How idiopreneurship can stem the flow of talented people abandoning the Philippines

Much has been said about how the appalling work conditions, low pay, and stifling congestion in the Philippines is driving away its most talented workers. But what seems to be the biggest put-off for the greatest Filipino minds is the intellectual bankruptcy that prevails in Philippine society. Much has also been said about technology being the silver bullet that will rescue the world’s people from the ravages of ignorance. We have come to embrace this idea and now take it for granted. Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate its validity. The Philippines offers a perfect laboratory to do just that.

The Philippines, as many of its noted ‘thought leaders’ like pointing out, is the world’s “social networking capital” pulling a whopping 93.9 percent of its population into Facebook…

Social network penetration is incredibly high in the Philippines, reaching 95%. Facebook is the country’s most popular website, more so than Google, and has a penetration rate of 93.9%. The Philippines is also the eighth most popular country for Twitter use on a global scale, with a penetration rate of 16.1%. The popularity of photo sharing has increased by 46% in the country in one year, largely due to Facebook. Social networking is so popular among Filipinos, the country has been nicknamed “The Social Networking Capital of the World.”

But does more social media activity and more chatter translate to increased collective intelligence?

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Back in 2000 before the rise to Web dominance of social networking, when most Filipinos (and much of the rest of the world) accessed the Net via dial-up, an “admired Filipino economist, based in New York” made this observation of the Philippine National ‘debate’:

“They are droll and unintelligent, focused on the trivial or the irrelevant.” When the issues are of some significance, it’s the wrong arguments that prevail, the wrong side wins. Logic and common sense take the backseat to political arguments and the views of the poorly-educated.

That was 14 years ago. Have things changed now that 93.9 percent of Filipinos are now networked together into a Borgesque collective of digital chatter and sharing?

One quick way to answer that question is to examine the products of the Philippines’ “democratic” exercises — its popularly-elected president and members of Congress.

Current Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III is credited as the first Philippine president who made full use of social media in his campaign (following in US President Barrack Obama’s footsteps as the free world’s most famous pioneer in that field). Thus, one can say that President BS Aquino, like President Obama, is a product of modern crowdsourcing. We qualify our use of the concept of crowdsourcing here with “modern” because democracy is the oldest form of crowdsourcing. For the benefit of the millenials amongst our readers, it is worth reminding that people did manage to vote without machines back in the old days. Indeed, a show of hands amongst members of a Neanderthal clan gathered in a cave 500,000 years ago to determine whose buffalo wall painting was the coolest was perhaps the first human democratic exercise.

So does President BS Aquino, as a product of a more “technologically-enabled” Philippine “democracy”, represent an improvement on the intellectually-bankrupt national debate cited by that New York economist 14 years ago? For that matter does the quality of the Filipino people’s representation in their Congress of popularly-elected Senators and congressmen reflect the much-touted intelligence-enhancing properties of 21st Century social networking technology?

Suffice to say, since that seminal 2000 article, those once insightful questions have been reduced to the merely rhetorical, now that the answers to them have become quite obvious.

Nonetheless, we continue to latch on to the idea that more chatter, more information, and more “sharing” necessarily makes a people more intelligent. The “wisdom of the crowd” continues to be a buzzword and the mantra du jour of the country’s social media mavens. The height of this frenzy to find political wisdom in Internet chatter was most felt during the key defining event in President BS Aquino’s presidential term — the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona. In that quaint exercise, the wisdom of the Filipino crowd was tapped at every step and component of the process. Popularly-elected “Senator-Judges” composed the “court”. Popularly-elected House Representatives composed the “prosecution”. And the media (operating within the framework of their popularity-equals-profit business models) became the key sources of “evidence”.

At the height of this 2012 circus, noted “journalist” Raissa Robles sang hymns praising the quality of evidence against Corona that emerged from her efforts to crowdsource her throngs of fans. And coming out of nowhere just in time for the event was, Maria Ressa’s groundbreaking “social news network” site. The hipster “journalists” of Rappler proceeded to contribute to the overall “crowdsourcing” effort already led by Robles and lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr to bury Corona’s defense team (led by the late great Serafin Cuevas) in dubious, often illegally-obtained evidence.

Just about every legal mind in the country watched in horror as the Senate and House of Representatives, supported by All the President’s [Wo]men in Philippine Media made a mockery of the Philippines’ legal profession, all to further the President’s pet project

Complicit in this project to morph Corona’s impeachment into the national embarrassment that it is today was a very “cooperative” Philippine mainstream media mob that, parroted to its vacuous audience just about every press release made by the prosecution team. It will be interesting to see if there will be any rectification made on the volumes of “news reports” issued by this small inbred clique of freedom of speech “champions”.

Most ironic of all is the prosecution allegation that Corona “betrayed the public trust”. It is evident now that it had been the House-Media-Malacanang political complex that did just that — a deliberate wholesale misleading of an entire nation. Not only was the chief magistrate of the Republic subjected to a trial that made even the Senate look like a bunch of chumps, the privacy of a number of people caught in the LRA database search dragnet mounted by Diaz were also violated.

The Philippines' wealthiest businessmen have long recognised the goldmine we are sitting on.

The Philippines’ wealthiest businessmen have long recognised the goldmine we are sitting on.

We are happy to report to the Noted Filipino New-York-Based Economist that, in 2012 (despite the awesome might of 21st Century social media technology coming into play), the wrong arguments won in the Philippines.

And they still do.

A multitude of problems that beg obvious solutions continue to fester in the Philippines. Traffic has never been so bad. Yet abusive — often criminal — public transport operators and drivers continue to lord it over the Philippines’ roads and highways.

The Philippine media, often cited as the key to enlightening the Philippines’ throngs of ignoramous masses, continues to churn out braincell-killing teleserye, moronic noontime variety shows, and unoriginal, mediocre cinema — horsemanure that Filipinos worldwide gleefully consume that nonetheless delivers megabucks for enormous multinational conglomerates like ABS-CBN.

Most recent is the so-called “activism” surrounding the pork barrel scam — focusing on the trivial (various Napoles Lists cleverly fielded to distract small minds) and ignoring the relevant (a proper and scientific criminal investigation mounted by qualified professional investigators). Vacuous ideas and slogans continue to prevail in the Philippine “activist” scene, seriously misleading the public and sending even the most educated of people on wild goose chases.

And so it comes across as no surprise that smart Filipinos leave.

Then again, to be fair, perhaps the really smart ones stay and beaver away in the background raking in huge profits on the back of an enormous market for goods and services created by mind-numbing stupidity on a national scale. One need not look too far and hard for examples of these brilliant idiopreneurs. All of the top accounting firms in the Philippines have thriving practices geared towards helping gold clients get around the country’s decrepit tax regime. Manufacturers and distributors of advertising paraphernalia routinely make a killing during elections. Technology consultants laugh all the way to the bank advising the government on how to computerise its political exercises and selling the hardware and software to make this happen. And Philippine Banks continue to enjoy the distinction of being the world’s last bastion of traditional Swiss Banking, thanks to the Philippines’ AML-proof bank secrecy laws.

Perhaps it is true that it really is more fun in the Philippines. To make millions in the Philippines, you only really need a mediocre product or service and millions of suckers willing to part ways with their parents’ hard-earned remittances.

24 Replies to “How idiopreneurship can stem the flow of talented people abandoning the Philippines”

    1. To be fair to Pres. Obama and Pres. Aquino, they are both poor performers in their previous careers as legislators, they are unqualified to do the jobs they currently hold, they surround themselves with incompetent (though possibly well meaning) sycophants who tell them only what they want to hear, both of them blatantly disregard constitutional law, they both gained their positions through a wave of sympathy from a largely emotional electorate that was dazzled by slogans and rhetoric which tuned out any real issues.

      1. *whistle*…so they’re the same in both respects? Funny, I always thought Obama has it better than BS Aquino.

        On the other hand, I don’t think Pres. Obama would violate their constition as worse as Aquino would and has had. Or is their something I’m missing here again? Either ways, incompetency is intolerable and if only the Filipino would make itself be aware of that then we would be better off.

        1. Yes, simply put, you are missing much of what is obvious.

          Incompetence IS intolerable. Barrack Obama is a rare, and, considering the events of his presidency to date, an over-hyped political talent. But the Obama that comports to the reality is one whose incompetence has resulted in disaster when it comes to actual governance.

          He promised his government would create ‘shovel-ready’ jobs when it turned out that none of those projects he claimed were ready to take off were actually available. Worse, his government granted billions in subsidies as part of a massive ‘stimulus’ that happened to be directed towards a number of contributors to his presidential campaign. There is the failure to implement his signature legislation — the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ‘Obama-care.’ Not only was his new healthcare law a disaster, it also raised the price of health insurance and medical care in the United States, the exact OPPOSITE of the law’s intent. He also came under fire for okaying a massive surveillance program without restriction and for ordering the IRS to target specific organisations and individuals who may have opinions contrary to the White House’s stand. The latest debacle involves practices of the Veterans’ Administration that has resulted in the deaths of at least 40 veterans due to delayed health care, a problem Obama himself cited in his first campaign for the presidency.

          Overseas the range of Obama’s failures include the Russian ‘reset’ that only encouraged Vladimir Putin’s belligerence, inaction on Syrian ‘red lines’ to his apathy on Iran’s Green Revolution, the Egyptian overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, and post-Gaddafi Libya. The first American ambassador since the 1970s was murdered after requests for greater security for the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi were denied.

          Through it all, the White House response to everything from the VA and IRS scandals to the seizure of personal telephone and Internet records is that it learned about them from press reports. More and more Mr. Obama speaks as if he’s a passive actor, a bystander in his own administration, watching events he has no real control over.

          On every front, Obama is over-matched by events. Even members of his own party privately call him ‘incompetent’ and ‘detached.’ What that tells us is that while he is very proficient at ‘crowdsourcing’ and community organising, his skills aren’t oriented toward actual governing. Too bad Americans are going to have to learn that painful truth the hard way.

          When has Barrack Obama violated (constitutional) law? He bragged about doing it in his State of the Union address last year (2013). Pres. Obama has referred to his pen and his phone as a way of suggesting that he will use his power to issue executive orders, promulgate regulations and use his influence with his appointees in the government’s administrative agencies to continue the march to transform fundamentally the relationship of the federal government and individuals to his vision when he is unable to accomplish that with legislation from Congress.

          Obama has used the IRS and the Department of Justice to target conservative/Republican, Christian and pro-Israel organizations, donors, and citizens. He’s ordered investigations of reporters who have expressed opinions contrary to his views. This is a clear violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

          He’s refused to enforce long-established immigration laws in order to keep illegal immigrants in the United States. The reason? As it happens to have coincided with the 2012 presidential election, it seems highly suspicious that this occurred at a time Mr Obama needed to woo socially conservative Hispanics for their votes.

          After getting his healthcare bill passed, Mr Obama, to date, has NOT fully implemented it. A violation of the principle that American presidents must enforce the Constitution and ALL LAWS Congress has written, even those they dislike. As it happens, the ACA has become highly unpopular owing to its sloppy implementation and a number of his fellow Democrats face a loss in the upcoming elections (November 2014) because of this. Mr Obama refuses to implement the ACA apparently to lessen the damage it may have caused. In August 2013, Pres. Obama directed the Office of Personnel Management to interpret the law to EXEMPT Congress from being required to follow ACA, instead maintaining their existing generous benefits.

          This list of violations could go on for several pages but these represent some of the most egregious failures of his duty to ‘preserve, protect, and defend’ the Constitution, and to ‘take care that the law be faithfully executed.’

        2. A law that was supposedly good-intentioned but turned out to be a disaster…a highly-lauded bill but can’t get through because someone doesn’t have the balls to sign it (either that, or he thinks it’s damaging to his presidency)…a controversy in which the government is cleaning its hands on but is actually directly responsible for it (and further proof of their incompetence)…horrible foreign relations…and a continued persecution of political enemies. Kind of reminds me of someone.

          Small world ha? Thanks for the info man. You guys are the bomb.

        3. There are too many inaccuracies in your misunderstandings about Obama to even give a shit about correcting them all.I actually enjoy listening to you rant about shit you haven’t got the slightest clue about…ITS PRETTY FUCKIN FUNNY, and it show’s most glaringly wwen you forget to even mention the date and time THe U.S. Constitution lost one of its core ‘Rights’ and who actually did it. and then there are other recent studies out at Harvard suggesting that the prices for many ‘procedures tests and surgeries’ are actually coming down.The reason the AFCA was implemented in the FIRST -PLACE flies right over you dimwhit head as well.

          Referring to Obamma inadvertently recoiling from ‘Putin’s beliigerence’,LOL!!! a Man who has stated very little during the Ukrainian crisis because he is surrounded,Putins silent because the end could very well be near for he and his government.At this very moment the people who really run this world are carving up the Ukraine and doing their best to figure a way of getting rid Putin himself so they can have all of Russia’s resources as well.

          The rest of the drivel you posted I am actually not even going to read it the nonsense of it BUT will leave you with this:

          The AFCA, was never suppossed to benefit the people.In 2009 when the country was in the grips of a financial meltdown, what does the government do??” The AFCA? PLEASE, it was designed to divert attention from the thievery that makes the PDAF scandal look like gummball thievery.

          and if it did ever see the light of day,because the people(HA,THE PEOPLE,LOL) demanded it, it would see to it that people would only be able to get access if they had full-time jobs….and now? NO ONE DOES have full-time jobs=no qccess to AFCA!!! tease!!!!

          Bhengazi was a “Black-ops priso”. that BTW, he cant just come out and admit ,u kno? why do you think he blamed it on that idiotic movie, pretty funny actually!

          SAINT, one day you will hear a gigantic popping noise, BUT DO NOT WORRY…it will only be your head popping out of your ass!!!!

          I could have really ripped into you on this one Saint, but just dont care that much to shwo you where your so tragically wrong. about almost everything!!!

        4. its actually funnier listening to you expound on things you have no clue about. After the way you act as if your some type of ‘ORACLE’, ha,I’d rather keep laughing qat your dumbass.

  1. Sorry dude Obama was/is not a product of ‘crowdsourcing’.Sure, you can say it, but he just is not.

    1. By definition, ‘crowdsourcing’ uses online communities and social media to obtain support/services/content/funding from a large group of people rather than the traditional resources used for campaigning such as fund raisers and the like. While Barrack Obama did his own fair share of fund raising through the regular channels used by the Democratic party, it is generally acknowledged that his is the first presidency that was won because social media and the Internet played a very significant role in convincing the voters and shaping public opinion of the freshman Senator from Chicago. This phenomenon in turn spurred the growing practice of using online communities as a source for everything from funding to business ideas to research and development to lawmaking. You may believe otherwise, but you are simply wrong.

      1. The both of you are NEVER wrong about anything. There are quite a few inaccuracies is this essay and IDRC that much to argue with you about them.I just don’t.I actually support what you people are doing.The way you come at me at times is difficult to understand.

        Recently I pointed out that GMA is not in jail, as has been stated many, many times on this blog.When I pointed this out,AGAIN, GRP was not wrong and had a way to point out the fact that somehow I was misunderstanding the statements made by GRP.This is just FALSE. Keep in mind, I DO NOT REALLY CARE THAT MUCH to argue these facts.Think what you want to think, but the bitch is not in jail.
        My experience is that Filipino’s can never admit when they are wrong.Self-esteem issues or whatever.I am not here to psychoanalyze you either. NEXT TIME YOU WRONG about something concerning the USA or International event/concern though?Oh yes,YOU WILL BE CALLED ON IT.

        An apple doesn’t become an Orange just because you think it does…and for the record,I have stated when I am wrong here.Yes, I happens to human beings regardless of their intentions to do other-wise,it just does.

        1. Thom,

          You’re going to split hairs over a simple definition of terms, stamp your feet, scream and throw a tantrum over not being able to get your way? Very appropriate behaviour for a petulant four year old.

          Normally, contributors and writers on GRP use rhetoric to articulate their position. Arguments backed up by facts to convince readers of the validity of a certain point of view. The way civilised adults would conduct a discussion. You should try it. It is understandable if you find it difficult. As you said, you DO NOT REALLY CARE THAT MUCH to argue using facts; you just blurt out whatever is on your mind and expect everyone else to lap it up without question.

          Incidentally, you should consider broadening your definition of what it means to be ‘in jail.’ In English law, ‘imprisonment’ is the restraint of a person’s liberty. A person may be incarcerated in a cage or limited to the confines of their own home; for as long as that person is not at liberty to come and go freely, that person is ‘imprisoned.’

          Gloria Arroyo is confined to a suite of rooms at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center. The Philippine National Police implement several protocols which restrict her access to certain areas of the hospital. Visitation is limited and visitors are screened prior to entering. She is not allowed access to cellular phones, laptops and/or similar devices. These are exactly the same procedures in place at the national penitentiary.

          Because Gloria Arroyo’s windows do not have bars, this may not exactly fit your very narrow definition of a ‘jail cell’ or what it means to be ‘in jail.’ However, considering the security procedures which control her day to day existence, one would be inclined to agree that there isn’t much difference between Arroyo’s ‘hospital arrest’ and being incarcerated in the local jail to make a distinction. Except maybe that the VMMC is a lot cleaner.

        2. @ JS, LOL, I am not the one plitting hairs. Again, one of you accuse someone of exactly what you are doing.Nor did I scream or throw a tantrum. You and a few others here can never admit you are wrong, but your only kidding yourself.

          its stereo-typical and don’t like to do it….but it fits.

          FLIP ON, TAMPON.

        3. Thom,

          To paraphrase the witling Thom Hardy: Sure, you can say you aren’t, but you are. BASTA!

  2. Aquino won by HOCUS PCOS, and his winning was justified by his propaganda machine: the ABS-CBN Lopez media. The Corona impeachment will be viewed by Historians, as an extensive/excessive abuse of Presidential power; using public funds to buy the votes of Senator jurors. The Senator Jurors will be viewed, as the most corrupt bunch of jurors…Aquino will be known as the most incompetent and corrupt President that ever reigned in the Philippines…

    Social Media can help inform the masses. Internet Cafes are everywhere. Internet can be a good source of information. But beware, use your brain. There are YellowTards, who misinform and twist the truth for the sake of sanitizing the stink of the Aquino administration.

    We encourage everybody to Blog, to share ideas and informations. Some to share your ignorance…anyway, readers can be forgiving.
    Happy Blogging..

  3. The status quo was set when all of us were born, and it will remain unchanged long after we are gone. Bitter voices here dream and hope for change, a nice way to pass the time. But that’s all it really is.

    Enjoy your dreaming, thats all most of us have. The golden age has long burned out, all thats left are embers of hope that will eventually burn out.

  4. Status qou can be easily changed…it is up to the Filipino people…Great trees can go down by small strokes of the woodcutters. Nothing is permanent in this world. French revolution came, then the Russian revolution, followed by other revolutions.

  5. I was told by an owner of a Pinoy Software Development shop(Doing amazing things in Web/Mobile solutions for SaaS SME Healthcare) He told me ‘Kevin you changed my life man, I heard you speak at this event and you said, I could do anything I wanted to do, that I cold invent, run my own business, and have any customer and client in the world. Kevin you told me the only thing that stopped me in my life was me. Kevin, I realized I would rather be the head of a chicken shit outfit than the ASS of a cow, (huge BPO) I nearly wept. Today reading this I feel the same and I can not tell you how happy I am to read this post, and see that the tiny flame I have been fanning and adding fuel too my eight years in the Philippines is starting to burn brightly. I have been speaking at all the leading IT and Outsourcing events and interviewed about this, I BELIEVE that the Philippines is on the cusp of a real revolution, one of the mind, the consciousness where and when the mind virus connects the dots, from the slave (get a job – go overseas- BPO) mindset to the – I AM GOING TO FOLLOW MY BLISS, invent create, and change the Philippines. Poverty is nothing more than Opportunity – we as humans suffer not from money shortage but from a lack of IDEAS and KNOWLEDGE.

  6. I am just wondering what is that 93.9% figure. Of course all of the pinoy priders can thump their chest about it. If I am not mistaken, the percentage is the number of people in the whole Philippines connected with facebook. Of course that is out of the total number who has internet access which is about 35%. So out of 100M filipinos, that would still translate to about 32M, not considering the fact that some facebook accounts are either fakes and some are multiple accounts from a single person.

    Also consider the fact what is posted on a typical filipino facebook wall. I would say I only get substantial posts on my wall from “friends” once in a while, most of them are forwarded posts which sometimes borders on absolute time wasters to outright idiotic and stupid. Quantity against quality? Just how would that translate then to increased collective intelligence, if all i can see on my wall is what lunch you had with a person I do not even know, in a place I do not even care to go.

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