Monday, June 19, 2017

Can we get our act together?

Why is it that like clockwork we find ourselves distracted – unfocused, sidetracked and diverted – time and time again? Now we are engaged in debate if the declaration of martial law in Mindanao is legit. Or if in fact it can be extended beyond 60 days if not nationwide.

We are the New York Knicks, not the Golden State Warriors. Do we know how to play catch-up? It is playing above and beyond, not “pwede na ‘yan” or “bahala na” – which translates to what Trump calls losers.

Can we establish our true north or must we first internalize that foresight is what distinguishes the genius of man? And we cannot simply dismiss what we call the unfettered free market of the West or the curtailed freedom of the Asian Tigers. There is a middle ground that we must seek. To find his place in the sun, Juan de la Cruz must be a man of vision and values. To the writer’s grandfather, it is called backbone.

As some would know, the writer’s maternal grandfather – an admirer of Rizal – and who became a Mason but let his wife raise the children as Catholics being herself a Catholic, called out the backbone of Juan de la Cruz or the lack if not the absence of it.

Does the war on drugs qualify as our true north? What about the war against ISIS?

Indeed, Mindanao in and of itself is a complex problem. If there is anything worse than PH underdevelopment, it is Mindanao underdevelopment. Its underdevelopment magnified the sense of rejection felt by our Muslim brothers and sisters – which makes Mindanao a fertile ground for insurgency.

Yet we say they are part of us because our Constitution says so. [Do we ever ask if we sound like the scribes and the Pharisees?] It parallels our own homes: we have a maid’s room that is not equal to our room. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. A second-class citizen will behave like a second-class citizen. But we take it for granted given our hierarchical instincts.

We brought the problem of Mindanao upon ourselves as much as we brought PH underdevelopment upon ourselves. And until we take personal responsibility to find our place in the sun we shall be the laughingstock of the region if not the world.

And problem-solving is not one-dimensional as in Federalism will wipe our tears away. Especially if our values of hierarchy, paternalism, political patronage and oligarchy cannot make us commit to and live by the rule of law. Or why innovation calls for both the soft and hard sciences; while competition demands an egalitarian ethos. We can be out of sync with what the world is about at our peril.

For decades, we haven’t gotten to the root of our underdevelopment. Think Singapore. Development – read prosperity – gave their different ethnic groups a compelling reason to live together.

And while Marawi is headline news, we are debating if it is PPP or ODA. But the real challenge is, is it Build! Build! Build! or the imperative of an ecosystem – founded on infrastructure development, industrialization and competitiveness? In other words, we must connect the dots. It’s called foresight. 

We must overcome circular debates cum crab mentality – think conservatives versus liberals in the US and the UK, and who would think that the once vaunted Anglo-Saxon team will go through rough patches, while the Frenchman Macron wants to ditch the divisions between left and right – if we are to erect “the must” ecosystem, one that will lift us up from decades of underdevelopment.

Of course, we have pockets of competitiveness – and tycoons and global enterprises. But they don’t lift our ranking in the metrics of development, and remain the regional laggard. Our value of hierarchy and paternalism nourishes political patronage and oligarchy that in turn defined us.

And because ours is a restrictive economy, we are digging ourselves deeper in the hole given we are not developing farm teams or a deep bench that can compete in a highly globalized world. Will we ever realize that parochialism and insularity exact a heavy price? Not if hierarchy and paternalism locks us inside the box of destiny unable to imagine and visualize far out into the future. To instinctively imagine and visualize the future means one is forward-looking and forward-thinking.

Think Trump who built his business via political patronage and a network of foreign oligarchy. Not surprisingly, he wants to undo American exceptionalism. Not surprisingly as well, exemplars of American innovation are not in bed with him. 

What we in the Philippines need is to create the ecosystem that will drive development. And the blog has teed up the Singapore miracle, the Pearl River Delta Economic Development Zone and Iskandar Malaysia as models we can learn from; as well as the Asian Tigers and the up-and-coming ones – being living examples captured by the body of knowledge on the journey from poverty to prosperity that resides at Oxford University.

Yet our national conversation continues to reinforce and perpetuate sub-optimization – which is anathema to excellence. Or simply put, we’re neither here nor there. And why perhaps the grandfather called out our backbone.

And despite a world that is rapidly evolving especially because of innovation and globalization – notwithstanding Brexit and why Macron won and May shamed – we can’t help but point to the downside of technology given how underdeveloped we are.

Clearly we see both sides of the same coin. As consumers of technology, we partake and indulge in it; but given we’re not the creators of technology, we are fearful. Fear of the unknown is indeed terrifying.

And that is what Trump and the Brexiteers exploited.

And which is why the blog talks about the writer’s Eastern European friends. They are constantly working – internally (among themselves) and externally (with partners from the developed world that were drawn by their persistence to excel, including the writer and why he stayed on well beyond his one month commitment) that product development and R&D-wise they live in the future – to create products meant to raise man’s wellbeing.

Yet, it does not have to be earthshaking as the blog pointed out in the case of Palawan tourism. If we connect the dots, it is not rocket science to figure out that we need toilet facilities especially along the most popular routes to make the Palawan tourism product experience truly pleasant and agreeable – and worth a repeat buy and another and another …

More to the point, we have been promoting MSMEs for decades as a livelihood undertaking or a job-creation initiative – ever conscious of their limited access to capital. In other words, we see enterprise as a finance-driven exercise – and not surprisingly, we value oligarchy and pigeon-hole people into capital or labor, rich or poor as in destiny.

Think Edison or Jobs or Gates or Zuckerberg, that is, to create something of value that will respond to human needs – to serve humanity, as Tim Cook echoed the mantra of Steve Jobs.

It starts in the mind a.k.a. foresight. The writer’s Eastern European friends did not have the means if capital is the basis of imagining and visualizing the future. And it explains why our MSMEs deliver a hugely disproportionate lower economic contribution even when they represent more than 99% of registered enterprises.

Garry Kasparov, who battled technology in the person of Big Blue on the chessboard, appreciates why the human species stand alone … robots can follow instructions but are too dumb to dream.

Do we need to learn to dream as a people to develop the foresight that is inherent in each of us – and once and for all toss “pwede na ‘yan” and “bahala na”? [As well as discard our culture of impunity! If we need another People Power, it must be to discard this culture that we say we abhor but live with – take our value of oligarchy.] And get our act together and confidently traverse the way forward 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]

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What would Rizal say?

As we celebrated another Independence Day, should we be asking Who are we and what are we? And where are we? [Du30 apparently was attending to Marawi that he didn’t make it to the celebration.] “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]

“It is said that Francis’ great prayer, which he would spend whole nights praying, was ‘Who are you, God? And who am I?’ Contemplative prayer helps us to live into these questions. Who am I? As we observe our minds in contemplation, first we recognize how many of our thoughts are defensive, oppositional, paranoid, self-referential … Saint Francis is what some call a prime attractor’—one who moves history and humanity forward just by being who he is.” [Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation, 9th Jun 2017]

But let’s bring that to the here and now. “He wanted to empower the crazy ones—the misfits, the rebels and the troublemakers, the round pegs, and the square holes—to do the best work. If we could just do that, Steve [Jobs] knew we could really change the world.

“Before that moment, I had never met a leader with such passion or encountered a company with such a clear and compelling purpose: to serve humanity. It was just that simple. Serve humanity. And it was in that moment, after 15 years of searching, something clicked. I finally felt aligned. Aligned with a company that brought together challenging, cutting edge work with a higher purpose. Aligned with a leader who believed that technology which didn’t exist yet could reinvent tomorrow’s world. Aligned with myself and my own deep need to serve something greater …

“MIT and Apple share so much. We both love hard problems. We love the search for new ideas, and we especially love finding those ideas, the really big ones, the ones that can change the world.” [Tim Cook delivers MIT’S 2017 commencement speech, 9th June 2017]

But we are Pinoys. Who are we and what are we? Which brings Fr. Bulatao to mind. “Fr. Jaime C. Bulatao introduced group dynamics in the Philippines and wrote The Technique of Group Discussion (1965). He advocated the importance of understanding of the Filipino psyche, and undertook studies on Filipino culture, and the phenomena of spirituality and consciousness.  This led to his seminal Phenomena and their Interpretation: Landmark Essays 1957–1989 (1992).

“As a clinical psychologist, Fr. Bu aimed to find the kind of therapy best suited for Filipinos, experimenting with different alternatives that combined both his knowledge of Western methods and his understanding of the local culture … At the turn of the century, he devoted most of his time grounding his thoughts about relationships through numbers and quantitative methods.” [Jose Ramon T Villarin SJ, President, Ateneo de Manila University, 11th Feb 2015]

Fr. Bulatao, had he lived longer, would be well on the way to the Filipino pursuit of innovation, having trained his thoughts on the soft and the hard sciences. Why is that important? Ideology, think Padre Damaso since we're talking about Rizal, nor pure algorithm can’t be the fountain of innovation. 

Tim Cook explains: “As Steve once said, technology alone is not enough. It is technology married with the liberal arts married with the humanities that make our hearts sing. When you keep people at the center of what you do, it can have an enormous impact. It means an iPhone that allows the blind person to run a marathon. It means an Apple Watch that catches a heart condition before it becomes a heart attack. It means an iPad that helps a child with autism connect with his or her world. In short, it means technology infused with yourvalues, making progress possible for everyone.

“Whatever you do in your life, and whatever we do at Apple, we must infuse it with the humanity that each of us is born with. That responsibility is immense, but so is the opportunity.”

Which brings another Jesuit to mind, Fr. Vitaliano “George” R. Gorospe. “A grinning, joking, laughing Fr. George, as he is fondly called, fills their remembering. Beneath his jovial and vivacious demeanor, however, is a teacher's seriousness and purposefulness in inspiring and challenging them to be men and women of faith, justice, and compassion.” [Dr. Ma. Christina A. Astorga, Theology Department, January 28, 2002]

This isn’t the first time the blog brought up Fr. George. The writer, though not an Atenean, is proud to call him a friend, and so does the wife. And the one vivid recollection they have is Fr. George’s non-stop challenge re reality.

But it was not until many years later, dense as he was, would the writer find it a powerful thinking tool. And today his Eastern European friends likewise find it to be so. Which gives them lots of confidence in their pursuit of innovation and global competition. Ever diligent with their homework to understand human needs given their commitment to raise man’s wellbeing. That innovation is not for innovation’s sake. [To put that in perspective, the biggest business in their portfolio which they created 15 years ago – from zero knowledge – to compete against the West’s (read world’s) largest player in the category in their home market, today has > 39% share against the latter’s 20%.]

But let’s get back to PH. “United States special forces are providing support to the Philippine military battling to dislodge Islamist militants in a southern city, the US embassy said Saturday, as 13 Filipino Marines were killed in fresh fighting.

“The announcement of US help in the embattled southern region comes after President Rodrigo Duterte has sought to reduce the Philippines’ reliance on the United States and build much closer ties with China and Russia.

“Philippine troops are struggling to defeat hundreds of fighters, who rampaged through Marawi on May 23 flying black flags of the Islamic State group, and have used bomb-proof tunnels, anti-tank weapons and civilians as human shields to fortify their positions.

“Friday’s ferocious, street-to-street gun battles with the militants saw 13 troops killed in a dramatic surge in the toll from the conflict.” [US backs fight vs Maute, Dempsey Reyes, The Manila Times, 11th Jun 2017]

Did we not say this was a surgical intervention, meaning, it was as simple as cut and paste? But we said the same thing with the war on drugs? Where are we? Who are we and what are we?

We were proud to kick out the occupants of Clark and Subic. Yet we all know wealthy nations rely on the US military. What is reality? It is only the Americans that can spend over $600-B in the military while in pursuit of a set of universal values, which they call an experiment. Where is China or Russia? Are they similarly committed to these values? And let’s not interject our paternalistic needs when we look outward. Let’s learn to take personal responsibility to find our place in the sun.

And the blog won’t tire to call us out, given it is our reality: Parochial and insular; hierarchical and paternalistic; political patronage and dynasties; and oligarchic; that when all is said and done, a culture of impunity.

“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]

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Survival of the fittest II

Is it the one reality that subconsciously we resent that we confuse compassion and sympathy with paternalism and overprotection? And instinctively we rely on others to propel us, like today it’s China and/or Russia? Not a surprise given our leader dependency and paternalistic needs.

It may not be second nature but we must step up and take personal responsibility to find our place in the sun. Consider the following exposition re survival of the fittest:

“The Matthew Effect, ‘For all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away . . . The Amazon rainforest is one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. Scientists have cataloged approximately 16,000 different tree species in the Amazon. But despite this remarkable level of diversity, researchers have discovered that there are approximately 227 ‘hyperdominant’ tree species that make up nearly half of the rainforest. Just 1.4 percent of tree species account for 50 percent of the trees in the Amazon.

“Imagine two plants growing side by side. Each day they will compete for sunlight and soil. If one plant can grow just a little bit faster than the other, then it can stretch taller, catch more sunlight, and soak up more rain. The next day, this additional energy allows the plant to grow even more. This pattern continues until the stronger plant crowds the other out and takes the lion’s share of sunlight, soil, and nutrients.

“While 77 different nations have competed in the World Cup, just three countries—Brazil, Germany, and Italy—have won 13 of the first 20 World Cup tournaments . . .  Just two franchises—the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers—have won nearly half of all the championships in NBA history . . . In the 1950s, three percent of Guatemalans owned 70 percent of the land in Guatemala. In 2013, 8.4 percent of the world population controlled 83.3 percent of the world's wealth. In 2015, one search engine, Google, received 64 percent of search queries.

“Like plants in the rainforest, humans are often competing for the same resources . . . From [its] advantageous position, the winning plant has a better ability to spread seeds and reproduce, which gives the species an even bigger footprint in the next generation. This process gets repeated again and again until the plants that are slightly better than the competition dominate the entire forest.

“Scientists refer to this effect as ‘accumulative advantage.’ What begins as a small advantage gets bigger over time. One plant only needs a slight edge in the beginning to crowd out the competition and take over the entire forest.

“[T]he process of accumulative advantage is the hidden engine that drives the 80/20 Rule . . . Sometime in the late 1800s—nobody is quite sure exactly when—a man named Vilfredo Pareto was fussing about in his garden when he made a small but interesting discovery. Pareto noticed that a tiny number of pea pods in his garden produced the majority of the peas.

“As he continued researching, Pareto found that the numbers were never quite the same, but the trend was remarkably consistent. The majority of rewards always seemed to accrue to a small percentage of people. This idea that a small number of things account for the majority of the results became known as the Pareto Principle or, more commonly, the 80/20 Rule.

“Small differences in performance can lead to very unequal distributions when repeated over time. This is yet another reason why habits are so important. The people and organizations that can do the right things, more consistently are more likely to maintain a slight edge and accumulate disproportionate rewards over time.” [The 1% rule explains why a few people end up with most of the rewards, James ClearJamesClear.com, Business Insider, 30th May 2017]

Do we wonder why Singapore and the rest of the Asian Tigers and the up-and-coming ones continue to leave us in the dust? We want to write our own recipe book – a.k.a. “Pinoy abilidad” – instead of replicating what our neighbors have done? But what we want is not what the world is about – and why we must recognize the body of knowledge that is out there. On the other hand, it is. Those that cannot evolve and develop go extinct, which isn’t the first time the blog has raised Darwin. [And it isn’t the first time the blog has raised the Pareto Principle.]

And we applaud Du30, given our leader dependency, for pivoting away from the West into the arms of China and Russia, and embracing Putin and Trump – wanting to write his own recipe book. But Trump is not what Darwin speaks to. He refuses to evolve and develop that the cream-of-the crop of the US CEO community, including those in the oil industry, are distancing themselves from him. Instead of American exceptionalism, Trump is taking America back to the stone age.

Trump behaves like Philippine oligarchy – being the poster boy of political patronage, and then some.
David Gergen, who advised former Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, strongly called out Trump's decision . . . 

‘Some 70 years ago, the United States entered an international agreement called the Marshall Plan, when we came to the aid of Europe, and it was one of the noblest acts in human history,’ he said. ‘Today we walked away from the rest of the world, and it's one of the most shameful acts in our history.’

“Gergen added that ‘we're the largest contributor to carbon dioxide in the world, and for us to walk away as this carbon dioxide threatens the future of our grandchildren -- for us to walk away from that, it's grotesquely irresponsible.’

“He also predicted that the decision ‘will widely be seen around the world as a terrible, terrible setback for the planet,’ and that poor nations will pay the greatest price for global warming, even though the US has contributed the most to global warming while poor nations have contributed the least.” [Gergen: Why Trump committed one of US's most shameful acts, Jason Squitieri, CNN, 2nd Jun 2017]

That’s how Trump is perceived by someone who knows the Oval Office first hand through different occupants. But Du30 sees Trump differently – because birds of the same feather flock together.

Yet we must – especially the chattering classes – figure out why we’re stuck in this Pinoy paradigm. Because if we cannot look in the mirror and answer the question, where are we, we can’t learn to be forward-looking and forward-thinking.

The failure will leave us unequipped for the journey from poverty to prosperity. It is not a walk in the park and demands that we establish where we want to be and how we will get there. Recall that the human species aren’t meant to live in the moment – as in que sera, sera – which is what sets us apart.

“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]

Friday, June 2, 2017

One step forward, two steps back

We have enough lessons from the past yet moving forward is something we have yet to figure out? Because our desires outweigh our beliefs? Which translates to “You’re Not Going to Change Your Mind . . . Unfortunately, people do not always revise their beliefs in light of new information. On the contrary, they often stubbornly maintain their views. Certain disagreements stay entrenched and polarized.

“Our study suggests that political belief polarization may emerge because of peoples’ conflicting desires, not their conflicting beliefs per se. This is rather troubling, as it implies that even if we were to escape from our political echo chambers, it wouldn’t help much. Short of changing what people want to believe, we must find other ways to unify our perceptions of reality.” [You’re Not Going to Change Your Mind, Ben Tappin, Leslie van der Leer and Ryan McKay, Gray Matter, The New York Times, 27th May 2017; Ben Tappin is a graduate student, and Ryan McKay is a reader in psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. Leslie van der Leer is a lecturer in psychology at Regent’s University London]

How does that relate to Juan de la Cruz? He believes in democracy yet his desire is for a strong leadership. And the reason Marcos and Duterte continue to have followers – really, believers – is because of our desire for strong leadership, as in our instincts of leader dependency. And it is consistent with who and what we are: parochial and insular; hierarchical and paternalistic; political patronage and dynasties; and oligarchic; that when all is said and done, a culture of impunity.

Our belief is tyranny by the minority is wrong yet we are in bed with oligarchy because of our desire for paternalism. We bow to hierarchy in exchange for paternalism. And it explains why despite Lee and Mahathir telling Deng and us to beg for Western money and technology, we continue to rationalize and see the West as evil – and would rather have a nation run like hell by Filipinos.

If supporting Deng and the Asian Tigers before China with Western money and technology is evil, then so be it. Of course, the West expected something in return. A bigger market, i.e., a world that is interconnected, founded on universal values. Note perfection is not in the equation.

Which is what Merkel is telling Trump and the Brits. But can anyone predict how the world will evolve and develop? That is a question Adam and Eve feared as well – despite being made in the image and likeness of The Creator.

“Movies and pop culture get this all wrong. The idea of a single eureka moment is a dangerous lie. It makes us feel inadequate since we haven't had ours. It prevents people with seeds of good ideas from getting started. Oh, you know what else movies get wrong about innovation? No one writes math formulas on glass. That's not a thing.

“It's good to be idealistic. But be prepared to be misunderstood. Anyone working on a big vision will get called crazy, even if you end up right. Anyone working on a complex problem will get blamed for not fully understanding the challenge, even though it's impossible to know everything upfront. Anyone taking initiative will get criticized for moving too fast, because there's always someone who wants to slow you down.

“In our society, we often don't do big things because we're so afraid of making mistakes that we ignore all the things wrong today if we do nothing. The reality is, anything we do will have issues in the future. But that can't keep us from starting.” [Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard graduation speech]

The writer represented the West in China as well as the rest of the region; and as the world knows, they did their part and built the largest middle-class community the world has known, and reduced poverty drastically.

Of course, we Pinoys did not benefit, parochial and insular as we are. And for the last 14 years the writer is again representing the West in Central and Eastern Europe. And the progress demonstrated by his friends is the inspiration behind the blog.

The writer was there to witness AEC come into being (as well as NAFTA and the EU.) And we can’t argue against the success of our neighbors – and are wooing China given their economic clout – and may even hold the belief that infrastructure development, industrialization and urbanization are the building blocks of growth and development. Yet our desires have defined us – from parochial . . . going . . . full circle to a culture of impunity.

Consider that Du30 sees something in common amongst himself, Putin and Trump. And like Juan de la Cruz, he desires strong leadership, read that as autocratic. And why he is following the Marcos playbook too.

But did we not say that electing Du30 being from Mindanao is a big plus – because he will not put up with Imperial Manila? And he has a model in Davao on how to pursue development country-wide? Now it appears Mindanao is the model for the imposition of martial law country-wide? And what about the mantra of Build-Build-Build?

The administration is now saying that without its tax reform agenda, Build-Build-Build is not a given? One step forward, two steps back? More to the point, Davao or Mindanao cannot be the model in our pursuit of growth and development in the same manner that betting on the OFW phenomenon and the BPO industry was wrong headed.

For a people with no history and track record to speak of development-wise, should we not be asking ourselves what model and body of knowledge must guide us and be our True North? Or are we simply demonstrating misplaced swagger and hubris – including us in the chattering classes? But then again, it is consistent with our parochial and insular instincts that feed on a fixed mindset.

“It assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens. They 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.” [Carol Dweck, Stanford psychologist]

Put another way, who can argue against our accomplishments especially as individuals in the local milieu? And because we can hold our own given our value of hierarchy, for instance, we measure ourselves against a fixed set of standards. And we can even invoke such universal values as family, faith, humility . . . and the like.

Yet despite our beliefs in these values, we are stuck with our instincts and desires, that is, parochial and insular; hierarchical and paternalistic; political patronage and dynasties; and oligarchic; that when all is said and done, a culture of impunity. And we are not going to change our mind.

Today will be like yesterday and tomorrow too . . . And that is the challenge of Philippine higher education.

“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]