It’s time Filipinos start recognizing the true builders of their country

With political airspace in the Philippines currently congested by allegations, accusations, and speculations of thievery flying back and forth between political cliques, factions, and camps, one couldn’t be blamed for losing any remaining semblance of faith in the old idealistic notion that a stint in government office grants one a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to “make a difference”. Yet this often dished-out admonition persists…

Why don’t you just run for office instead of just sitting around criticizing the government?

…implying that being “in the government” is the only way one can be of value to Philippine society.

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Pillars of Philippine society

Pillars of Philippine society

Is it only in government that one can make that “difference”? I don’t think Bill Gates or the late Steve Jobs will subscribe to that notion. Neither would Henry Sy or any of the Ayalas or Lopezes, for that matter. When one considers the number of lives touched, the number of jobs created, and the enduring value added to national economies by these and many other great industrialists, we begin to appreciate the irony in the way we seem to find more comfort in the lionisation of public “servants” than in the celebration of wealthy entrepreneurs.

But then, quite some time back I made this rather important observation:

Great nations were not built on good intentions. They were built on business sense. Real change in Pinoy society will never be achieved through the “sacrifice” of altruistic “heroes”. True change will be driven by people who find no shame in expecting a buck for their trouble.

It is these sorts of people who out of sheer focus on making a tidy buck, find clever ways to make light bulbs last longer or package ten-centavo trinkets into 50-peso must-haves. These are the sorts of people upon whom great nations are built. They find better ways of doing and making things and expect to be rewarded.

In the last several years, it has become evident that much of the promise of the 1986 EDSA “people power” “revolution” was not realised. People will be quick to point out that nothing much has changed for the better. Same politics, same names, same bullshit populist rhetoric, same fundamental motivations. It turns out, that the lack of “freedom” and “justice” that supposedly marked the regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos was nothing but a lame excuse put forth to explain the Philippines’ poverty. 1986 was supposed to be the year that Filipinos “regained” their “freedom”. Perhaps they have. But Filipinos are still poor. And so, it turns out, it seems it wasn’t a lack of “freedom” and “justice” that kept Filipinos poor during the Marcos years.

For that matter, has there really been a material increase in freedom and justice since 1986? That remains quite debatable. More likely, the majority of Filipinos will dispute that notion that they are any freer than they were before 1986. And certainly the Philippines remains the same inherently unjust society it has always been for much of its history. Walang masumbungan. The average Filipino has nobody to turn to — not the police, not the army, and certainly not their politicians who, as is being progressively revealed to us today, are collectively perpetrating a profound institutionalised thievery the extent of which we are only beginning to understand.

Will even one senator go to jail? Probably not. That’s Philippine “justice” for you.

Nothing has changed.

Yet, when visitors and balikbayans come over for a visit, their wide-eyed wonder at how much has “changed” is very palpable. It is important to point out, however, that this “change” that is the source of their wonder — the gleaming skyscrapers, the tony shopping malls, and the festive round-the-clock bustle — are all the outcomes not of “honourable” politicians but of people out to make a buck for themselves. And they have achieved their goals and built all of that stuff not because of the Philippine government but despite it.

So let’s stop stumbling all over ourselves to hang medals on our traditional “heroes”. Let’s instead, celebrate wealth and the people who exhibit a talent for creating and accumulating it.

26 Replies to “It’s time Filipinos start recognizing the true builders of their country”

  1. I mention this in my own posts but the Filipino does not seem to idolize talent. Real meat and potatoes talent. Oh they love fluff. As substantial as cotton candy. Among their idols, who qualifies as a role model? I won’t name names since it’s obvious to those with eyes who can see.

    1. I gave this challenge one time to my students in History class (these are 1st-year college students, btw):

      “In five seconds, name a Filipino scientist and what his achievement is.”

      No one raised their hand, and only in the last second did one point to one of the fluorescent bulbs on the ceiling.

      “What’s his or her name?” I asked. After the five seconds passed, the student mentioned “Agapito Flores.” I shook my head and explained to them that that was a myth; they couldn’t believe this whole “Flores invented the fluorescent lamp” was a complete lie, which is still propagated by Filipino media and textbooks today.

      So I gave another challenge:

      “In fifteen seconds, name a Filipino philosopher and give a gist of his views.”

      This time, no one raised their hands. This alone was proof of two things: first, that Filipinos need to improve on their mental/intellectual faculties; second, Filipinos need to be more critical with the information given to them.

  2. It’s a sacrifice for all of us to inform our fellow countrymen. We have all jobs; with families to take care. Yet, we give our time to inform and enlighten our countrymen. Kudos to all Bloggers!!! They are the true Patriots and Heroes!!!

    The EDSA revolution is not a revolution. It is the same thievery; the same people; forcing out a dictator; to make themselves dictators, also. To me, it was a regression.

    To be a politician in our country; is to get into the ‘get rich quick” club. How many of those politicians elected, started with a few things in life. Now, they are multi millionaires. It was a dictatorship; now it is an Aquino Feudal Oligarchy Kleptocracy…

    Don’t judge a country by its buildings. If you open your eyes widely. You can find Squatters, living in sub human conditions, that are surrounding those big buildings.

  3. Yep, and I hope you are making some money on this here blog. Senseless not to, and people in the country are woefully underpaid…disgracefully so.

    1. @JT Jerzy:

      Nope…I don’t make money…it is free to those who read my blog…I’m gainfully employed in the Technical Academic Field/Research. I’m not rich, or poor, either. However, I’m satisfied in life that , I can help others see their way…this is enough for me…

  4. the country needs an entreprenuer to step up, maybe build a filippine auto-mobile or something like the NEO PC that was a decent little machine.

    1. @JT Jerzy:

      All the Brains in this country have migrated to foreign countries…the brains that are left are those of Aquino’s caliber;Binay’s caliber; Roxas’ caliber; Estrada’s caliber, etc… The Brains are forced out by economic neccesity…

    1. “…package ten-centavo trinkets into 50-peso must-haves”

      Does this mean you want people who could fool every other person out of their money to lead the country?

      Businesses are self serving. Whatever good they may be doing is just an after thought, Adam smith invisible hand at work. If you want a country to be run like an efficient business, make sure your manager knows who the ultimate shareholder is. More than skill, you need people with strong moral compass.

      1. “Fool” every other person? That’s not what business is about.

        “…package ten-centavo trinkets into 50-peso must-haves” means creating something valuable from the readily and cheaply available materials. This is what real entrepreneurs do. It requires skills and creativity – some things our government leaders today clearly lack of.

        And real entrepreneurs are the only ones with real “strong moral compass”. They only make money if they can provide real value to people. So the “afterthought” you are referring to is actually the first priority in order to make money. Not the other way around.

        Oh, and more than the strong moral compass they have, they also have the skills which are really necessary to help build a great country.

        Compare that to someone with a strong moral compass but doesn’t have the skill set to run things.. much less a country…

  5. Politicians and businessmen have fundamentally different goals and mindsets, and few achieve in crossing the divide, but most businessmen would not want to be in politics. They do not have respect for politicians – a necessary evil but transient.
    Businessmen get respect as the person, politicians get feigned respect for the position they occupy

    The politician is driven by power, and power is what you control. It can be both negative and destructive with little regard for good governance

    The businessman is driven by creating, and creating is what you build. It is more positive, contributory and seeks to develop potential, and being ‘good’ in business is increasingly good for business.

    As some-one said ‘politicians seek to repress freedom, the businessman seeks to unleash freedom’

    Money is not the driver for the businessman, it is simply a capital resource for investment/re-investment

    “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business”
    Henry ford

    The changes in the city (london) and wall street have resulted in short term shareholder value as the prime goal and this has had an adverse effect on many companies.

    The economic strength of germany resulted from long-term planning horizons and a stable stock market. Traders want volatility – be they bears or bulls.

    Inventors, engineers, research scientists are the heroes, and creativity is the key to progress and prosperity.

    The philippines is not only losing the little talent it has, but has no long term strategy to raise the bar ensuring the economic control is in the hands of oligarchs who are the worst type of businessmen since in their instance power and money are the motivation – the worst combination for job creation and talent development.

    The price the philippines pays is highest electricity in asean, and worst internet speeds in the world etc

    A survey by OpenSignal, a company that created impartial coverage maps of mobile networks, showed that the Philippines has the poorest and slowest LTE broadband internet access and coverage in
    the world.
    ‘Globe worst performing network in the world’
    Six million users from around the world were asked.

    “Ideas make money, money does not make ideas”
    Walt disney

  6. Top 40 families – wealth and economic control

    Philippines – 76% of GDP
    Thailand – 33%
    Malaysia – 5%
    Japan – 2%
    Uk – 0.2% ( UK now has over 2 million millionaires £)

    Inclusive growth cannot occur when there is exclusive control

  7. Can we also recognize the truth in the destroyers of our country and our people? I refer to the massive corruption, incompetence, inaction, evil use of power and examples, repression/suppression of guaranteed freedoms, political black propaganda, deceit through political slogans, manipulated surveys and dark treason in even Balkanizing our territories in Mindanao in favor of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front criminal, bandit, terrorist group. I mentioned only the tip of the iceberg. The list of wrongdoing and criminal/unconstitutional acts or omissions committed by natural persons in this regime of injustice, lies and deception is crying to heaven for justice! Damn your so-called political leaders! Damn your false facade and window dressing!

  8. The role of the government should be to foster an environment and culture which both promotes and produces entrepreneurs, particularly in high value sectors. Centres of excellence with the focus on practical skills and real-life experience. Reward risk and passion.

    It needs to establish priorities, channel resources, and build skills. It also needs to ensure that such skills remain in the philippines through incentives, ease of business, a start up culture, co-operation not conflict, bottom up growth, not top down control.

    Small business heroes do exist, as does a limited angel investor network in the philippines.
    Such people/initiatives need more support/exposure.

    There is a desperate need to accelerate high quality IT skills with the emphasis upon design, innovation, and applications, and fuel a genuine growth culture.

    Currently it is oligarch dominance at the top, sari-sari stores at the bottom and little in between.

    Agriculture also lumbers from one crisis to another as the fight still continues 28 years later around land reform.

    Vietnam implemented land reform and also introduced high value coffee crop which now contributes 9% of gdp, and which farmers can make a living on 1 – 2 hectares.

    Philippines used to be 4th largest coffee producer in the world. Now nothing. Other than some civet sh!t

  9. Here’s what Mr. F. Sionil Jose highlighted as the different between the oligarchs of developed countries and the oligarchs of this country:

    “Let us now look at the Western powers—the United States and Britain. How was America built? The robber barons, the Vanderbilts, the Morgans, Rockefellers and Stanfords were not saints—they raped the land, exploited their workers and were pompous and self-indulgent. But they built railroads, steel mills, industries, universities; after they amassed all that wealth, they went into philanthropy. The richest man in the world today — Bill Gates—poured billions into his crusade to banish the major illnesses and poverty in the world. He has no equal in the Philippines.

    The British Empire was envisioned in those smoky London clubs by the captains of industry, the admirals of the navy, the dons of Oxford and Cambridge. Read Charles Dickens — it is all there, how the industrialists exploited their workers. Those navy captains were also pirates, but together, they built an empire.

    In our part of the world, the leaders who built Korea, Japan, Taiwan were not saints either. Many of them were also corrupt. Perhaps, the only recent leader in Asia who was upright but stern and purposeful was Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore.

    For all their faults, these nation builders had vision and a sense of nation. These qualities, alas, are what our oligarchs never had and never will.

    It is easy of course to blame colonialism for our poverty and other problems for what hindered us from developing are the chains of colonialism, many of them invisible. We got to grow comfortable with them and at the same time, complacent with our dependency.

    Most of our elites came from the landlord class and landlords are often lazy, incapable of initiatives, used to sitting on their buttocks and waiting for the harvest, the rent.

    We haven’t progressed because our elites have no vision.”

    There you go. Industrialists can make great nations. We have no significant industry, one reason why we are not a great nation and have never been.

    1. We still haven’t pinpointed WHY Filipinos never cultivated a sense of identity or patriotism. Or why we tend to fall into a misguided sense of nationalistic pride — ‘yabang.’ Even F. Sionil Jose only goes so far as to recognise that KSP and ‘yabang’ need to be controlled.

      1. It’s somewhat elusive. I’d say there’s not one thing that’s the cause, it can be many different things. But perhaps Mr. Jose offers the above explanation – the apathy of the country’s elite – as one reason. Another could be the unwillingness of the Filipino to care beyond one’s immediate family or group – KKK-centrism. And of course, the individual Filipino’s selfishness and egocentrism.

  10. I agree with much of your words in your articles all of the time, however, I have to disagree with the “working-for-a-buck” concept. American’s are most oppressive and suppressive on black (Hebrew) Americans because we are their power source in every way. Thus, the fear level of America is very high when they begin to even hear of black (Hebrew) Americans travelling anywhere outside of America. Black (Hebrew) Americans built up the infrastucture of America on free labor, but we started with the various agricultural testings of the land and growing of various produces. Afterward, other infrastructual ventures were built on free labor and cost many of my ancestors their lives in the process. Many inventions began with the black (Hebrew) Americans and were stolen and patened by the Caucasian American, and these inventions were used to monopolize against the other countries in the world.

    Years later Caucasian Americans have established themselves in such a way that they’ve decided to subdue other countries in the same way in order to police and tax various places in the world; all while the black (Hebrew) American continues to maintain the country from within.

    In the same way, Asians have become a rising people by the unrestrained consumption of black (Hebrew) Americans buying their imports.

    Without discussing the minute matters and details inbetween economic growth, monetary, imposed inflation, and unnecessary tarrifs have become the reason good hearted, generous politicians, and honest government pesonnel have had to twist an arm or two in order to compete economically. However, that’s just the point, when generosity was replaced with monetary it hid the true flaws of global progression and interdependence.

    The sad truth is the hidden truth that early Americans have infringed itself upon every country in violence and disrespect of cultures. Because of the power of early America, all countries have been forced to compete in Americas system (game) of monopoly and monetary.

    True progress will not happen for many reasons, but detaching from America is the first move, then reestablishing the universal morale and desire for world shalom (peace). Wherever there’s a strong desire for power there will never be an economic balance in any place.

    Again, this goes way too deep, but education goal/purpose births aspiration. Without knowing what the point of working is for, aspiration cannot inspire or reinspire. America was wise to put countries against countries as well by subduing one country and offering a combined service with them to subdue their brother countries. Thus, China vs Japan or South Korea vs North Korea, remembering that early America has violently overtaken all countries is key to restoring shalom.

    It’s not about violent revolutions around the world, but silent detachments from the oppressor and subduer. Then government officials and personnel will have a true ability to match affection with action for their own people until it spreads to all people in the world.

    Generosity, sympathy, and empathy came before monetary, currency, and money.

  11. The future of any country do not depend on the government but rather on the governed. Filipinos should start to realize each individual potentials. Change within the self is the only way toward Philippine prosperity. Regardless of where a Filipino/Filipina is he/she can change the conditions in the Philippines and contribute to its development.

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