Sunday, October 2, 2011

Their GDP per person is 3.8 times

That is, compared to ours in the Philippines. “What’s wrong with us, Filipinos,” the wife would sigh as she was distracted by a “big dig” in the city center – where they were boring tunnels for the new subway system. It used to be that the wife would be delighted simply hearing ‘progress stories’ from the locals. She remembers being horrified billeted in an updated ex-Soviet era apartment – with double steel doors reminiscent of spy movies – despite the newly installed Western kitchen and bathrooms. And when she saw where they lived her heart sank. Clearly, their lives have gone several notches up. Today, the wife would be emailing pictures back home: these people are not ignorant . . . of yachting . . . golfing . . . the good life!

Hristo is driving you tonight, if you don’t mind”? Stani, very politely, almost inaudibly explains why: “At 2 pm I will be closing on the apartment I bought.” And the writer and wife congratulate him. Stani adds: “It’s in a new apartment complex.” Over a recent long weekend, Hristo (with wife, Veya, and 13-month old Krisy) joined the writer and wife in a resort by the Black Sea. And on the way back Veya excitedly talked about their summer holiday in Turkey. She loves traveling, and shared her many experiences: Spain, Egypt, England, etc. And so planning ahead, for the next long weekend, the family would join the writer and wife in a country club – their version of Baguio Country Club, but which in winter is a ski resort. “We don’t play golf but we would surely join you for food and drinks at the clubhouse.”

The wife wonders if form is sucking the substance in our perspective. We can’t build a world-class airport, can’t supply energy at competitive rates, will renegotiate the NBN-ZTE deal as well as North Rail and Laguna Lake rehab? When is Juan de la Cruz going to wake up?

But back to reality in Eastern Europe: “This size delivers 10-margin points more than your expectation,” says a marketing manager with a smile. After a pregnant pause everyone is looking at the writer. “That is classic ‘American greed’ – and the world can’t have more of it”! And the response: “I get it. That is not ours: we must reinvest it on the brand – ‘kill the enemy,’ move from ‘iPhone 3 to iPhone 4”! Bravo – is all the writer has to say!

Then a couple of planned TV commercials are on the agenda. The first: “That is typical ‘me too’!” And there is a scramble to show the competition’s commercial – and it drives home the point. And then the next: “The title grabs but the execution is generic”! Silence . . . “It is imperative to revisit the product architecture: (a) to sharpen the definition of the brand, (b) truly crystallize the rationale of each segment in the value chain, (c) elevate the clarity of the communication and (d) the most crucial point, raise the confidence of the team to forge on. Like in Chinese checkers, creating one’s own path is key, and not to allow competition to define the rules of the game, and to dictate its tempo!”

Is the Philippines allowing others to define its future? Until we learn that establishing and internalizing a national agenda is a must, we would be pulled in all directions? For example, WikiLeaks have become the latest distraction? We have to set our own goal and get there? [Authentic faith delivers result? ”. . . Give us this day our daily bread . . .”]

China practically begged for Western investments and know-how? Imagine China lecturing the US, today? Why not – the US lectured Japan on the lost decade; and the US has likewise claimed infamy given its own lost decade? Net, there is no value to second guess the US, or whoever, imperfect as they are – the value lies in sharply defining our own future? As adolescents we honestly believed we ought to be independent until mom or dad needed to bail us out – i.e., the issue went away only after we paddled our own canoe? Are we there yet?

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