available.” At the heart of the communications industry is television. In the U.S. 98% of all homes have a TV set and the average person watches approximately four hours per day.

Perhaps the Philippines will never be the fountainheads of capital that excellent economic miracles like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and China had become. After all, in the same way that not all people are destined to be rich business owners, not all countries are destined to be on the right side of the capital creation equation. And as such, not all countries that have access to capital (domestic or foreign) will necessarily grow its capital base and transition from an economy dependent on labour deployment for income to one that depends more on capital deployment for income.

But at the very least, perhaps we as a society can learn to put whatever capital and income that we acquire to better and more productive use. Media through the quality of the content it pumps into Filipinos’ household can help us achieve that.

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41 Comments on “Foreign capital will not solve Filipinos’ inability to apply capital profitably”

  1. That’s why I’m in favor of creating a high-quality public channel before we open up our media to FDI. After all, the media people do their market research and put out shows accordingly. A foreign network could probably reap more profits by putting out more of what they see Filipinos love than by introducing programs that deliver more positive message.

    Come to think about it, that’s exactly what Salim Group is doing through MVP’s ABC-5.

  2. FDI still needs to come, but true, Pinoys have to wise up in handling money. So lately, I’ve decided to stop buying so many military and Gundam models. Damn, my stock’s too full, hehe.

    On media… I think we can choose more responsible and reputable companies to enter the field and improve media quality. I’m sure CNN and BBC or even Al Jazeera wouldn’t like gyrating girls on screen. Or rather, Viacom, Sony Entertainment and Disney, et al. They’ll put that kind of stuff on pay channels.

  3. @Chino/Frank: Indeed, there is a need for government to step into areas that are not necessarily attractive for private enterprise to invest in — like educational television. We cannot delegate the responsibility of educating the population to private enterprise. And the way it is looking, most Filipinos are educated (or rather negative-educated) by ABS CBN and GMA.

    The trouble with unregulated private enterprise is that it tends to create runaway positive feedback loops — the sorts of things that create bubbles fueled by “irrational exuberance” (such as what happened in the dot-com bust and the 2008 GFC).

    A specific example is how CEOs of publicly-listed corporations in the last several decades were increasingly paid in company stock and/or incentivised on the basis of “shareholder value” (a euphemism for share price performance). That created an instant gratification management culture and an unhealthy obssession with short-term profitability and propping up of market perception rather than on long-term creation of robust business operations and management structures.

    Recently, regulators have started to direct their attention to that issue

    Equity payments may also encourage managers to take risks, increase the volatility of returns, extract potential windfall benefits from timed sales, and manipulate stock prices. And it may do all of these things while diluting the stake of other shareholders, diminishing accountability to them, and distracting managers from the real business of managing the business.

    And, indeed, research has now revealed the CEO equity compensation fad turned out to be counter-productive to the interests of some companies (in this case, banks)…

    This research suggests that the banks with CEOs who had smaller equity ownership stakes performed better — and that perhaps equity ownership exacerbates rather than relieves problems with excessive risk taking by CEOs. Certainly, if a CEO has their eye on the stock price because they are paid in stock, that CEO has an incentive to soften bad news to shareholders and dampen full negative disclosures.

    Regulators ought to pay attention to the fact that the evidence suggests that there is no positive relationship between a CEO’s performance and his or her stake in the company, especially given the risks to bank performance and the huge consequences to stakeholders.

    My point is that one can never really be too sure about the models one applies to making recommendations as there are always unknown unknowns lurking in the shadows. Thinking that one variable (or a small handful of them) determines a future outcome that is, in reality, impacted by hundreds of factors smacks of foolish hubris, just like in the above example the equity component of a CEOs pay as it turns out did not determine management performance in the way it was intended.

    In the case of the Philippines, we think we see the amount of “FDI” flowing in as an indicator of how well-off the Filipino can expect to be.

    Well, great expectations based on less-than-great assumptions seem to me to be a bad combination.

  4. The Philippines has no vital industries, that are important for industrialization…we lagged in technology…we cannot even manufacture our transportstion and defense equipment…we buy parts overseas, assemble them…we can…but to create industries that can spawn other industries, on the basic level…we cannot, our leaders cannot see this way to create jobs…so they created OFW/slaves , OFW/Drug Mules…

  5. “foreign capital will succeed where domestic capital had failed in giving the average Filipino schmoe a bigger piece of the Philippine economic pie.”

    I don’t think domestic capital failed in raising the quality of life for Filipinos. It did, but just not enough, because there aren’t enough capital going around, which is why we need to open our economy up.

    More top-line income is still always better than less. Of course that doesn’t mean we don’t mind the rest of the income/expense statment.

    I agree, though, that Filipinos spend more than the average Asian.

    1. The question therefore is: Was it because there was not enough of it, or was it because the numbers to which our population increased outpaced our inherent abilities to create capital in a self sufficient manner?

      1. Many elements to your question. Capital, population, and money management. When thinking about our massive poor populace, my opinion is that it’s more of the first two.

      2. Precisely. Many elements. So we cannot presume to build a deterministic model linking just a small handful of assumptions to a far reaching expected outcome such as that of wealth creation and distribution across a nation of 100 million.

        1. Again, the problem here, Benign0, is that you unfortunately are having difficulty in understanding the entire concept.

          If you recall back in the old PEX days before the 2010 fall-out which you initiated with your sudden “friendly-fire attacks” against articles that your own GRP colleage (me) wrote, there was an issue you grappled with which I had to painstakingly explain to you: CETERIS PARIBUS.

          You see, Benign0, CETERIS PARIBUS is an assumption used in the natural and social sciences that means that in a MULTI-VARIABLE or multi-factor environment, you are to CONTROL THE OTHER VARIABLES and simply observe one variable at work, and then look at how increasing or decreasing this variable affects the overall result.

          We know that the Philippine Economic environment is a multi-factor complex system.

          But we also know that some variables/ factors more greatly affect the results than others. Moreover, using CETERIS PARIBUS, it is clear that some factors influence the overall outcome in a certain way.

          Ceteris Paribus, the entry of FDI into a country INCREASES employment and over a longer term horizon, leads to improved living standards as the increase in the number of people with jobs means an increase in many different things: increase in economic activity, increase in tax revenue for the government (which can now be reinvested in infrastructure projects and paying gov’t employees better, etc), and even decrease in crime/ corruption as these negatives are the result of poverty and despair. More job creation reduces poverty and despair, hence, less crime.

          Those are all based on CETERIS PARIBUS assumptions.

          There is no one-to-one determinism being pushed here, Benign0.

          I think this is what you fail to understand, and perhaps better research on the sciences (both natural and social) will help you to re-learn these concepts since you are supposed to come from an Engineering background yourself.

          Don’t worry, these are not difficult concepts to grasp. I just see that you have some real difficulty in understanding how bringing in more FDI can really help to improve things for Filipinos.

          Look no further, Benign0. Australia itself – where you reside – has benefited greatly from Foreign Direct Investment and if you didn’t notice, AUSTRALIA ITSELF was the product of a HUGE Foreign Direct Investment Enterprise: The British Empire.

          Think about that, Benign0.

          Think also about how Singapore’s primary means of moving from Third World to First was hinged upon heavily attracting MNC’s and FDI to come into Singapore, so that the numerous unemployed and “soon-to-be-unemployed” Singaporeans who were to lose their jobs when the British Military Bases were scheduled to leave Singapore were all given NEW JOBS as MNC’s poured in due to Singapore’s FDI-friendly top-level policies.

          What was originally a measure to “prevent unemployed people from turning into beggars and criminals” by creating new jobs for them as MNC’s came in turned out to become Singapore’s main means of moving out of Poverty.

          If you recall, I recommended Lee Kuan Yew’s book “From Third World to First.”

          My question is: HAVE YOU READ IT, Benign0?

          To me, the answer seems like a big NO. For if you had actually read it, then you wouldn’t have written an article like the one above which reveals that you do not understand how bringing FDI in can actually help.

          Tell me, Benign0… Is this a problem of you not understanding how FDI works?

          Or is it a problem of you wanting to ridicule solution proposals that are aimed at fixing the problems of the Philippines?

          Methinks you need to do a serious re-think about what your real purpose in life is, because right now, it seems to many people that you have turned Get Real Philippines from what was originally meant to be a “Wake Filipinos Up so the Philippines can improve” site into a site where you justify your decision to leave the Philippines to emigrate over to Australia.

          It almost seems like anything that could ameliorate the Philippine situation destroys whatever justification you made regarding your move, which is what prompted you to attack my solutions-oriented articles.

          Perhaps deep down, you want the Philippines to remain a shit-hole so that you can continue justifying and re-justifying to yourself that your decision to leave the Philippines and move over to Australia was the right one.

          Don’t get me wrong, Benign0, there’s nothing wrong with you and Ilda emigrating over to Oz in order to give a better life to your kids.

          What was FOUL was when you went out of your way to ATTACK the solution-proposals that your very own comrade/ colleague (yours truly) wrote to suggest means of improving the Philippines.

          Oh, and you do need to get rid of that stinky troll Paul Farol from your team. You know very well that it was he who leaked private photos of you and Ilda over to Carlos Celdran.

          (Only someone like Farol who is connected as an FB Friend to you and Ilda can have access to either of your private photo albums and thus LEAK THEM OVER to Carlos Celdran.)

          Time for house-cleaning, Benign0… Ditch the TROLL.

        2. Tsk tsk… sounds like the same sort of thinking that went on to result in the country’s chronic addiction to overseas employment and the jeepney infestation it seems to be woefully unable to overcome today. Trouble is you underpin the above kilometric post of yours on one flawed assumption:

          That Filipinos are culturally-predisposed to build upon a foundation of opportunity.

          This is evident in your constant harping about how Singapore’s journey from Third World to First was “hinged upon heavily attracting MNC’s and FDI to come into Singapore, so that the numerous unemployed and “soon-to-be-unemployed” Singaporeans who were to lose their jobs when the British Military Bases were scheduled to leave Singapore were all given NEW JOBS as MNC’s poured in due to Singapore’s FDI-friendly top-level policies.”

          Sure. But then Singaporeans once employed sustained that development trajectory whereas Pinoys fairly enough also benefiting in the short term on the inflow of capital and themselves becoming gainfully emplployed somehow failed to sustain a similar trajectory.

          It’s called the jeepney syndrome, dude. Jeepneys were a the time of their “invention” seen to be a brilliant and effective measure to fix the lack of public transport in war-ravaged Philippines. But fast-forward to 2013 and jeepneys have turned from a symbol of Pinoy ingenuity into a permanent reminder of a collective failure to imagine better and more sustainable solutions.

          So you see, my former “colleague”, I remain brilliantly consistent to what GRP is really all about: Pinoy Cultural Dysfunction and how this simple condition — Da Pinoy Condition — remains the single biggest underlying roadblock to this greatness our compatriots imagine themselves to be entitled to. 😀

        3. Benign0:

          You continue to reveal your ignorance and your lack of knowledge and your refusal to do research and read up.

          Remember that I gave you a lot of reading materials and book recommendations before? Did you read them? I know you bought “From Third World to First.”

          But DID YOU READ IT?

          Obviously not.

          You see, Benign0, the key problem here is that you seem to want to single-out Filipinos as being naturally predisposed towards failure, NO MATTER WHAT.

          You have unfortunately been extremely misinformed because you have a profound LACK OF KNOWLEDGE about other countries and other cultures, unlike me, who has travelled extensively and has learned lots about the history and culture of so many different countries.

          One of your biggest failures is your inability to see just how countries that are extremely similar to the Philippines culturally or “situationally” were able to move up and improve by simply employing the solutions that I have been proposing.

          Take Economic Liberalization and the Irish.

          For the longest time, the IRISH were the “Filipinos of Western Europe” — particularly among the Northern Europeans.

          Same flippant happy-go-lucky culture, same traditional Catholicism, similar superstitions, same “migrant worker” culture of sending workers abroad who sent remittances back, etc.

          Whenever Britain needed cheap labor, they brought in the Irish…

          But sometime later in the history of Ireland WHICH USED TO BE EXTREMELY PROTECTIONIST and anti-FDI (partly due to the “nationalist sentiments” of many of them being afraid of colonial domination, as what happened under the English/British), later changed their policies and learned “the Singapore Way” of doing things:

          1) Getting rid of anti-FDI laws and making Ireland much more open to FDI

          2) Aggressively attracting FDI and MNC’s to come into Ireland

          3) Fixing their tax-regimen to make them much more attractive to MNC’s

          4) a lot of other things usually associated with Singapore

          * * * *

          Well… Guess what…

          The Republic of Ireland which used to be a lousy backwater from whence hundreds of thousands of immigrants to the Americas, to Australia/NZ, ad other places went to in search of economic opportunities started to become THE CELTIC TIGER.

          Jobs were created en masse as MNC’s set up large numbers of factories and offices and hired lots of hitherto unemployed Irishmen. Businesses boomed. Economic activity increased. People improved their lives.

          By 2010, when looking at the list of all English-speaking countries in the World, IRELAND WAS AT THE TOP of the GDP per capita rankings of all such countries, besting the USA, besting Canada, besting former colonial master BRITAIN.

          And really, Benign0, all they wanted to do was to simply create more jobs for their people.

          Mind you, Benign0, the Irish are TRADITIONALLY LIKE PINOYS. Spendthrift, stereotypically “lasenggero.” You name it, Dude… The Irish are practically PINOY.

          …Except they’re WHITE.

          So… I suggest you READ UP MORE ABOUT IRELAND, Dude. Read up. Research.

          * * * * *

          Oh, and here’s another one…

          INDONESIA.

          No other country comes close to being Pinoy-like in terms of racial/ethnic origin… Indonesians are “practically us” except that most of them are Muslim. (take note that there are many islands, enclaves or areas in Indonesia that are predominantly Christian or even Catholic)

          (Bet you didn’t know that ‘coz you don’t read much, Benign0.)

          So…

          Indonesia recently started doing “the Singapore thing.” Which is to open up their economy to foreign direct investments.

          Mind you, Indonesians are very much like Pinoys, more so than Irishmen are…

          Indonesians like to “make palusot.” Indonesians like to exploit loopholes. Indonesians like to “make bola.” Etc…

          And the Indonesians are hobbled by their general lack of English ability unlike most Filipinos. (Lots of educated Indonesians know English, of course, but generally, Filipinos have the English advantage while Indonesians don’t.)

          Indonesia also has a bureaucratic red tape problem and it also has the same corruption issues that the Philippines has. Probably even worse because the legal system is NOT IN ENGLISH which again is supposed to make the Philippines more accessible to MNC’s.

          But since Indonesia OPENED UP their corporate ownership rules to allow MNC’s and foreign investors to easily own the companies they set up, Indonesia has attracted MASSIVE investments and job creation has continued to be high, raising average salaries as companies compete against each other to attract applicants and job-seekers.

          It’s really simple, Benign0.

          Your posts aren’t BRILLIANT at all. Your old “pre-Friendly Fire” articles may have used to be brilliant, but the stuff you come up with these days which essentially seek to SHOOT DOWN FEASIBLE SOLUTIONS just shows that you have absolutely ZERO INTENTION of lighting a candle and replacing the faulty lightbulb, and instead, you just want to CURSE THE DARK.

          Guess what, Benign0. It’s obvious that you don’t want the Philippines to get better because solutions geared at improving the Philippines tend to diminish your justification for leaving the Philippines to emigrate over to Sydney, Australia.

          Get Real, Benign0. 😉

        4. As usual, first couple of paragraphs pa lang and you alread stumble into a wrong assumption as to whether or not I read the book or not. Tsk tsk. So much for the rest of your kilometric commentary.

      3. What expected outcome? It has been said time and again that it’s not a silver bullet or a panacea. Opening up the country to FDI needs to be done, just to get us to a trajectory towards economic improvement. It’s not going to completely solve poverty or wealth distribution.

        1. No one has pitched it as such, Benign0.

          From the onset of the original Get Real Philippines “Charter Change Information Drive” which we collectively agreed upon right after Noynoy Aquino’s inauguration as President in 2010, we never presented the Constitutional Reform initiative as being a silver bullet.

          That was NEVER the intention and it was NEVER presented that way.

          On ALL articles I wrote, I made sure to present it as a “FIRST ENABLING STEP.”

          Think about it like getting a College Degree, Benign0.

          A College Degree is NOT a guarantee of economic success for a person. But it provides a lot of training to that person and holding that credential gets the person’s foot in the door. Many companies in the Philippines, due to the oversupply of job applicants, try to trim down this deluge of applicants knocking at their door by advertising “only college graduates need apply.”

          As such, those without such a degree won’t even be allowed to knock on the door.

          That’s the same with the entire Constitutional Reform initiative which originally YOU were agreeable to, until your Pride and Envy got the better of you as you ended up thinking that your influence in the Blogosphere was getting eroded by yours truly’s snowballing Constitutional Reform advocacy.

          What is really mind-boggling, Benign0, is that it was my clamor for Constitutional Reform and my aggressive pro-solutions approach that bought a lot of credibility for Get Real Philippines which stopped many ordinary people from hurling the accusation that GRP was a “whining and bitching Hate Site.”

          But, alas, because my articles ended up having more views than yours, and because I was in the Philippines at the time and was getting a lot of invitations to speak about Constitutional Reform (which was actually giving exposure to Get Real Philippines and – at the time – our other “E-zine”, AP), you got jealous of that, so you ended up wanting to sabotage me.

          I think you have to do some serious self-reflection, Benign0.

          I defended you a lot. I sought to put you and your work in a good light. I told people that you DO NOT HATE FILIPINOS but that you merely want to wake people up.

          And I simply said that Get Real Philippines needs to talk about the problems so that we can then suggest solutions, because when a solution is proposed but people don’t see what the problem is that the solution addresses, they won’t buy it.

          But…

          Alas, your Pride, Ego, and Envy got the better of you. You felt that I was stealing your thunder (when in fact, you originally pushed me to be the spokesperson in the Philippines SINCE YOU NEVER WANTED PEOPLE TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE, remember?), and so you suddenly ATTACKED my own article.

          Foul, Benign0. Wrong move.

          Because of that wrong move and because of all these articles you’ve written to attack the Constitutional Reform initiative that we at the original Get Real Squad started (and were forced to SPIN OFF as the CoRRECTâ„¢ Movement because you were sabotaging us), the wider audience now sees you as nothing more than a self-loathing “troll blogger.”

          Honestly, Benign0, I’ve met you in person and I remember the friend I visited in February of 2004 in Sydney, and I know you are not supposed to be like that.

          Pride, Ego, and Envy destroyed you, and part of it had to do with your frequent “online hanging out” with the infamous cybertroll PAUL FAROL.

          Had you not gotten entangled with that stinky, ugly, immoral toad, you wouldn’t have turned into the monster that a huge number of people in the Blogosphere hate.

          I’m hoping that you can take a step back to do some major self-reflection and realize that you were wrong to attack me, and wrong to turn people like Carlos Celdran into your enemy.

          Seriously, Benign0… Carlos Celdran USED TO BE YOUR FAN. But when you started attacking solutions meant to solve the problems of the Philippines that GRP identified, you turned him and so many others off. Worse, you attacked one of your most LOYAL COMRADES — yours truly.

          Here’s hoping that you do your own sincere SOUL-SEARCHING, Benign0. I hope you have it in you to truly GET REAL.

        2. Tsk tsk… for someone who claims to be an “original” “member” of GRP you already fail in demonstrating a basic understanding of the single defining concept of what it means to be a “member” of GRP. You forget, GRP does not define itself by any sort of position on any issue nor does it impose any position, dogma, or doctrine on any of its “members”.

          So as to your claim that there was or is some sort of “collective agreement” amongst its members to abide by your “charter change information drive” initiative or whatever you call it, think again. You’ve become too good at re-engineering history to suit your preferred reality. That’s what happens when you surround yourself with weak-minded young fools. You cut yourself out of much needed intelligent reality checks from people who beg to differ to your ideas. 😀

        3. Grabe pala itong si Orion Dumdum maka comment. I haven’t heard of him before but it seems he’s so into himself. His comments are too long winded and puro ad hominem. Sino gaganahan talaga magbasa nyan?!?

        4. I don’t claim anything, Benign0. I was your colleague and a loyal comrade until you succumbed to Ego, Envy, and Pride and you turned against me.

          You couldn’t stand the fact that my articles got lots of views, lots of likes, lots of accolades, and that people sometimes made the mistake of thinking that I founded GRP, which of course, I always corrected them to say that YOU did.

          However, you forget the history as was, and forget that I have a WHOLE TRANSCRIPT of e-mails (which unfortunately will reveal your true identity — which it seems your getting outed by Carlos Celdran the first time is now clearly being revealed as one of your “friend” Paul Farol’s little ploys.

          The transcripts, in any case, reveal that the group collectively agreed to rally behind that initiative.

          Do you know why that was the consensus?

          That was because most of the members wanted to become more associated with something more positive and solutions-oriented, rather than simply WHINING and BITCHING.

          The reason that you belatedly changed your mind and decided to go against ANY SPECIFIC SOLUTIONS is because your brain functioning is not equipped to understand how systems work.

          Your brain was wired mostly to curse at the dark and point out what’s wrong and that’s just it…

          Unlike you, I talked about the problems of the Philippines AND the problems of Pinoy Culture BECAUSE I WANTED TO FIND SOLUTIONS TO THOSE so that things could get better.

          Most other members (who left your sorry ass to join me) felt the same way: That criticism against what’s wrong with Filipinos and the Philippines SHOULD BE DONE IN ORDER TO MAKE POSITIVE CHANGES and bring about solutions.

          You? You just wanted to bitch and whine.

          Previously, you weren’t like that. But when my articles got top spot, when I got speaking invitations left and right, YOU CHANGED the whole direction without telling me or the others, and attacked my articles.

          See, Benign0?

          Ego, Pride, Envy (and your association with mega-troll PAUL FAROL) are what got you to the DARK SIDE.

          Instead of wanting to FIX THINGS, you simply wanted to stay stuck with bitching and whining.

          No wonder your “real persona” ended up becoming rather INFAMOUS, Benign0.

          Oh, and do remember your need to do some housecleaning. I already showed you a lot of incontrovertible evidence that proves that your “friend” PAUL FAROL was indeed responsible for leaking your (yours and your wife’s) private pictures over to Carlos Celdran.

          I’m sure that you know he did it, Benign0. You’re just too damn Proud to admit to me that you agree.

          Here’s to hoping that you finally GET REAL, Benign0! 😉

        5. Well, tough luck. You were once a “colleague and a loyal comrade”, but the fact is NOW you aren’t.

          And, again, this kilometric comment which, yet again, starts off with a flawed assumption or argument, proves you do not really know what GRP is all about as being a “member” of GRP is not predicated on “loyalty”. So your assumption that I expect “loyalty” from anyone merely reflects the very reason you now sit OUTSIDE of the wonderful world of GRP “membership”.

          Seems like the only person here revealing more of his ignorance with every word he types in is you. 😀

  6. If you invest 50 pesos a day to manufacture an employable Filipino, age 26, the total paid in capital ( C) represents the number of days (Y x 365) times the daily cost (D). C = Y(365) x D. That is, C = 26 x 365 x 50, or P 456,250. Assume each of the manufactured items deployed abroad returns an average of US $500 per month (M) for 20 years (T) at a conversion rate of 42 pesos per dollar (Q). The return R can be calculated as follows: R = M x T(20) x Q, or 500 x 20 x 12 x 42, or P 5,040,000. I’d convert this to real time dollars, but my typewriter does not have enough letters. Anyhow, given a return of 1,015%, screw seeking foreign direct investment. Make babies.

    Oh, yeah . . . that’s what we are doing now. Well, then, everything is hunky dory, economically speaking. Plenty of raw materials, skilled production workers, superb ROI. All is peachy keen. No need to get your economic shorts in a bunch . . . just sit back and await the cash flow . . .

    Patience, good fellow, patience . . .

    1. Haha, Joe. I’ve seen a whole bunch of serious economic exercises here that honestly try to justify the export of live bodies in just those terms. Of course, it all falls apart when you point out that the market for those exports is not limitless.

      What benign0 is describing here is a roundabout way of explaining that the Philippines likely does not have the absorptive capacity to make FDI work efficiently. It is a simple concept; we see the same thing happen over and over again with, for example, low-brow lottery winners who manage to go broke in a year’s time.

      People who might look at this article as a criticism of efforts to attract FDI to this country — efforts that are being pursued with vigor along a number of lines — ought to honestly assess whether there is anything about the country’s record of working with what it’s already got that indicates it will be able to make the best use of FDI. I don’t think so. FDI just brings the money — it doesn’t bring the instant smarts to know what to do with it.

    2. Maybe we take it for granted that we know enough how to make the most of all the new businesses and raft of expansions that will be outcomes of more investment coming into the country. But perhaps we fail to realise that there is still the rest of population — all 90% of it — who may not. Suppliers who will continue to provide inconsistent service and sell defective and mediocre products to the new businesses and factories that spring up, regulators who will simply step up their “collection” operations, and decrepit infrastructure (and the dodgy way we tend to build these) that will choke any opportunity to absorb the increase in volume of activity and commerce these new businesses will bring.

      1. It’s not just about money coming in. The investors would like to make sure that it is utilized well, so, the management, processes and best practices coming in along with the investments will also improve the way businesses operate here.

        Instead of comparing this with lottery winning or dole-out recipients, I will compare it with microfinance recipients who are not only given money, but the means and guidance to make the most of their abilities and maximize their potential.

        1. I think we should clean the house first before we invite guest in. Otherwise, they might NOT stay for dessert. As discussed in my previous blog:

          “Peter Wallace, in his opinion piece for Manila Standard Today echoed the very same sentiments I have expressed time and time again about the padrino system that is keeping investors away:

          “The personalistic nature of the Philippines, which is so lovely, goes too far when it enters into business in this modern world. The perception by foreigners is that it’s a waste of time and money to bid for competitive projects if a well-connected Filipino is competing against you. Or you must tie up with him, which is not necessarily the corporate strategy you desire. So better to go elsewhere. And the investment figures show this is what has been happening.

          Can P-Noy change this? Yes, he can. But not by exonerating his friends when they screw up. If independent investigation finds them guilty, then they are, and simple delicadeza would lead them to resign in deference to the presidency and the people. Well, foreigners see this favored treatment in one area and worry it will spill over into theirs, so why risk it?’

          In his article, Mr Wallace was clearly baffled as to why only the Philippines is singled out considering that, on closer analysis, a few of the Asian countries share the same constraint in terms of attracting investors. India and Indonesia for example have corruption, inadequate infrastructure and group patronage (padrino system) that contribute to keeping progress at bay. But the irony is: “Over the past six years the Philippines struggled to attract $11.9 billion in foreign investment. Vietnam, a country fast overtaking the Philippines, got over double that at $29.8 billion. Indonesia was three times at $36.3 billion, and Thailand, four times at $48.2 billion.”

      2. Of course. There is a whole raft of things to consider, much of it determining what sort of investments come in — if it is fly-by-night hot operations that manufacture tennis balls or real asset-building businesses that see real long-term potential in the society. Do Filipinos come across as a society you’d invest long-term in? Or is it a society where one would be more motivated by a low-risk high-return grab-the-profits-and-run kind of mindset among investors?

        To answer those questions, Filipinos will have to look hard and deep into what they really want in and of themselves and their country.

  7. Here is what Mahathir Mohammad himself said in a speech at the Harvard Club of Malaysia dinner on 29 July 2002 about how the presence of opportunity does not necessarily guarantee that said opportunity will be seized by those it is presented to…

    When I wrote The Malay Dilemma in the late 60s, I had assumed that all the Malays lacked the opportunities to develop and become successful. They lacked opportunities for educating themselves, opportunities to earn enough to go into business, opportunities to train in the required vocation, opportunities to obtain the necessary funding, licences and premises. If these opportunities could be made available to them, then they would succeed. ……

    …. But today, the attitude has changed. Getting scholarships and places in the universities at home and abroad is considered a matter of right and is not valued any more. Indeed, those who get these educational opportunities for some unknown reason seem to dislike the very people who created these opportunities. Worse still, they don’t seem to appreciate the opportunities that they get. They become more interested in other things, politics in particular, to the detriment of their studies. In business, the vast majority regarded the opportunities given them as something to be exploited for the quickest return. …… They learn nothing about business and become even less capable at doing business and earning an income from their activities. They become mere sleeping partners and at times not even that. Having sold, they no longer have anything to do with the business. They would go to the government for more licences, permits, shares, etc. …. [boldface added for emphasis]

    Full article here.

  8. I also hope people don’t get misled in believing that just because Filipinos seem poor in handling money, then you should deny them foreign capital. Foreign capital remains a solution. Perhaps Benign0 is saying, let us apply such a solution thoughtfully and carefully.

    1. I’m saying, let the FDI roll in. There are enough Pinoys cluey enough to take full advantage of it. But we shouldn’t expect the MAJORITY to be among this cluey MINORITY.

      1. Maybe a ripple effect on the clues to the rest of majority when FDI rolls in? Maybe you should also consider the multiplier effect capital does to a community, even in a community of perceived idiots.

      2. Unfortunately, the problem with Benign0’s statement is that he does not understand how the concept of Foreign Direct Investment works, and instead thinks it’s similar to having Foreign Creditors come in and lend money to local Filipinos setting up businesses.

        That’s not what it’s all about, Benign0.

        Foreign Direct Investment, particularly the “majority-owned” model that most MNC’s wanting to enter a country are looking at, isn’t just about Foreign Capital per se… It’s also about the Foreign Company itself — yes, managed/owned by Foreigners who happen to have the requisite KNOW-HOW to run the company — bringing in technology, management systems, modern methodologies/ processes, etc.

        What Benign0 totally misses is that the whole push to open up the economy and bring in FDI into the Philippines is simply about trying to solve a fundamental problem in the Philippines: Poverty that results from MASSIVE UNEMPLOYMENT which results in turn from the dearth of investment (be it local or foreign).

        In the end, Filipinos don’t really care who own the companies they work for as long as the salaries they earn can help them pay the bills.

        Rather than being overly pessimistic and being unable to see the benefits of opening up the economy to foreign investors in order to spur in the entry of more MNC’s and more FDI, Benign0 needs to realize that countries not too different from the Philippines whose people were also known to be spendthrift and happy-go-lucky benefitted greatly from their governments’ decision to open up their economies and bring in more FDI’s. People in those countries (including Singapore, Malaysia, recently Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, etc) benefited greatly from the increase in job opportunities and their payscales rose as companies raised salaries to prevent their employees from moving to other companies and MNC’s that got set up as FDI flowed in massively.

        Think more about solutions, Benign0.

        This is why Get Real Philippines has lost its luster. You attacked your very own former colleagues (yup, yours truly, included) who were looking to suggest solutions and yet your arguments like this entire article are founded upon totally WRONG assumptions.

        Stop complaining about the dark, Benign0. Light a candle and REPLACE THE BUSTED LIGHTBULB!

        1. Nah.

          I never said foreign direct investment only covers foreigners lending money to da hapless Pinoy (cite specific examples, plez, of where you think I make such an assertion).

          Your first paragraph already contains a flawed argument so it seems the rest of your kilometric comment presumably built on this failed pillar crumbles along with it. Tough luck! 😀

        2. Dude/Benign0 — your TITLE says it all:

          “Foreign Capital will not solve Filipinos’ inability to apply capital profitably.”

          It’s called READING BETWEEN THE LINES, Benign0…

          Your article’s title essentially treats Foreign Investment as if it is capital that is being lent to Filipino entrepreneurs for them to use.

          At the end of the day, your unwillingness to seek out solutions automatically predisposes you to diss anything that suggests solutions that would get the Philippines out of its rut… Even if just a little.

          You totally miss the point about what FDI is for.

          In the end, the main point of bringing in FDI is so that FOREIGN INVESTORS can bring their money in, MANAGE THEIR MONEY, set up operations themselves, and in the process, CREATE JOBS for locally-based Filipinos.

          That’s what it’s all about.

          You missed the whole point about why the whole “bringing in FDI” initiative exists in the first place.

          Think, Dude, think! 😉

        3. Na ah. I don’t see any notion of lending money in the title. How does one make a logical leap from “apply capital” to lending money. Perhaps your “reading between the lines” fails you. Miserably.

          nyek nyek!

        4. And by the way, if I were you I’d think twice about using extraneous information in this forum that is not relevant to the topic of the articles under which you are publishing your commentary. You are free to do that elsewhere, like in one of those threads in the fan pages and profiles of certain shock activists you now latch on to like a barnacle. Do it here and I will put you in the spam queue and you will lose any further privilege of commenting here pursuant to Section 2.0 of the Terms of Service of this site.. The fact that you did (in a comment that I now deleted) shows you are not above the use of the sort of personality-centric arguments preferred by people of lesser minds.

    2. @ChinoF,

      “Foreign capital remains a solution. Perhaps Benign0 is saying, let us apply such a solution thoughtfully and carefully.”

      I agree with that line of thinking…First recognize that FDI is rare and everyone (ASEAN)is competing for it. One have to coddle, entice and seduce investors to “walk the talk”. They wont part with their hard earned money through mere “sweet talk”. Might be easy to hoodwink the public with “showbiz antics” but unless the investors starts to see concrete efforts by the Govt to provide a conducive enviroment…it’s just a dream.

      As the saying goes…”fool me once…shame on you, fool me twice…shame on me”.

    1. This is two years ago’s article, why this again.

      Also, even if we learn something new that may need us to change our previous beliefs, shouldn’t we be allowed to change it? Why stubbornly hold on to a “formerly agreed” stance?

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