Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Will Juan de la Cruz ever get it?

“[W]e … appear to be stuck in place, held back by deep divisions and endless political bickering, and seemingly condemned to watching our neighbors pass us by, one by one.” [Falling behind, again (?), Cielito F. Habito, No Free Lunch, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 10th Oct 2017]

The wife won’t tire reminding the writer, “don’t look around to pin blame on another.” We all know that but the human condition is such that man’s instinct is to protect and defend one’s self-esteem. Think Trump and his the-best-defense-is-offense tweets 24/7 and the brazen lies that will make Lyin’ Ted a saint, if not Crooked Hilary straight.

“To say that we all struggle with confirmation bias is not to say that some individuals don’t overcome it better than others or that some aren’t closer to seeing the truth of things better than others. Objective reality exists, truth matters, and we have to pursue them with purpose and without fear. But in our present moment, truth, including truth that unsettles us, has far too often become subordinate to justifying and defending at all costs our own, often unsound, preconceptions … You can see that in others. But can you see it in yourself?” [Seeing Trump through a glass, darkly; Peter Wehner, The New York Times, 7th Oct 2017; Wehner is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, served in the previous three Republican administrations]

The writer couldn’t have said it better. Wehner continues: “But here’s the thing: What’s easy to see in others is hard to see in ourselves. I can assure myself that my intellectual integrity is superior to theirs, yet in my honest moments I recognize that I struggle with these same human frailties and flaws … I have some of the same mental habit that I’m critical of in others.

“When I served the George W. Bush White House, I believed before the war began that it was justified … These suppositions caused me to ignore, much longer than I should have, the problems inherent in our occupation strategy … I relay all this because confirmation bias is far more difficult to overcome than most of us like to admit. We are ever in search of data that confirms what we want to believe. ‘Illusions is the first of all pleasures,’ Voltaire said.

“I am highly critical of President Trump, and that puts me at odds with a vast majority of my fellow Republicans.”

The writer is highly critical of Juan de la Cruz. Because in his heart of hearts he believes we are better than this – still underdeveloped and the regional laggard and most recently overtaken by Brunei and Vietnam in competitiveness. But we see it through the prism of the war on poverty and, more recently, the war on drugs. And to be highly critical of Juan de la Cruz puts the writer at odds with a vast majority of Filipinos.

We must know by now that Malaysia, for example, did not share our short-term prism when they addressed rural poverty. Instead of parceling out land they pooled them to attain economies of scale. They could see beyond the horizon.

It is not surprising given the phenomenon of the growth versus the fixed mindset is a relatively new discovery from the social sciences. We are still held in place by Pinoy creativity or “abilidad” as well as our moral uprightness – as in holier-than-thou. And we have yet to recognize they are a manifestation of our fixed mindset.

It reinforces our backward orientation and our inability to be forward-looking. Worse is we’ve never demonstrated foresight. And are now debating, for instance: If federalism is the solution, what is the problem? But we like the low-hanging fruit. OFW remittances and the BPO industry instead of industrialization in tandem with infrastructure development.

We keep highlighting that electricity in PH is the most expensive in the region. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. We never understood that the problem is development; again, because we lack foresight. And why we fall into the trap of debating which comes first, the chicken or the egg.

The latest UN Sustainable Development Goals have recognized this challenge. To quote from an earlier post: “[T]he SDGs can be a weapon for growth and sustainability. The point is how to fulfill the SDGs through a more pro-active and forward-looking national development program.” [SDG 9 commits PHL to ‘inclusive, sustainable industrialization,’ Rene E. Ofreneo, BusinessMirror, 30th Aug 2017]

“However, one of the goals can also be an instrument for the realization of the other SDGs. This is SDG 9, which commits nations to ‘build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

“In other words, infrastructure development, industrialization and innovation … will pave the way for the realization of the other goals.”

It takes a growth mindset to develop the ability to look beyond the horizon. Every nation started out poor. But that is why there is such a thing as development.  But we can’t imagine and visualize a virtuous circle as in an ecosystem. That is too far out for Juan de la Cruz? Why? [And why the blog always closes with the quotes below. They aren’t meant to bore us, they are for us to reflect on.]

He is parochial and insular; hierarchical and paternalistic; relies on political patronage and dynasties and oligarchy. That is why we are constantly amid a perfect storm.

And why we are defined by crab mentality, i.e., we can never ever prioritize given the elements that consume us. And which is confirmed by another phenomenon, the irrationality of man. “People give into biases when making decisions, and that human miscalculation can come with serious consequences.” [Misbehaving: The Story of Behavioral Economics by Richard Thaler, 2015; Thaler is the winner of the 2017 Nobel prize in economics]

In the meantime, the elite class – and going by the admonition of the wife, that includes the writer, given he spent the first 20 years of his career in the Philippines and represented the employers’ group – must defend how they’ve called the shots for decades.

“Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.” [We are ruled by Rizal’s ‘tyrants of tomorrow,’ Editorial, The Manila Times, 29th Dec 2015]

“As a major component for the education and reorientation of our people, mainstream media – their reporters, writers, photographers, columnists and editors – have an obligation to this country . . .” [Era of documented irrelevance: Mainstream media, critics and protesters, Homobono A. Adaza, The Manila Times, 25th Nov 2015]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” [William Pollard, 1911-1989, physicist-priest, Manhattan Project]

“Development [is informed by a people’s] worldview, cognitive capacity, values, moral development, self-identity, spirituality, and leadership . . .” [Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, Nelson Parker, 2014]

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Juan de la Cruz: Is he unreformable?

Which simply means he is incorrigible and unchangeable. Consider: “The latest WEF Global Competitiveness Index showed two countries in ASEAN – Brunei and Vietnam – have overtaken the Philippines to take the fifth and sixth spots in the region, respectively.” [NCC seeks faster reforms to boost competitiveness, Richmond Mercurio, philstar.com, 29th Sep 2017]

“It seems to me that, yes, we are changing, but we are resetting our social, cultural, and political foundations to lower, inferior levels. Six years of what’s happening today will change us, especially the young, but regretfully not for the better.” [Yes, we are changing: Backwards, Benjamin R. Punongbayan, BusinessWorld, 27th Sep 2017]

Yet we recognize that we must reform. “We simply cannot afford to let up in our efforts to improve processes, introduce reforms, and make the country more competitive because other countries are also working hard.” [Mercurio, op. cit.]

“Who are we? Such a question can be answered from different lenses. Let’s confine our conversation to the Filipino values system. What is our values system and how does it work? This may not sound new because we are characteristically known as hospitable, loyal, patient, resilient (so said also some foreign observers after Hainan in Tacloban). We rely on the goodness of God, we say bahala na. Wrongly or right, we believe in fate, in luck or suwerte at diyos na ang maglalaan, etc.

“How do we explain our action? What values are the mainsprings of our behavior? We justify our digging deep into our pockets this fiesta by the fact that our son’s new job has given a better life for our family (familia). We owe (utang na loob) this to the governor. It’s a shame (hiya) if we don’t invite him and treat him as well as we can (smooth interpersonal relations or pakikisama). This example shows that we can better explain our behavior not by referring to a single value but rather to our values system. Jesuit Filipinologist Fr. Jaime Bulatao lists four major Filipino values — familia, hiya, utang na loob and pakikisama. All the rest of the values in the values system are secondary to these four major ones.” [Who are we Filipinos (?), Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, The Manila Times, 24th Apr 2015]

We can explain how we behave and why but can we reform? The writer covered the Asia region – including Communist China – for 10 years and Central and Eastern Europe – formerly under Soviet rule – the last 14 years. And in both regions, he witnessed how people can demonstrate a growth as opposed to a fixed mindset. China and the Asian Tigers have figured out and traversed the journey from poverty to prosperity. And while not as dramatic, countries once under Soviet rule have likewise demonstrated a growth mindset.

“‘If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve,’ Debbie Millman counseled in one of the best commencement speeches ever given … Far from Pollyanna platitude, this advice actually reflects what modern psychology knows about how belief systems about our own abilities and potential fuel our behavior and predict our success. Much of that understanding stems from the work of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, synthesized in her remarkably insightful Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

“One of the most basic beliefs we carry about ourselves … has to do with how we view and inhabit what we consider to be our personality. A ‘fixed mindset’ assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled. A ‘growth mindset,’ on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.” [Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives, Maria Popova,www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/29]

But let’s get back to PH. “Even worse is that those who have an existing business in the Philippines are now planning their exit strategies including a large BPO company which employs more than three thousand call center agents. The exodus is not confined to American and European companies either. Last month, the Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines announced that several of its member companies involved in manufacturing are moving to Vietnam. They cited peace and order issues, rising costs and difficulty in doing business in the Philippines as the reasons.

“All these will manifest itself in lower manufacturing activities, a deceleration in capital formation, and weakening export earnings in the years to come. It’s going to hurt the economy and derail the economic miracle we were all hoping for. To think, just a year ago, we were touted ‘Asia’s Brightest Star. It’s sad how the reputation of the nation plummeted so quickly, so uselessly.

“The war on drugs is doing us more damage than good. The travesty is that the killings will not even save the next generation from drug dependency nor solve the drug menace. Even MalacaƱang admits it. Instead, it will confine the next generation to a life of poverty since the killings are starving the country of the investments it badly needs to propel the economy forward. The social and economic costs of this war is more than its worth.” [Investors’ Shifting Sentiments: Numbers Don’t Lie, Andrew J. Masigan, BusinessWorld, 28th Sep 2017]

How can Juan de la Cruz embrace change? “Charles Duhigg, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, has written an entertaining book … ‘The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.’ Duhigg has read hundreds of scientific papers and interviewed many of the scientists who wrote them, and relays interesting findings on habit formation and change from the fields of social psychology, clinical psychology and neuroscience. This is not a self-help book conveying one author’s homespun remedies, but a serious look at the science of habit formation and change.

“Duhigg is optimistic about how we can put the science to use. ‘Once you understand that habits can change,’ he concludes, ‘you have the freedom — and the responsibility — to remake them. Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power becomes easier to grasp, and the only option left is to get to work.’ He also suggests that by understanding the nature of habits we can influence group behavior, turning companies into profit makers and ensuring the success of social movements.” [Timothy D. Wilson, Book Review, The New York Times, ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg, 9th Mar 2012]

On the other hand, are we in a race to the bottom to become the world’s pariah? “Palace on international call for end to killings: We will never accept dictation,” Ian Nicolas Cigaral, philstar.com, 29th Sep 2017.

Because we value sovereignty ... including driving investors away ... to Vietnam. Is Juan de la Cruz unreformable?

We are so inward-looking [think Mindanao and why we are a nation divided – in the name of religion?] that we are unable to internalize a growth mindset despite spinning down the abyss.

Which should then not surprise the NCC how thankless a job it has. Let us not forget Brunei and Vietnam aren’t the first ones to have overtaken PH.

Competition, as in winning, is survival … It is a habit as much as losing is … And why tribes either thrive or perish – like organisms as Darwin taught the world.

Too bad so sad ... It will get worse before it gets better for Juan de la Cruz ...

“Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.” [We are ruled by Rizal’s ‘tyrants of tomorrow,’ Editorial, The Manila Times, 29th Dec 2015]

“As a major component for the education and reorientation of our people, mainstream media – their reporters, writers, photographers, columnists and editors – have an obligation to this country . . .” [Era of documented irrelevance: Mainstream media, critics and protesters, Homobono A. Adaza, The Manila Times, 25th Nov 2015]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” [William Pollard, 1911-1989, physicist-priest, Manhattan Project]

“Development [is informed by a people’s] worldview, cognitive capacity, values, moral development, self-identity, spirituality, and leadership . . .” [Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, Nelson Parker, 2014]

Saturday, September 30, 2017

“A well-educated citizenry is an economic and social necessity”

That’s lifted from the McKinsey & Company, Social Sector Report of September 2017: “How to improve student educational outcomes: New insights from data analytics,” Mona Mourshed, Marc Krawitz, and Emma Dorn.

“Policy makers, educators, and parents all over the world want students to understand and be able to apply their knowledge of math, reading, and science. Yet improving educational outcomes has proved elusive.”

In the case of the Philippines we took the leap to K-12. But is that what’s it about? The McKinsey report presents these two findings: (1) Having the right mindsets matters much more than socioeconomic background; (2) Students who receive a blend of teacher-directed and inquiry-based instruction have the best outcomes.

“Students with a ‘growth mindset’—those who believe they can succeed if they work hard—performed 9 to 17 percent better than those with a ‘fixed mindset’—those who believe their capabilities are static.

“There are two dominant types of teaching practices. The first is ‘teacher-directed instruction,’ in which the teacher explains and demonstrates ideas, considers questions, and leads classroom discussions. The second is ‘inquiry-based teaching,’ in which students are given a more prominent role in their own learning—for example, by developing their own hypotheses and experiments.”

Are we surprised we’re the regional laggard with its attendant poverty problems? Consider: We grew up “sheltered” and “fixated.” Sheltered and fixated? Think about our way of life: parochial and insular; hierarchal and paternalistic; political patronage and dynasties; and oligarchic.

Compare that to these lessons from Malaysia: “The successful Malaysian rural development strategy through managed land schemes provides lessons for the Philippines. The rural poverty incidence in Malaysia was 1.6 percent in 2014 down from 58.7 percent in 1970 … Compare these to the Philippines’ 30 percent in 2015.

“The father of Malaysian development, former Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak, had espoused the use of modern plantation management for government land settlements to achieve high productivity and, in turn, reduce poverty. He advocated the idea of giving the best lands to those willing to work hard. There are six important lessons:

“1. Crop choice is critical for long-term income sustainability. Malaysia started with rubber as the main crop and later changed to labor-saving and more profitable oil palm. Rice, an exception for food security, was managed on mechanized estate basis; 2. Modern plantation management is key to achieving high productivity. Farm productivity in managed schemes must match that of commercial plantations; 3. Farm consolidation is crucial to achieving economies of scale in management pool, input supply, mechanization and marketing; 4. The leadership was focused on project implementation; 5. A professionalized civil service to draw project managers; 6. Commitment from the top is key to achieving results.

“The main project components were: (a) construction of irrigation canals and drains; (b) development of 6,400 ha of new land for rice irrigation; (c) rehabilitation of 3,700 ha of existing rice lands; (d) crop establishment of 8,400 ha of tree crops; (e) project main roads; and (f) palm oil mill.” [A visit to rural Malaysia, Rolando T. DyMAPPING THE FUTURE, inquirerdotnet, 11th Sep 2017]

In other words, it goes beyond giving small plots of land to farmers because landownership is the be-all and end-all – which is what PH land reform was about. There must be leadership, there must be a sense of community and the common good. But without foresight, we would not be able to imagine how such large-scale endeavors can come into being.

Sheltered and fixated must be undone before we can even be in the game. Put another way, why did we deserve a Marcos ... and today a Duterte? And tomorrow another Marcos?

Beyond the absence of foresight is our inability to benchmark our worldview against our neighbors. Perfection is not of this world. None of our neighbors were perfect. But they demonstrated how to figure out and traverse the journey from poverty to prosperity.

Sheltered and fixated means we don’t even have a fighting chance … Like ideologues we don’t truly problem-solve.

The writer is sitting in his client’s office in Sofia, Bulgaria as he writes. [As some would know, he came over to represent USAID as a volunteer, i.e., gratis. Does it explain why Trump is clueless about American exceptionalism? Or what about the Marshall Plan? But he’d rather be in bed with foreign oligarchy if not despots?] Over the last 14 years these ex-socialists (that grew up under communist rule) have called him their friend. They understood from him how even in the West higher education has been criticized by industry. And progressive enterprises took matters into their own hands. And the writer was part of the effort in his old-MNC company.

And two fundamental initiatives he has introduced to them are: (a) the primacy of a growth mindset; and (b) a dynamic in-house education and training program.

In other words, that they should not to be held back by being a losing, as opposed to a going, concern during the 8 years they had been in business. And to instead imagine and visualize that they will be a 100-million-dollar enterprise. [And today they’re beyond that milestone, by a mile.] It’s the only way for them to compete and win against Western global behemoths that have landed on their tiny nation of 7 million and, as important, to thrive as their country joined the EU.

To learn the business, they assumed the writer was going to spoon-feed them with rules. And they were “very angry” [their word] that he did not. There are no rules, only principles. And while in the classroom he would present critical theory inputs, the learning was mainly via group work designed to address specific business challenges. More to the point, they had to play a more prominent role in their own learning—for example, by developing their own hypotheses and experiments.

Today they are well respected by these Western behemoths, and have knocked on their doors a few times – offering to partner with them. If you can’t beat them, join them.

And to the writer’s surprise, his friends are not alone – in their journey to prosperity. In their hometown of 80,000, they have attained full-employment, with unemployment down to 2%. A complete turnaround from the time – not long ago – when locals would migrate to Western Europe if not the US to earn decent wages.

Five Western enterprises realized the potential of their location – being a mere 100km from the port of Varna via a well-built (read EU standard) highway – and erected manufacturing facilities. And the local government has done its part – putting up an economic development zone with all the requisite infrastructure and utilities, among others, to attract investment. A blow to the status quo. Consider: Once the writer’s friends had to wait months for the local government to approve the occupancy permit of a new production facility – delayed by the mandatory signature for their bigger power supply needs. It’s the kind of inefficiency cum tyranny they see as a carryover from the old communist regime when local commissars were the equivalent of local lords.

What a change … The new game for the writer’s friends is to be truly the preferred employer in their hometown – to ward off the competition for talent. And the writer could only smile. Like tech companies in Silicon Valley, they bus employees as far as 30km away as they widened their recruiting base beyond their town; and provide 5-star quality locker rooms to workers and fruits and beverages while at work. Wages? Up to as much as the 75th percentile in a universe that includes Western companies.

But let’s get back to PH. As the blog has pointed out, we can’t seem to shed off the reality that we are the mirror image of the status quo. Where to Philippines? The world will not wait for us to get our act together!

39 countries worry about killings, climate of impunity in Philippines,” philstar.com, 29th Sep 2017. And they include countries that lived through the Soviet gulag system, and know impunity firsthand: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine.

The writer has friends in these countries that couldn’t believe how a proud Christian nation like the Philippines has descended to what they consider inhuman. And it explains why we deserved a Marcos … today a Duterte … and tomorrow another Marcos …

“Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.” [We are ruled by Rizal’s ‘tyrants of tomorrow,’ Editorial, The Manila Times, 29th Dec 2015]

“As a major component for the education and reorientation of our people, mainstream media – their reporters, writers, photographers, columnists and editors – have an obligation to this country . . .” [Era of documented irrelevance: Mainstream media, critics and protesters, Homobono A. Adaza, The Manila Times, 25th Nov 2015]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” [William Pollard, 1911-1989, physicist-priest, Manhattan Project]

“Development [is informed by a people’s] worldview, cognitive capacity, values, moral development, self-identity, spirituality, and leadership . . .” [Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, Nelson Parker, 2014]

Sunday, September 17, 2017

70 years of underdevelopment … history

That is over two generations of “que sera, sera” and translates to a vote of confidence for the status quo. Sadly, it comes instinctively to us and why cultures pass from one generation to the next.

Even sadder, because we’re way behind the times, the challenge of innovation and competitiveness remains at the intellectual level. And has yet to come down to the heart and the gut. And why a growth mindset eludes us. Growth is about living in the real world like tots learning to crawl and then walk. And in the process tripping and falling a few times. And how unreal is it to grow up sheltered?

While a culture can be akin to a vicious circle that gives us no break – it just goes on … and on and on … It does not open itself to be challenged like an ideology. And ideologues don’t truly problem-solve. Recall the scribes and the Pharisees. And why the blog references Padre Damaso time and again.

We’re in the 21st century where innovation doesn’t reside in hierarchy nor is it confined to an expertise. And why the blog brings up Design Thinking (developed at Stanford University) which is an iteration of brainstorming – where different disciplines are pulled together to tackle problems big and small, at the micro and macro levels.

From a more pragmatic standpoint, winning is about survival. [Dr. Walter B. Cannon, Harvard University, 1915.] Think back to tribal times … And winning is a habit; conversely, without transformation, losing is a habit as well. [Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer-prize winning author.] And tribes like winning teams can beat the odds. [the Roseto phenomenon; Roseto borough, Pennsylvania.] 

How can we be enlightened? Faith, with due respect to the Church, didn’t do it. Beyond being the regional laggard and poverty-stricken, ours is a culture of impunity.

Should we be surprised that the Dalai Lama goes beyond religion and into science? Because religion cannot be a barrier in the search for truth, as he would claim.

Science presupposes knowledge which comes from education. But we lag in university rankings … And what are we doing about it if what plays out in the media represents who and what we are? The status quo is our mirror image. 

If his Holiness the Dalai Lama is out to seek the truth, how does Juan de la Cruz recognize and acknowledge its import? What if we hear from a Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr, who comes out with his daily meditation like this one on 12th Sep 2017? “Prophets, by their very nature, cannot be at the center of any social structure. Rather, they are ‘on the edge of the inside.’ They cannot be fully insiders, but they cannot throw rocks from outside either.

“They must be educated inside the system, knowing and living the rules, before they can critique what is non-essential … Jesus did this masterfully (Matthew 5:17-48). This is what Martin Luther King, Jr. taught the United States, what Gandhi taught British-occupied India, and what Nelson Mandela taught South Africa.

“Only with great respect for and understanding of the rules can a prophet know how to properly break those very same rules—for the sake of a greater purpose and value. A prophet critiques a system by quoting its own documents, constitutions, heroes, and Scriptures against its present practice. This is their secret: systems are best unlocked from inside.

“After Christianity became the established religion of the Western Empire in the fourth century, the priestly mentality pretty much took over in both East and West, and prophets almost disappeared. When the Church held so much power, prophets were too threatening to the status quo. The clergy were at the top of the hierarchy in the full company of their patrons—kings and princes—and even began to dress like them. Emperors convened and presided over the first seven Councils of the Church. What does this tell us?

“St. Francis of Assisi saw this problem in the thirteenth century and called people to live on the edge—of the Church, of economy, of patriarchy, of the ‘system’—through universal solidarity and chosen simplicity. Pope Francis is evoking the same Gospel spirit … What a surprise that the ultimate establishment figure took the name of such a radical saint. It shocked the world because we do not expect prophecy from popes.”

On the other hand, why do we have to wait for 3 young people to die before we wake up to the folly of EJK? The death of thousands is acceptable? It is naked impunity! But then again, leader-dependency and hierarchy and subservience ... all are elements of our proud culture.

And so … we accepted the war on drugs as the key to development – and the war on poverty.

But then again, because of our parochial and insular bias, we take the rest of the world for granted. From the economic miracles of the Asian Tigers … to the UN Millennial Development Goals – and its latest version, the Sustainable Development Goals. Translation: The world owes us nothing and will not wait for us to get our act together.

And do we see a ray of hope?

“While President Duterte has expressed support for removing [the] economic restrictions in the Constitution, Constitutional change may take a long time. Fortunately, there is another initiative, supported by the administration, which included it in their priority legislative agenda, and that is to amend the Public Service Act and to let Congress define what the term ‘public utilities’ is under the Constitution that is subject to the 40% ownership limit to foreigners.

“If this bill also passes the Senate and becomes law, it will be the most significant and consequential economic legislation ever in the history of the Republic. It clarifies the distinction between ‘public services’ and ‘public utilities,’ which terms are often confused and makes ‘public utilities’ only a subset of ‘public services.’ It states that only the following industries may be deemed ‘public utilities’: electrical distribution, electrical transmission, water pipeline and sewerage distribution. For an industry to be classified a ‘public utility,’ it must pass a criteria, which includes being a natural monopoly, distribution to the public of a commodity or service through a network, the commodity or service must be necessary for the life and occupation of residents, and the commodity or service must be provided to the public on demand.

“A consequence of this amendment would be to remove telecommunications and transport from the list of “public utilities,” and therefore no longer subject to the Constitutional provision restricting ownership and operation to companies or entities with a majority Philippine ownership.

“The economic benefit will be huge. It will improve competition in ownership and operation of strategic industries; facilitate technology transfer; increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve service of telecom and transport companies. Also, it will greatly improve the foreign investment climate. This would lead to increased foreign investments that will generate jobs, promote innovation, and more importantly, finance the growing current account deficit.

“It will also promote good corporate governance since the restrictions would no longer result in ‘adverse selection,’ wherein only those foreign investors willing to skirt the law, will come. (It’s an open secret that the telco duopoly are effectively owned and controlled by foreign companies using legal legerdemain.) Furthermore, those foreign companies that were scared to tie up with local companies because of their host countries’ strict foreign anti-corrupt practices laws, will finally come.” [Dismantling the Post-EDSA order, Calixto V. Chikiamco, Introspective, BusinessWorld, 11th Sep 2017]

While the writer keeps his fingers crossed [and why he is committed to maintain the blog] that the foregoing initiative will come to life, he has lived long enough to recognize how we bungle things. 

For example, we can’t seem to connect the rule of law amongst the dots in the journey from poverty to prosperity. Absent foresight, creativity has no prayer. And consequently, innovation and competitiveness – and winning – too.

Consider the milestone-decisions we made over decades just to name a few: import-substitution; the sugar industry; the coconut industry; the garment industry; OFWs deployment; the BPO industry; the once white elephant we call NAIA 3; etc.; etc. [And there is no doubt you can make your own list. For example, kicking out the occupants of Clark and Subic yet the US military remains despite our posturing toward China and Russia.]

What is their common denominator? Beyond national defense, the absence of foresight both in infrastructure development and industry. And with industry there are two parts to it: (a) rent-seeking by oligarchy; and (b) the inability to move up the value chain for the rest of industry. [See above re learning to crawl and then walk.]

And when we superimpose tyranny, we are not only shooting ourselves in the foot. Are we digging our own grave? Ask the folks of the three-young people that had to die that finally woke us up?

“Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.” [We are ruled by Rizal’s ‘tyrants of tomorrow,’ Editorial, The Manila Times, 29th Dec 2015]

“As a major component for the education and reorientation of our people, mainstream media – their reporters, writers, photographers, columnists and editors – have an obligation to this country . . .” [Era of documented irrelevance: Mainstream media, critics and protesters, Homobono A. Adaza, The Manila Times, 25th Nov 2015]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” [William Pollard, 1911-1989, physicist-priest, Manhattan Project]

“Development [is informed by a people’s] worldview, cognitive capacity, values, moral development, self-identity, spirituality, and leadership . . .” [Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, Nelson Parker, 2014]