“Pwede na yan” is Tagalog for “better than nothing”

It’s not surprising that Filipinos are now called to accept what COVID-19 vaccines they get are better than nothing. Filipinos had it coming for a long time now. A whole national tradition of making do with junk because these were better than nothing marks most of its history since being granted “independence” by the United States in 1946. In fact, there is a Tagalog phrase dedicated to encapsulating this national character trait:

Pwede na yan.

The kinds of COVID-19 vaccines they get today and the way it is delivered to them is classic jeepney-style “ingenuity”. Why complain now when for decades after independence in 1946, Filipinos heaved a collective shrug year in and year out, decade in and decade out as they boarded their decrepit rides to and from work and collectively sighed — pwede na yan.

The only reason we now hear the chi chi “activists” and titas of Manila throwing a fit about something substandard is because they (or their sponsors and amigas) are affected. They now find themselves amidst the throng of unwashed masses in the equivalent of the proverbial mad scramble for essential government services. So now — at least for these shrieking titas — pwede na yan is just not good enough. Their chi chi gated subdivisions, private schools and hospitals, private cars, and private sector access to all those nice things will do them no good this time and they have no choice but to screech about the very same government services all the rest of them had been putting up with for decades.

The trouble with this state of affairs is that there is no critical mass — literally — in the Philippines to support credible calls for good enough at a mass scale. The ethic is just not there. Philippine society is the way it is and, as a result, left behind by all the rest because of a missing chip in Filipinos’ collective intellect that renders them incapable of aspiring to excellence through innovation and doing things differently. Whilst little mom-and-pop companies that once made bicycles in Korea now export wondrous works of engineering that now compete head-to-head with the best of those made in Germany and Japan, the Philippines’ industries languish in abject mediocrity, unable to compete even within the domestic market.

Even if the best of them COVID-19 vaccine options were actually available in the Philippines, it is unlikely that the way they will be distributed will do justice to them. Using the Philippines’ public transport situation as an example again, it is like how importing the most modern buses and trains in the world won’t matter if the system that they will be put into service within sucks. Think of it for a minute — modern buses that cost 200 thousand dollars a piece deployed to jeepney routes. It’ll be an utter waste!

Filipinos need to get real about their beliefs that they are entitled to the best that the world has to offer. It will mean ensuring that they have an ethic of being equally-capable of grasping what it means to be world-class. Until then, just shrug, relax and chant the ol’ mantra — pwede na yan.

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58 Comments on ““Pwede na yan” is Tagalog for “better than nothing””

  1. Hey if you love Korea so much, why don’t you LIVE there!!!

    Don’t ever meddle with our goddamned Filipino affairs as you are NOT one and was NEVER one, you UNGRATEFUL TRAITOR!!!

    1. How is he a traitor? Is migrating to another country treason? Show me a law in the Philippines which says that migrating to another country is treason Show me a law in the Philippines which says that what benign0 did is treason. Go on.

      1. Yes benign0 is a TRAITOR because he has chosen to hide out in the safety of his beloved AUSTRALIA rather than fighting the GOOD FIGHT at home with his countrymen.

        A TRUE Filipino dies with his country like a captain and his ship.

        Not like that wanna-be Aussie benign0 (aka trolling Jim “Jakolero” Paredes)

        1. PETER ALOYSIUS, I asked you to show me a law in the Philippines which says that migrating is treason and what he did is treason but you failed to do that.

          Again, which law says that a Filipino should die with his country like a captain and his ship?

          Your logic is just a sign of toxic nationalism. One sign of toxic nationalism is calling fellow countrymen traitors just because they migrated to better countries.

          You’re also exhibiting crab mentality because you want your fellow countrymen to stay in your country and suffer(yes suffer because you said “fighting the GOOD FIGHT at home”) instead of letting them migrate to a better country to get a better lifestyle without calling them a traitor. By wanting them to stay in your country to “fight”, you don’t want them to advance or to have a better lifestyle.

          Lastly, if a ship is sinking, why would a passenger be required to sink with the sinking ship if he’s not even an officer or crew let alone captain? If a ship is sinking, then abandon the ship.

          Migrating to other countries to have better and safer lifestyle is actually an intelligent option. I myself would choose to migrate to have better and safer lifestyle than to suffer in home country for the sake of nationalism because what will I get by staying in the home country for the sake of nationalism? Nothing. Why will I choose to suffer while earning less or nothing when I can avoid suffering and earn more?

          Leaving Philippines forever to migrate to other countries is perfectly legal, you’re unable to provide even 1 legal basis to backup your claim.

        2. “Migrating to other countries to have better and safer lifestyle is actually an intelligent option.”

          Perhaps, but actually the decision to migrate to another location is personal and for a variety of reasons. Like when most of your loved ones are all there and you want to follow or if someone is engaged to an foreign national. Migrating to other countries though does not guarantee one will have a better and safer lifestyle.

          The decision to choose to migrate simply to have better and safer lifestyle than to suffer in home country proves nothing but an admission of surrender and the lack of confidence in one’s ability/capability for self-growth. It’s a bit of loser mentality, don’t you think?

          Why the emphasis on “to stay in your country and suffer” when you can intelligently choose not to suffer? Isn’t that equivalent to exhibiting victim mentality to which bloggers here do not subscribe to?

          Pwede na yan kasi hindi ko kaya iangat sarili ko dito!

        3. Ram, you are wrong about saying that migrating to other countries to have better and safer lifestyle is an admission of surrender and the lack of confidence in one’s ability/capability for self-growth and a bit of loser mentality because it’s really not. Staying in that country prevents growth because of heavy taxes with low salaries and such. Your country is a cesspool now and it’s not even a country worth calling home except if you’re an oligarch. Making your life hard on purpose for the sake of false nationalism when you can avoid it and make your life easier is dumb.

          “Why the emphasis on “to stay in your country and suffer” when you can intelligently choose not to suffer? Isn’t that equivalent to exhibiting victim mentality to which bloggers here do not subscribe to?” You’re wrong again. Do you really want to stay in a country which makes your life hard for no good reason? There’s a wise saying “If God has saved you out of a sewer, don’t dive back in and swim around.”.

        4. I forgot to ask you this. Does migrating to another country for better lifestyle cause enough harm to the home country for you to call emigrants traitors?

      2. As the eminent Zaxx brilliantly put it (to which I fully agree)…

        The fact is: Filipinos are NOT worth dying for. (Well maybe for resource-rich Philippines – yes; but for the residents?) Are we such special and rare specimens of the human race to be worth preserving? Ask Donald Trump of Jack Ma if they would die for a Filipino. Who in the world esteems Filipinos that highly to actually die for them? With his categorical denials, not even our national hero Jose Rizal was actually willing to face the firing squad for the revolution he unintentionally ignited.

        Read the full article here!

  2. LOL, some people are just triggered when they are told the simple fact: Filipinos are not entitled to things, like vaccines, just because they are poor and downtrodden. If they want something, they should work for it. But even if they don’t get it, that’s really how reality works; if you’re not so lucky, you really won’t get it no matter how hard you hard. But then again, that’s why the advice, especially in business, is, keep trying. Success is not a formula, it is just something that happens at times because you work at it.

  3. There’s a vast difference between entitlement and what’s proper and appropriate. benigno can at least clarify that from the tone of this article.

    1. I see it this way: Benign0 reminds us how we as a country depend a lot on assistance from other countries, sometimes to the point of demanding it. It seems that some people (wokes and Yellows) demand that vaccines be given to us for free. But now that a nation they hate gives the vaccines for free, they scorn the Duterte administration for accepting them. If they also scorn the Duterte administration for not being able to make the US or European nations give the vaccines for free, that’s inappropriate.

    2. @Chino, you nailed it. Also it is quite evident that the free market comes first and altruism a distant second. Rich countries are free to procure what they need PLUS any further buffer they feel makes their supplies secure. Poorer countries and their agents can only appeal but not direct those countries to make some of their stock available for those that have been left behind. That is proof that even COVID-19 vaccines are NOT an entitlement.

  4. This sense of entitlement is also evident when it comes to China trolling our waters and our islands. Pinoys love the woe is me attitude. They expect other countries to help them since we are outmanned and outgunned by China. Thing is when do Filipinos help other countries? What do pinoys really bring to the table internationally except cheap , desperate labor?

  5. Filipinos have to do the :”pwede na yan attitude”, because they cannot do anything about their lives.

    If foreigners, give them “garbage vaccines”…being is vaccinated by a garbage vaccine, is “pwede na yan”…

    To get vaccinated or not to get vaccinated, that is the question !

  6. @benign0, how would you categorize President Duterte’s ‘VFA for COVID-19 vaccines’ statement, is it an appeal or an entitlement?

    Same goes for Secretary Bello’s ‘Ph Nurses for Vaccines’ offer to UK and Germany. (Contrary to the President’s ‘openness’, he seems too shy to admit the statement, which, he later denied and clarified when an English Ambassador made that info public. The UK government declines the proposal.)

    Depending on whom you ask, the government’s proposal in exchange for doses of vaccine could either be a diplomatic barter or simply a straight-forward blackmail. Still, there are others who go for the extreme and see the move (of Sec. Bello) as nearing the area of human trafficking. So is it an appeal or an entitlement?

    1. You can think of it as good old-fashioned trade – the sort of bartering that preceded money.
      However, this time, the commodity we want is vaccine, what we’re putting up for it is…human labor.

      Unpalatable as it may seem, unfortunately either our government is simply doing what it is already accustomed to, or they realize that we don’t have any other item that we can put up for trade, that our “partners” want.

    2. Agree with Amir Al Bahr. Just trade. It wasn’t an appeal because there was something in exchange on offer. As such, there was no suggestions of entitlement to what was being requested.

  7. The words of the President, as quoted from the Philippine News Agency, goes:

    “Ang kanila lang kasi ay iyong Visiting Forces Agreement, matatapos na. Ngayon, ‘pag hindi ako pumayag, aalis talaga sila. Kung hindi sila maka-deliver ng maski na lang (They know the Visiting Forces Agreement will already expire. If the termination of the deal takes effect, they must leave the country. If they cannot deliver even with just) a minimum of 20 million vaccines, ah they better get out. No vaccine, no stay here.”

    https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1125729

    There’s no need to sugarcoat. If we are to consider how the site applies the concept of entitlement to the larger Filipino society, I’d say that the President must be guilty too.

    If we must ask, is the President making an appeal? No. Is he making a barter? No. Is it an offering where there’s freedom of choice? No.

    It wasn’t even your usual ‘quid pro quo’ where both parties involved are agreeable. It’s a strong message of a demand ‘to give it or else face the consequence’. In other words, how the site conveys it, it’s really an entitlement!

    The existence of VFA has been there for quite some time even before the pandemic so it wasn’t really an offer but rather a threat of its abrogation in exchange even with just “a minimum of 20 million vaccines”.

    But, am I faulting the action of the President? I am not! As the national leader, President Duterte is just considering applying diplomacy. If you must, then, you call it strong-armed diplomacy that might (or might not) work. Diplomacy being the application of tact and intelligence in pursuit of the National Interest. Indeed, in desperate times, “kapit sa patalim” is also a filipino expression that comes to mind even in our national leaders. Hoping, that, the end will justify the means.

    Without sugarcoating,

  8. Are we willing to sustain huge long term economic losses in the name of the much invoked but vague concept of free enterprise? Not to mention resorting to “less civilized” ways of trading? There is a lot to be gained and improved by sharing certain types of technology than keeping them for the sake of business.

    Btw some of the foreign masters seem to impose on us ‘pwede na yan’ leaders. Then appear to give bread crumbs in the form of aid and assistance. Except when it really matters.

    1. Therein lies the problem with the Philippines. It lacks a tradition of scientific and technological achievement which is why it is forever reliant on foreign capital to get anything done.

      Private enterprise are well within their rights to protect their technology and are under no obligation to share it with “the less fortunate”. Even if “breadcrumbs” are all Filipinos get and they believe they are entitled to more or better than that, well, either way that is all they will get. They will have to step up building capital indigenously if they aspire to count themselves amongst the great nations of the world in the future.

  9. Okay where do I even begin Benign0? I guess the 0 in your pen name really serves you huh? Well, let’s start with some issues.

    The trouble with this state of affairs is that there is no critical mass — literally — in the Philippines to support credible calls for good enough at a mass scale. The ethic is just not there. Philippine society is the way it is and, as a result, left behind by all the rest because of a missing chip in Filipinos’ collective intellect that renders them incapable of aspiring to excellence through innovation and doing things differently. Whilst little mom-and-pop companies that once made bicycles in Korea now export wondrous works of engineering that now compete head-to-head with the best of those made in Germany and Japan, the Philippines’ industries languish in abject mediocrity, unable to compete even within the domestic market.

    Do you want to know the big difference between South Korea, Germany, and Japan from the Philippines as to why their industries beat the Philippines? The Philippine local businesses have been pampered for TOO LONG by Carlos P. Garcia’s protectionist policies, Ferdinand E. Marcos’ protectionist policies, and the current 1987 Constitutition. I guess you’ll never understand it so I decided to write this for you: Filipinos Lack A Tradition Of Achievement In Sciences And Technology Because Of PROTECTIONISM Then again, I doubt it you will get it.

    Even if the best of them COVID-19 vaccine options were actually available in the Philippines, it is unlikely that the way they will be distributed will do justice to them. Using the Philippines’ public transport situation as an example again, it is like how importing the most modern buses and trains in the world won’t matter if the system that they will be put into service within sucks. Think of it for a minute — modern buses that cost 200 thousand dollars a piece deployed to jeepney routes. It’ll be an utter waste!

    Once again, it’s the SYSTEM that’s the problem. It’s time to really UPGRADE the system in order to upgrade how people do things. You want to retire jeepneys, right? Well, it’s time to upgrade the VERY SYSTEM that allowed jeepneys to thrive in the first place.

    You may want to read this one for a start: Well-Behaved Filipinos In First World Countries VS. Dysfunctional Filipinos In The Philippines – It’s All About Systems!

    Hmmm I guess you’ll never get it, right, Benign0 that The Philippines Is Stuck In The “Pwede Na Yan” Mentality Because Of The CURRENT SYSTEM

    1. To understand the fundamental flaw in the idea of the Philippines’ relying on a strategy of counting on “foreign investment” to rescue its people from their own self-created wretchedness, it is important to understand the equally fundamental definition of poverty. Quite simply:

      Poverty is a habitual entering into commitments one is inherently unable to honour.

      Whenever we talk about — no, harp about — needing a lot more of this precious “foreign investment” to give Filipinos a chance to get their act together and onto the road to some sort of imagined future prosperity, we simply raise the really hard question:

      How did we end up with such a pathetic need for this precious foreign juice to begin with?

      In short, The Philippines is one big SQUANDERED foreign investment.

      1. Wrong benign0. If you really aspire for excellence you start demanding it from President Duterte. He is mandated by laws to pursue excellence because he’s got the budget, manpower and big offices to create bigger change that’s making a big impact to this nation. You should have suggested to him what he should have done in his first year and evaluate them now if excellence and innovation are really what he is aiming for in his 6 years in office. Why? Because he is supposed to be on top of them all.

        Why would you bother demanding excellence from most of ordinary private Filipinos? Isn’t that asking for a moon? Or are you just fooling around? You can’t control what they think. Reality check most of them are just thinking trying to improve their individual lives and their families lot that they can control. If they cannot make other things to happen because they are not in charge and in control then they cannot. That’s it, that’s fine and that’s reasonable. I have seen many professional Filipinos who worked so hard in their own craft since their younger years until they retire and they are excellent in what they do, but that’s just not enough to make this country prosper. It still starts from the top because they got big money and resources and they can move mountains.

        I suggest you should also change your standard of excellence and innovation because these two concepts don’t discrimate while you, on the other hand, apply these two partially when you are comfortable criticizing the whole poor Filipinos, while leaving these two concepts when it comes to your highly favored politicians who are supposed to be the forefront of these two. If you talk big things make sure you apply these to all and not just to selected groups in order for you to appear consistent and believable in your words.

      2. Indeed, @Jason, demanding excellence from ordinary Filipinos is “asking for a moon”. And this is why the Philippines remains the same old society where Pwede-Na-Yan is the national motto.

        There is no shortage of people “demanding excellence” from a president across all partisan camps. Indeed, that’s pretty much Philippine Politics 101 in a nutshell. People demand and politicians promise. But is excellence ever achieved? Interesting question right?

        The trouble with Filipinos is that they believe the problem of the lack of an ethic of excellence in them can be solved by a sitting president. The fact they seem to be unable to handle is that ethic needs to come from within and manifest itself in their culture.

        1. Of course it can be solved by a sitting president benign0. In history, much of the extraordinary changes happened to a country was guided heavily by a president or leader for that matter such as China, South Korea, Russia and Singapore. China for example had an advanced culture for centuries and most of its people are natural entrepreneurs but only in recent decades they achieved greater momentum in its developments. It’s solely because of the sitting president who moved mountains.

          If you expect problem with the Philippines can be solved by ordinary Filipinos and in faster pace then you are going nowhere. You are only there to criticize but as to a concrete solution, your solution won’t get anywhere. Pwede-na-yan mentality was developed due to lack of inspiration by leaders. If leadership is good in the Philippines, that mentality would slowly fade away. Sadly until now, Philippine president falls short to inspire Filipinos in reminding them to be excellent in what they do. Instead, pwede-na-yan mentality continues to thrive in his administration. And ordinary Filipinos are the ones greatly affected.

        2. There is no shortage of people “demanding excellence” from a president across all partisan camps. Indeed, that’s pretty much Philippine Politics 101 in a nutshell. People demand and politicians promise. But is excellence ever achieved? Interesting question right?

          The trouble with Filipinos is that they believe the problem of the lack of an ethic of excellence in them can be solved by a sitting president. The fact they seem to be unable to handle is that ethic needs to come from within and manifest itself in their culture.

          Once again, the real problem is the SYSTEM. That’s why Ramos and Arroyo wanted to change the faulty 1987 Constitution. That’s why Duterte now wants to reform the constitution. Many Filipinos today lack a sense of achievement because of the current system. Again, I guess you want to change the people but not the system, right, Benign0?

      3. In history, much of the extraordinary changes happened to a country was guided heavily by a president or leader for that matter such as China, South Korea, Russia and Singapore.

        @Jason, nah I don’t think so. Those countries you cited have long histories of excellence that encompass leaders and entire empires. You can appreciate that missing Excellence Chip in the Philippines’ collective motherboard when you consider that there is no indigenous Filipino word for “efficiency” or “precision”. These are two engineering concepts that are completely missing in native culture because Filipinos lack a strong engineering/scientific tradition both of which are key foundational pillars of modern progress.

        1. Actually they don’t have long history of excellence that encompass their culture. They are just lucky to have brilliant leaders that persuade their people to do excellent things and make use of what they have, even pushing them to their limits.

          Whether or not Filipinos have no indigenous words for efficiency and precision, we are greatly influenced by those who have such as US and Japan. We have internet and global market to explore and compare. Our leaders just need to act accordingly to what is right and lead the people by example in doing excellent jobs which I don’t see the current administration is doing what’s urgently necessary. Pwede na yan mentality always finds some room in this administration which leaves Filipino people uninspired.

        2. You can see the pattern in countries that have made advanced progress somehow (even at the expense of their subjects becoming slaves), they have been led by Monarchs, Emperors and, to a degree, have been led by Dictators.

          You cannot underestimate nor ignore the impact and influence of leaders in every country’s rise and fall. The past presented us with Monarchs and Emperors, ruling for ages, so powerful to demand every whim, allowing them to develop and industrialize in various aspects of arts, sciences and industries that brought histories of excellence and achievements in those countries. Monuments and temples were decreed to be built in their honor. The Great Wall of China wasn’t built because the Chinese people themselves wanted it. They were forced to obey as slaves.

          (Here, we don’t have huge historical monuments and temples (save for the rice terraces, borne not of slavery but of community) and we practically started our history as slaves. We have only little information in our pre-colonial past. What we might have in the past, we don’t know really. GRP is even advocating to abandon the indigenous language.)

          In modern times, we have the story of the Silicon Valley. What it has become today is not possible without some support coming from leaders, both from the US Government, who allotted funds for serious and even ridiculous inventions and the private sectors, known as Venture Capitalists, that helped create start up tech companies, such as HP and Apple.

          To generate the $1,350 in capital to start Apple, Steve Jobs had to sell his Volkswagen microbus, and Steve Wozniak his Hewlett-Packard calculator. Will Apple expand and grow without some support after the $1,350 in capital have been toast? If Jobs and Wozniak, still having their invention, were born in the Philippines and without the benefit of some form of funding from the Venture Capitalists, they will probably only become other unknown wasted talents like the rest.

          In summary, if the people themselves is the problem (or half of it) for ‘entering into commitments’ and ‘inherently unable to honour’, what’s the government there for when size – for real-world practicality, as far as economy and power – does matter?

      4. They are just lucky to have brilliant leaders that persuade their people to do excellent things and make use of what they have, even pushing them to their limits.

        @Jason: So you think progress has a lot to do with being “just lucky”? Interesting concept.

        Human progress was driven by scientific and technological achievement. Perhaps war too had a strong contribution to that seeing that many key innovations we enjoy now — the Internet being one of them — were motivated by military agendas.

        On that, it can be noted that the Philippines lacks that as well — a strong military tradition. This also contributes to explaining why no such engineering tradition and no drive to WIN at a global scale has taken root in Filipino culture.

        1. Those that have ‘technological and scientific achievements’ had to attract foreign talent. Not everything they have were native. Some even had expeditions in ancient and foreign cultures just to get information and make those achievements.

        2. Yes, they got lucky because they got leaders who fit into their system and managed it well. Them visionaries who walk the talk. Progress is the result of such doing. Their ordinary people just followed where their leaders leading them to do.

          All those scientific and technological achievement, innovation, industrialization and military prowess are all started by the initiative and capital sufficiency as well as work ethics of government to make them a reality. If one is an ordinary person who has brilliant ideas and capabilities but lacks budget and exposure and without the support of government, it won’t get him very far. Thus, government is in control, is the main driver of country’s progress and development headed by the head of State and Government especially for a poor country that wanting a faster pace of development. Sadly, in the Philippines, I have yet to see that kind of leader who inspires people that in him he proves already he is the main example of excellence and and innovation you are talking about where people are motivated to follow.

      5. @Benign0

        Do you want to know how the Philippines became a huge squandered foreign investment? Think about the following – Carlos P. Garcia’s “Filipino First”, the Marcos Years, and the protectionism clause continued by the Yellowtard Constitution. Just think who would want to invest if they can only own up to 40% in certain sectors. Why should businesses choose to improve IF there’s so little competition to go up with? Besides, inflation is a product of SUPPLY AND DEMAND. Too few supply and TOO MUCH DEMAND means prices will NATURALLY GO UP.

        To understand the fundamental flaw in the idea of the Philippines’ relying on a strategy of counting on “foreign investment” to rescue its people from their own self-created wretchedness, it is important to understand the equally fundamental definition of poverty. Quite simply:

        Again you get the wrong idea. First and foremost – Lee Kwan Yew encountered a Singapore full of bad elemetns. You can’t believe Singapore was once poorer than the Philippines. Deng Xiaoping also had a China once poorer than the Philippines. Taiwan and Vietnam were once poorer than the Philippines. Guess what? They decided to open up to foreign investments and made their local business atmosphere more competitive.

        Besides, I still find your plan in this post to be rather absurd:

        The Philippines, a Third World country then as it is now, remains one such country encouraged to “open its markets”. But open up the market to foreign capital and foreign goods in a society that inherently lacks a track record of innovation and suffers a deficit of entrepreneurial inclination to begin with, and you get an addiction to all things foreign (foreign capital, foreign incomes, foreign substance) and a vision for developing an indigenous capability to create these things atrophied beyond all hope of recovery. Not all societies are created equal just as not all people are destined to be wealthy.

        Whatever the case and whatever the excuses of the past, the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented economic crisis it is creating brings back home a clear message. Third World countries like the Philippines need to work at becoming truly independent. Specifically, the Philippines needs to learn to sustain its population primarily through domestic production and investment. Can’t do that they say? Well that just means there are too many Filipinos than can be sustained by their domestic product. Tough luck, right?

        Indeed, the enormous population of the Philippines itself is a product of foreign capital. It is sustained by imported food, imported medical technology, and imported incomes. It is sustained by money merely passing through the country and not money generated by wealth created within its shores through productivity gains brought about by innovation and its conversion into capital that is employed in producing things domestically.

        To quote, you really would be trying to think about forcing the Philippines to rely primarily on domestic income. Do you know your current country Australia is also FDI-reliant? Do you know why you better politics in Australia. It’s because of the PARLIAMENTARY SYTEM.

        Then again, I guess you choose, as Orion says, to be as clueless as the Benign0 of Hacienda Luisita.

        1. Your big assumption here is that Filipinos will run with any “foreign investment” thrown them. That is a BIG assumnption.

          So far, history shows that throwing money at Filipinos does not work. Capital infused by foreigners into the Philippine economy creates jobs — but does it necessarily translate to increased domestic expertise or wherewithal to build domestic business that then could compete?

          China’s Huwawei and Korea’s Samsung, for example, are now giving Western multinationals a run for the money. These are companies that absorbed the capital injected by foreign investment into their countries and built domestic brands that then started to eat their former creditors’ lunches.

          Also, check your facts. I never discouraged foreign investment. My thesis is that foreign investment is just a means to become domestically self sufficient. And that involves going beyond merely enjoying the employment created by foreign capital.

          Keep trying though.

    2. Here’s a message to all of you dogmatic parliamentary pushers:

      Get this through your thick skulls: without a fundamental reform in the people, any new system introduced to them will simply be gamed to resemble the old one. Filipinos are simply unwilling as a collective to change at a fundamental level, and are thus resigned to relying on leaders to do the change for them.

      1. @Amir Al Bahr

        First and foremost – it’s systems first that grant the reforms. It’s the SYSTEM that’s making Filipinos the way they are in the Philippines vs. Filipinos abroad who are doing better. It’s all about the systems.

      2. Amir,

        What is that fundamental reform you are talking about? Do you really expect them to figure out how to change themselves? Again and as I have said to benign0 earlier, if you expect those poor people to change themselves you will end up going nowhere. There has to be some kind of an aggressive intervention from government or private sectors or collaboration of these two who possessed eminent power, authority, and education in order to persuade or encourage these people to change themselves.

        There’s a reason why remote tribal communities in the world continue to do what their ancestors did centuries ago even in this modern era. That’s because there was no proper intervention from civilized persons to compel them to change the way they do.

      3. Even the world’s top multinational corporations spend hundreds of millions in building a winning culture. It all begins there. Great culture attracts the best talent and creates an environment where said talent delivers productively.

        You could see that the Philippines, at the moment, possesses none of the above

        1. Technically, isn’t what you’re trying to say is something what has been commented on above about the story of the Silicon Valley, where the US government spending millions on potential innovative technologies (even crazy ideas) and the Venture Capitalists investing in promising start up tech companies?

          To wit:

          Mark Zuckerburg, before Facebook, was just your ordinary student (from Harvard, well…not so ordinary) using an app together with some netizen buddies rating college girls whether who’s hot or not. The original app was only intended for the school’s profiling of the students till the app grew with more users. But it did not grow with Zuckerberg on its own as we know it today without some intervention from someone who was already big at the time. The man behind Napster, Sean Parker, saw the potential and helped transform Facebook from a startup that was then tiny but would go on to become the biggest social network in the world. He became the founding president of Facebook.

          (Zuckererg even before he became big has the culutre of being a cheat, having spent the personal money (intended for marketing Facebook) of an associate, Eduardo Saverin, “on personal expenses over the summer”. He also cut Saverin from Facebook and diluted his stake.)

          On the cultural front, our asian neighbors show us examples how their Government strategize to influence culture, winning hearts and minds, through cultural exports with economic benefits.

          By now, K-Pop is a world-wide phenomenon which makes Japan’s J-Pop green with envy (but still king in Anime). Musically, K-Pop is no extra-ordinary different from the styles of Western music that they’re imitating but more of Eye Candy. But still, South Korea calls it Hallyu. It did not happen without the government funding behind them.

          Like the Koreans, the Japanese has its own ‘Cool Japan Project’ as part of its overall brand strategy, aiming to disseminate Japan’s attractiveness and allure as a unique culture throughout the world that “encompasses everything from games, manga, anime, and other forms of content, fashion, commercial products, Japanese cuisine, and traditional culture to robots, eco-friendly technologies, and other high-tech industrial products”. Its origin started in 1980, following the emergence of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Japan began to increase its nation branding efforts. It’s Japan’s version of soft cultural hegemony…Pokemon Hegemon!

          (Incidentally, MNL48, a Philippine sister group of Japan’s AKB48, is one of the new groups formed through a project by the publicly funded Cool Japan initiative.)

          In a way you are correct, we don’t have things like these initiatives here. We’re counting on the people to change attitudes by themselves but not so for those who hold the power and wherewithal to make the socio-economic conditions change.

        2. I don’t know how corporations can be morally invested in building a productive culture in a way that will not threaten the corporation’s own existence. If you get what I mean. If the talented are only attracted to a comfortable and wealthy environment, what good would that be?

    3. One of the best debates I’ve seen here in a long time!!! This is what GRP should be all about. Iron sharpening iron.

      Well about the SYSTEM: economic protectionism is essential for a young nation to build up it’s muscle before letting the real stallions in. It should only be for a couple of decades, after which the locals should be strong enough to compete with first world mega corporations. That is – if we want to have strong local brands at the onset.

      The problem with Filipinos is that they lacked a key element that the Tiger nations had: a visionary national industrial roadmap backed by a solid resolve to excel in a given area. No great mind really thought the future of the country through.

      The system itself is not the core issue. If so, why did the Chinoys prosper irrespective of the political/economic system/state of the Philippines? The difference really lies in core mentality: a Chinoy would think: what business should I start? While a regular native Pinoy would ask: Where can I get a good paying job with good perks and benefits? If it were the other way round, 90% Chinoys and 10% brown local natives – PH will probably be a powerhouse economy by now.

      The mindset to save and invest in capital to set up home-grown tech factories is not in the blood. The normal Pinoy would rather use the money to feed mouths, buy diapers/medicine, and enjoy life simply importing all the tech stuff the world can offer. Why make when you can import, right?

      Filipinos have been programmed to be good laborers (if not, slaves). That has been the upbringing for centuries. It will be difficult to outgrow that. Exposure to first-world companies may help wean us out of that mentality. So I agree removing protectionism at this stage will be good for changing Filipinos.

      It’s been a chicken-egg scenario for so long. We should open up the country even if it means killing our small struggling industries – if only to awaken Pinoys to the first-world mindset. But I doubt it will succeed to create a home-grown brand that can rival the likes of Tesla, Lenovo, Samsung. Likely Pinoys will remain in their comfort zone – not to be tech/industry leaders – but happily remaining as laborers of multinational corporations that will flood the local economic landscape once we throw the doors wide open.

      At the end of the day: The Filipino is happy and content to enjoy a pwede na yan existence – at least they are still ALIVE. Being able to smile amidst the suffering and humble existence – our resilience! That is probably what will define Filipinos for a very long time – whatever SYSTEM they find themselves in. The pig will always wallow in the mud – because that’s his DNA. But of course, there will be that exception to the rule. Hopefully… a Filipino singularity (the likes of Rizal) that will grace the nation once in a hundred years.

  10. Here’s what the late great Teddy Benigno has to say to fools carrying on about Filipino dysfunction being curable by a mere “change in the system”…

    “Now, about our neighbor countries succeeding economically because they have a parliamentary government. That’s what Con-Ass is foisting, isn’t it? That’s a laugh.

    “They succeeded not because they had parliamentary but because they dreamed early in the 20th century, and worked like a driven demon to achieve their dream. They succeeded because their culture was different from ours, a building culture, an entrepreneurial culture, a community culture. They would not allow America and the West to widen the gap. They sent tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of their best students to the US and Europe. There they would personally touch the philosopher’s stone. By this time, the stone was defined as science, technology, math, engineering, modern management, the latest factory and manufacturing techniques, the magic of cyberspace and the Internet. China was not parliamentary. Japan of the Meijis was not parliamentary.

    “The parliamentary system of government had nothing to do with ‘the Asian miracle’ of economic success at all. Not at all.”

    Read the full article here! 😀

  11. Well Benigno… how can the culture be influenced to make that change? There has to be a catalyst. People hardly change on their own independent of their environment and the system in which they operate. What will shape the culture?

    1. Yes, good question. The way forward is to move past denial of the truth about our society and have a good discussion on how to answer that question .

      1. I believe you have already an answer for this question here somewhere. If I am not mistaken, you said that “strong leaders change people’s culture”. Is that correct?

      2. The problems are evident and there’s no doubt that culture is part of it. It’s just hard to believe how anybody could stand to see the same problem everyday without trying to find solutions. Is it so unusual to want to solve it? Whenever you ask the response is always “walang budget or pera”. It’s as if everything is dictated by money! They can’t think their way out of it even with enough education. It has always has to do with spending. But I think a large part is also poor planning. Something is really not adding up.

      3. I believe you have already an answer for this question here somewhere. If I am not mistaken, you said that “strong leaders change people’s culture”. Is that correct?

        @D!: yup that’s part of the solution. You need somebody with a big boot to kick Filipinos’ asses — not a lame political party with a sissy narrative that makes Filipinos feel “special” or “blessed”.

  12. To benigno or to whoever has the intelligence to explain on the discussion of cultural change.

    I saw this youtube video of the ‘Largest Philippine Steel Mill in South East Asia Sold by Pres. Fidel Ramos’ and what became of it. It also reminded me of another vital government project that would have help boost the country’s move towards industrialization, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

    Taking into consideration of things like the above and what have happened to them, who do you think really should initiate that change first and why? The people being lead or the leaders who direct and manage the affairs of the state?

    1. Since the government consists mainly of people like Ramos, can we ever rely on them to make the change we need? If you place a few a good men, won’t they be overpowered by the others?

    2. Government’s job is to provide the environment and infrastructure on which its citizens can develop themselves and their enterprise to their full potential. The key there is potential and therefore the question is: Do Filipinos as a people posses the potential to be world-class?

      1. Filipinos as a people don’t posses the potential to be world-class. Reason: The prerequisite of high quality education

  13. @Ziggy
    Hmm… MNL48, a group of 48++ unknown young Filipina high-school girls coming from various parts of the country put together that really can sing, (in full acapella without the trappings of electronic sounds to hide any flaws), is publicly funded by the Japanese people?! Wow!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAlcV5f0WT4

  14. I don’t agree that removing the “60%”-protectionism in the constitution will improve the country. Those who believes in such notion is very likely a rightwing nut… 🙂

    My solution is, and has always been, to raise the taxes and to raise the spending on education.

    1. Even with “high quality education” at their disposal though, I mean how many Ateneans or UP alumni do you see out there inventing the proverbial longer lasting light bulb or putting up world-class brands that have the potential of eating the lunches of the likes of Samsung or even Huwawei, say, 5-10 years from now?

      1. My answer: I don’t know. But I will bet that if there by overnight was high quality education today then by 10 years from now we would not only see alot more highly skilled workers, researchers/scientists but also a more wise people making wise decisions. All this in the benefit of the country becoming world-class.

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