The Philippines is one big SQUANDERED foreign investment


So we want more foreign investment, do we? Stop to think. How much of it have we already received? Look around and take stock of what exactly it is about “the Philippines” that is of any consequence to anyone that is indigenous in origin. Indeed, the Philippines is one big foreign investment.

Much if not all of the Philippines’ asset base was developed by foreigners and foreign money.

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Our country’s identity as a political unit, state religion, and much of the cultural capital applied to selling it as a tourist destination was a product of Spanish investment in its former colony. The cultural centre of Manila is not Makati, Cubao, Ortigas Centre, or the CCP Complex. No. It is the old Spanish walled city of Intramuros, and this is evident in how Intramuros scenery dominates content bandied by tourist brochures that pimp out Manila to the rest of the world. Even the name of the country — the “Republic” of the Philippines — is derived from that of a Spanish king (one who happened to had presided over one of history’s most horrific orgies of religious persecution). More than one hundred years since the “independence” we pretend we “won” in 1898, and Spain still props up the country’s cultural value proposition to the world.

America for its part presided over Philippine history’s biggest and most intensive foreign investment sprees, one that lasted over most of the first half of the 20th Century. Over that period, the “free” world’s favourite system of government was established, as was a world-class public education system, deep water ports, the country’s “summer capital,” a vast naval and military air base, a long-distance train line, and a new national language that was well on its way to becoming the lingua franca of science and technology. Manila had a plan that stretched all the way out to the mosquito-infested swamps that were still to become “Metro Manila.” The city also had a really nice electric car system for public transport. It was, at the time, the jewel of the Pacific.

What America left the Philippines in 1946 is, collectively, the mother of all foreign investments.

Manila was, of course, bombed to smithereens during “Liberation.” But so was much of the industrial heartlands of Japan and Germany. Let’s not even go into much detail over what South Korea had to work with as recently as the 1950s. Or Vietnam, for that matter in the 1970s. Indeed, despite Manila flattened beyond recognition in 1945, the Philippines still reigned as the pin-up girl (often literally) of Western-style prosperity over much of the 1950s. For a while, it looked like Filipinos were running gracefully for the goal carrying in their arms the result of a brilliant forward pass. And then the renowned Filipino Condition set in. And the rest is history — Philippine history over the last 60 years, that is.

Four hundred years of Spanish cultural capital infusion and fifty years of American infrastructure development — we received a whopping five hundred years in all of broad and deep foreign investment, if we count the foreign aid, preferential trade, and military protection extended to us over the most recent period of “independence” we imagine ourselves to have enjoyed.

Where are the results?

It is a question that Filipinos struggle to answer to this day.

And yet, now, we want more foreign investment.

What do we plan to do with any more foreign investment that we feel we are entitled to on top of what we have already received and squandered? Do we have any semblance of a plan around how we might run with any new capital tossed our way? Have we so far proven to be a society that is fertile ground for long-term returns?

As the ABS “Cojuangco Broadcasting Network” CBN say:

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

17 Replies to “The Philippines is one big SQUANDERED foreign investment”

  1. For me the question with FDI is this: Would you be more careful with your money or with someone else’s?

    It would actually be counter intuitive to say that FDI, with its foreign management, would make people become more careful with the money they earn from such an investment. What would actually happen would be that Filipinos will try to make the most money out of that foreign investment in any way they can — ethically and unethically. What happens with the money that is earned? Those few who know how to earn, save, plan for the future, and invest (those who already have the culture that makes people rich), will become richer. Those many who earn and basically squander their earnings will eventually return to being poor once the foreign investment shuts down for any reason.

    1. In other words, all roads lead back to that quintessential Filipino issue that is most fundamental to its continued impoverishment: CULTURE. Those who have the cultural predisposition to take the long view will prosper and those stuck with an inherent short view of the world will languish in pwede-na-yan oblivion.

  2. The OFW program drained the country’s technical people; needed to develop the country. Most of our best people are now working overseas…Countries will never invest in a country with no sufficient technical know-how, to run their factories. China and Vietnam have these kinds of people; some of these people were educated abroad, but came back to their countries…Our Job generating program is OFW…mostly service oriented…like: katulong, yaya, hardinero, kusinero, hostesses, etc…some even became Drug Mules, to make more money…

  3. There is a lot of truth in this article. We also need to consider that it is about government investment, not private. I am not denying that government investment has done a lot of good, but this kind of investment is only one part of what is needed. Government investment has given us most of the infrastructure we need (roads, ports, and others). I really think what we need now is foreign direct investment (FDI). This is private investment, and its growth is hindered by constitutional restrictions, the peace and order condition, and corruption. A requirement to even start working on this three is to amend our constitution. About the only part I like in our 1987 constitution is the Bill of Rights. The rest should be amended.

  4. damn right..the Philippines sure is growing–only backwards..there’s more to say, but accounting them one by one will take eternity..why am i negative about the Philippines? I myself lost my identity..after mingling with foreign nationalities and living in a foreign land..there are a lot I hated about the Philippines..I sometimes felt ashamed I am a Filipino and is sorry for being one..there’s much negativity that I succumb to it..

    1. which one should go first, economic prosperity before we can truly love our country? our we should love our country first, before we can achieve economic prosperity? you alienate yourself to the causes of the ills of this country, but I hope you realize that people like you who don’t care to be part of the solution are the real ones who contribute to our present demise

      1. Both. If you love your country, it would show in the improvements. If you work for improvements, you love your country. It’s east to say you love your country, but then go and neglect it. Criticism – awareness of the problem – is the first step in finding the solution. If you perceive us to “alienate” ourselves from being part of a “solution”, it only means that your so-called “solution” is the ineffective one.

      2. @earnitfirst

        How can someone who can accept that there is still so much work to be done in the country be “not part of the solution”? Like everything, there is always room for improvement in the way Filipinos think and in the way they do things.

        It seems you only consider those who say positive things about the country as “patriotic”. Well, the glass is not half-full if it isn’t half-empty.

        You won’t find any acts of love from people who have wretched existence. They won’t care about throwing their trash in the rivers or streets since they only care about where to get their next meal. So the answer to your question is yes, love of country will come naturally to those who have achieved economic stability. It will come naturally because they will have more time and resources to care for the environment.

        1. Hi Ilda,

          Love reading your articles and the comments they elicited.

          “You won’t find any acts of love from people who have wretched existence. They won’t care about throwing their trash in the rivers or streets since they only care about where to get their next meal. So the answer to your question is yes, love of country will come naturally to those who have achieved economic stability.”

          I couldn’t agree more with the above statement you made. I just read a story about foreigner who donated millions of dollars to help the poor in Tarlac (without asking for anything)…and what did he get in return? It seem that he was forced from the Philippines together with his family because:

          “Mr. President, our children who are real victims of corruption in the Philippines desperately need your intervention now. For over two years now our daughter and most recently our newborn son have been subjected to a life separated from family and access to basic necessities because they are collateral damage in an extortion scheme launched against us in Tarlac.

          This pay up or get locked up scheme has prevented us thus far from returning to our home in the Philippines for over two years now. Our children have been forced to go from country to country with us because my wife Chona cannot get a visa to the U.S. having been included in the fabricated case.”

          More details on his blog and youtube

          If all these are true…Philippines will continue to have difficulty attracting the right king of FDI. Seems like its a crime to be honest in the Philippines.

        2. Goes to show it is not worth dealing with a bunch of losers. I hope they get vindicated soon. Thanks for the link.

        1. Hi!

          Sorry for asking…please define “Prosperous people”.

          Seems to me that the more prosperous you are…the more “danger” you place yourself in.

          I am clueless hence the stupid question.

  5. My father told me why despite Manila is the most destroyed city during WW2. The city was not rebuilt immediately after. Instead,The Americans decided to rebuild Japan instead. That goes to show. The Pinoys back then had no credibility and therefore goes to show up to now as a nation. The people after 60 plus years still behave like baboons. The nation cannot function because of its clannish and primitive mentality. Kawawa Kong bayan, Binastos NG sambayan tao at politiko.

    1. captjoe25, America spent more time tutoring the Japanese about the American “way of life” and they still do until today (while Japan has already overtaken “the tutor” in a lot more areas than one)…while there was no need to tutor the pinoy about the ways of Uncle Sam, we tutored ourselves since the turn of the century…so that American, there was absolutely no need to translate the labels of American products when it flooded the pinoy marketplace after the war…we simply swallowed everything they brought in (until today, from the moment we wake up in the morning, getting dressed for school or work, then unwinding in early evenings) we even converted the USArmy Jeep into our national transport vehicle with large psychedelic markings saying “proudly Philippine-made”…

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