A lot of Filipinos enjoy the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. But the strangest thing: They fail to understand why political dynasties exist in their own country. The fact that people can relate to the characters, stories, and conflicts in GoT is because the plot appeals to the deepest recesses of human nature and culture. Dynasties are as natural a social construct as eating and sleeping.
It’s hardly surprising that Filipinos are, on one hand, all indignant about the stubborn persistence of political dynasties while, on the other hand, themselves beholden to the family institution. Dynasties are natural wealth management systems just like any modern business enterprise. They are organised to ensure capital is held in a persistent and profitable structure and that the means to achieve and sustain that state of affairs are maintained.
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So political dynasties, as social entities, essentially work towards two goals: (1) hold wealth within the control of its members and (2) secure that control.
Why do Filipinos need dynasties? Simple. Because the majority of Filipinos fail at managing wealth.
Look no further than capital entrusted to the management of public institutions. The Philippines’ public transport systems, infrastructure, and service agencies are all decrepit embarrassments. The way the jewel of Metro Manila’s public transport system — its rail-based elevated commuter trains — degenerated so rapidly over just a single presidential term highlights just how inept Filipinos and their servants in government are at keeping stuff neat, shiny, and running like clockwork. In the hands of Filipino officials, the Philippines’ most cherished holiday spots have become cesspools of human refuse within just two to three decades.
Even an effort to seize property from traditional hacienderos (colonial land owners) and redistribute these to farmers has been a failure. Left to their devices, ordinary Filipinos “managing” their doled-out assets spend their days drinking beer at the corner store.
Perhaps, then, Filipinos deserve to be stolen from by their own leaders — because the alleged “thieves” in the Philippine oligarchy have better, more profitable ideas that could be applied to these assets. While most Filipinos lie under the proverbial guava tree with mouths agape, enterprising oligarchs invest in ladders.
Family-controlled companies remain the backbone of the capital base of the Philippine economy. Indeed, they probably play a greater role in keeping wealth within the Philippines’ borders than multinational companies. Compare this to capital injected into the economy by the “foreign investors” that “progressive” Filipinos salivate over. Filipino workers toiling away in foreign-owned factories get paid a pittance for their trouble making products that will eventually be sold back to them for hundreds of times the value of their input into their manufacture.
A truly free market cannot force foreign business to re-invest their earnings in the Philippines. They will only do that if the Philippines is seen to be a viable re-investment site that meets their numbers. If not, these foreign companies will simply repatriate all of their profits back to their head offices in North America, Western Europe, and Northeast Asia. The reality is, the Philippines is not worth higher-level long-term investment. At best, many foreign businesses looking at the Philippines invest in what amounts to just a cash tube to dip into the Philippines’ massive (but low per-capita value) consumer market to siphon as much OFW remittances into their pockets as they could.
In that previous Juan Tamad example, they build the ladder to get the guava then take the fruit and the ladder with them back home. When they come back the next season, Juan is still there lying under the same tree with his mouth open, still waiting.
Philippine dynasties, on the other hand, are emotionally-invested in the Philippines. They are Filipinos’ only shot at developing an economy propped up by home-grown, indigenously-created capital. Their salvation does not lie in spreading their legs to invite in foreign capitalists and opening the floodgates to allow a deluge of cheap imported Chinese trinkets. Thanks to the fatal victim mentality deeply-entrenched in their psyches, Filipinos think they are entitled to a big chunk of the profits these dynasties rake in. Unfortunately, people who can’t and won’t build ladders aren’t entitled to anything.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.