From First World to Third: The Philippine Story


The Philippine case of reverse-transformation from a former colony of first-world USA that was only 2nd to Japan and burgeoning with potential in the middle of the last century into the foremost basket case among emerging tigers serves as a prima facie model example in the world’s handbook on “How NOT to run a country”.

Manila in the 1960s:
The Philippines may be a victim of mismanagement following a premature granting of independence by the United States.

As it was once said of Africa by one of its leaders “Africa is not poor, it is poorly managed”, the Philippines takes its place as the African equivalent of a management nightmare in East Asia.

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Compounding the management debacle are several factors that contribute to its being left behind in past decades when other economies of neighboring countries were accelerating in leaps and bounds.

  1. Extremely harsh hot and humid climate, and disaster-prone Pacific rim of fire visited by 20 typhoons a year
  2. Disunity in every form: geographically as an archipelago, culturally as multi-lingual/multi-regional, and demographically with extreme wealth disparity between mostly Chinese/Mestizo billionaire class and dirt-poor Malay masses
  3. Relentless political unrest, discord and rebellions: CPP-NPA, MNLF, MILF, ASG, Maute …
  4. Mind-dumbing and emo-centric media promoting every sort of perversion and blatant display of stupidity
  5. Too much focus on politics and celebrities. Lots of talk with little actual work output.

But the above issues serve only as icing on the cake. The real root cause of the downward spiral of the nation lies deep, intrinsically lodged within the nefarious Pinoy psyche. The sickness starts in the mind.

The Americans had a first-world mindset. They were passing it on to their “little brown brothers” through extensive education during their stint as caretakers of the country back in the first half of the 1900s. A huge push forward was their teaching Filipinos their language, which the Spaniards would not do.

The big mistake though was the timing of Philippine independence. Disrupted by the Japanese occupation in the mid-1900s, America eventually let go of the Philippines to give in to the desire of the locals to enjoy the freedom of self-rule and self-determination.

Like removing training wheels from a little toddler who had merely begun to learn how to balance a bicycle, the case of Philippine independence was premature. If only we were given proper on-the-job training (OJT) and sufficient know-how/skills to govern a nation, the country would have taken a totally different road from what it has now gone through to become what it is today – a loser in almost every imaginable area (remember Splash!?)

How can we reverse the course of the nation’s further decline? The key is to get better managers. The Philippines exports hoards of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). We should seek in exchange, the influx of imported “First-World Managers” or FWMs who come in as invited guests embodying the secret sauce of winners (Zaxxun Creed). We should seek FWMs from advanced nations of Northern Asia, Northern Europe, Northern America and Australia-New Zealand not just for businesses but for key agencies and government positions.

Do you realize why Filipinos abroad are so successful? This is because Filipinos perform at their optimum best when they are in a working environment that is under first-world management.

Compare how Filipinos behave under a fellow-native-Pinoy manager vs. under a German or Japanese executive, for example. More often than not, the Pinoy manager will connive and work in cahoots with the rest of the organization to do under-the-table irregularities to bend and evade rules. The Filipino manager will lower the standards of product/service quality to give in to Pinoy substandard behavior.

Just imagine how the Bureau of Customs will look like if we replace with an FWM one who has miserably failed on his mission of ridding this notorious agency of corruption?

Can Duterte reverse Philippine regression?

The new president has the heart and shows true grit to make a dent in fixing what’s wrong in the country today. But he cannot do it alone. Every level of authority that manages the country needs to align with the overall goal and vision of creating a Philippines that is free from the shackles of dysfunctional behavior.

Inviting FWMs to partner with local executives and train them on proper management and catch the FWM’s superior first-world decision-making process can create wonders. Sooner or later, the FWM culture will rub off to the locals to the point that they can paddle on their own.

Discipleship is a concept that many in religious circles are familiar with. However, Filipinos have the wrong notion of discipleship being merely a class or lecture where followers/trainees are taught using their tired old “blah blah” “dak-dak” method. Rather, the correct method should actually be similar to an OJT, where the “master” leads by example – by demonstration in an actual field environment. The disciple then learns by repetition while looking at how the master does things.

Leadership makes a primary difference. Imagine if Singapore didn’t have a Lee Kwan Yew? What if he was succeeded by an incompetent like Joseph Abaya of the past “gago” administration who purchased MRT trains that were incompatible to our system?

We finally have a “go!go!” president who appears to be gifted with the Midas touch. What we need next are FWM-class executives to trickle down the “magic” to the rest of our countrymen.

The same goes for our educational system – we should open up to first-world teachers and professors. The next generation has hope as long as we break the cycle of “the blind leading the blind.” Don’t you think it’s about time to climb out of the pit?

10 Replies to “From First World to Third: The Philippine Story”

  1. The Philippines has the worst Luck of being Colonized in all Asia which is the Spaniards, their influence after many decades of Colonization before the Japanese/Americans came have been embedded thru and thru specially those in Luzon/Imperial Manila, Visayas got wrecked too, except maybe for Mindanao that fought off those Spaniards even the Americans during those times.

    Just check our neighboring Countries, British/French/Dutch/American Colonizers and they where prosperous.

  2. Because in the Philippines, the ass hole is alway in charge!

    Asshole rules the human body

    All the organs of the body were having a meeting, trying to decide who was the one in charge.

    “I should be in charge,” said the brain, “Because I run all the body’s systems, so without me nothing would happen.”

    “I should be in charge,” said the blood , “because I circulate oxygen all over so without me you’d all waste away.”

    “I should be in charge,” said the stomach , “because I process food and give all of you energy.”

    “I should be in charge,” said the legs , “because I carry the body wherever it needs to go.”

    “I should be in charge,” said the eyes, “Because I allow the body to see where it goes.”

    “I should be in charge,” said the rectum , “Because I’m responsible for waste removal.”

    All the other body parts laughed at the rectum and insulted him, so in a huff, he shut down tight.

    Within a few days, the brain had a terrible headache, the stomach was bloated, the legs got wobbly, the eyes got watery, and the blood was toxic. They all decided that the rectum should be the boss.

    The Moral of the story?

    The ass hole is usually in charge!

  3. Zaxx: it’s nice to see a writer focusing on issues instead of personalities again.

    I don’t agree with you that Duterte has “the Midas touch” (unless you forgot to include the word ‘reverse’) since he has, so far, done absolutely nothing to correct the dysfunctional structure of the country. If anything, he’s making it worse by spending freely on things that the country doesn’t need using money the country doesn’t have. If he would just take the shackles off the economy and let it run free, he’d have all the money he needs for his pet projects. It’s possible he can’t even see that the shackles are even there, since he grew up with them and knows nothing different.

    I do agree with you that the country desperately needs an injection of foreign talent, but I think you underestimate the ability of Pinoys to utterly stuff things up. Put a German manager in charge of the BOC and every single employee would conspire to make him fail, either by playing dumb (“oh but sir I didn’t know”), actual subterfuge and sabotage, or plain old-fashioned murder.

    It can’t be done. The average Pinoy is unemployed because he’s unemployable. The only ones capable of making the grade up and leave for foreign lands, and who can blame them? No, you need a new generation of Pinoys. You need schools entirely run and staffed by foreigners. Not just any old foreigners – simply being non-Filipino doesn’t magically make you competent – but the best of the best. You need Pinoy kids being brainwashed from their earliest years. It’s bad to steal. It’s bad to cheat. It’s bad to hurt others to make yourself look good. And so on. Twenty years later, they’ll be ready to take on their elders, who brought this country to the state it’s in now.

    The tragedy is that there a probably a million over-optimistic, bright-eyed college graduates who would be happy to do this for free, or at least in exchange for food and lodging. The US, I think, used to have something called the Peace Corps (possibly still does) which sent young people abroad to do this kind of thing. Some European countries have similar programs. Unfortunately, Duterte has been busy telling the Americans and the Europeans that they’re all idiots, and their response has been to shrug and say: ‘whatever, then – you deal with you own crap’.

  4. hoard
    a stock or store of money or valued objects, typically one that is secret or carefully guarded.
    “he came back to rescue his little hoard of gold”

    a large group of people.
    “he was surrounded by a horde of tormenting relatives”

  5. “Can Duterte reverse the Philippine regression?”, the author asked… Of course! why not, if all Filipinos would contribute to the common good of the country…it can be done…

    Japan was devastated after World War II; so was Germany. Now, both countries are now first world countries, and economic powers.

    Unless, we all reverse our idiotic thinking , in focusing too much on politics and these idiotic politicians, political dynasties, incompetence, graft, corruption, padrino political system, feudalism, political war lords, etc..

    We will never get out from being the “basket case category” of Asia.

    Go to observe the Japanese society…everybody has a place, and a skill to contribute for the goodness of all.

    The Germans are good in innovations and corporate management…
    Their Prime Minister Angela Merkel is a Nuclear Chemist. A very intelligent woman. Compare her to the Aquinos, who ruled us for many years, by “Cult of Personality”… How do these Filipino leaders be compared to the German leaders ?

    We have too many “SHOWMEN and SHOW WOMEN”, in politics… We have only a few leaders, who really have the skills and visions, to run and manage the country , in the right way.

    We have too much stupidity, incompetence, graft and corruption. Politics to most politicians, is a way to get very rich !

  6. Never mind, Manny will soon be in charge to solve everything. Seriously, what you said has a lot of merit. Unfortunately it could never happen as the Filipinos are much too racist. None more than the current President.They know it all. They are right, and the rest of the world are wrong. That’s why we are on the bottom of the pile!

  7. Question doesn’t the culture here invite failure? I went to university here just for fun. My teachers many times would be late to class. I tried to do business here and many times the people would be late. People would show up late to a job interview. These same people would turn around and insult me and tell me that this is not the culture of the Filipinos when I did not want to do business with them or hire them. They would many times tell me that I should accept the culture here or go back to America. The Phils does not need my money or my business. There are many of us good and bad Americans here that would volunteer our time freely to help make the Phils better, because we live here. The problem is that anytime we talk about change or give a ideal someone is very quick to insult us and bring up that culture is the reason things are done a certain way here.

  8. Our evolution depends on our memory. If we keep forgetting the mistakes of the past, only to keep repeating them, then we will never change. Humanity will never move forward, spiritually or morally, to become superior beings.

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