Tuesday, March 13, 2012

“Suplado” versus “Sabog”

It's human nature to want to belong; and so that if harmony is the group’s convention, we expect everyone to conform? But what if there are expatriates and we see them as 'task-oriented’ instead of ‘people-oriented’? Do we label them "suplado" (loosely translates to insensitive)?

Sabog’ (loosely translates to 'being all over the place') is an expression that the writer heard a lot while with friends recently. This husband and wife team needed assistance in pulling their thoughts together – “we’re entrepreneurs and there is a constant stream of ideas that we simply feel like pursuing but it has dawned on us that many a times we were chasing rainbows.” But they were not the only ones. Another friend was explaining a very similar realization within the family business.

Would 'sabog' in fact explain why decades of efforts to drive the Philippine economy proved short-sighted – because we were all over the place, and thus missed the 'vital few'? Finally the Joint Foreign Chambers are showing us how not to be ‘sabog’ through 'Arangkada'? For example, the JFC teed up 7 industry winners that would generate over $75 billion in foreign direct investments and incremental GDP of over $100 billion, and millions of jobs over 10 years. But until we learn to try something foreign we would invariably fall for the familiar? Unfortunately, the familiar explains why we're economic laggards – i.e., simply, our ways haven't worked? For example, garments, semiconductors and even OFW remittances – and including our handful of billionaires – did not generate the dynamic to raise us from underdevelopment!

We can't measure everything by our convention, especially given that we're uncompetitive and have a problem with governance especially corruption, among others? And more tangibly, to exploit the avenues presented by the JFC and pursue the strategic industries they identified, we need a couple of predicates: power generation and basic infrastructure. But we're 'sabog' and can't focus on the building blocks for progress and the common good? And so we instead compare our miseries re unemployment and competitiveness, for instance, with the US? Should we in fact ask ourselves why we can't match the progress of our neighbors?

And in our wretchedness we need to seek some breathing space – and thank God our ‘green efforts’ have started to bear fruit reflected in our higher green index rating! But that’s not the Black Swan that will change the dynamic of our economy! Because the dynamic we seek must truly be rational, i.e., from the interplay of these imperatives: investment, technology and innovation and talent, product and market development! The concept of dynamic does not come naturally when we are wearing our ‘linear-thinking’ hat. But it comes alive when we are wearing our ‘lateral-thinking’ hat.

To think laterally means thinking outside the box. For example, master innovators like Steve Jobs 'start with the end in view.' How? With product ideas that will approximate the consumer’s quest for self-actualization – i.e., respond to her lifestyle, including but not limited to making her truly efficient and productive. Conversely, linear thinking would ask, 'what's the first step to get this project started'? Marcos, for instance, initiated several industrialization-directed projects, but what was 'the end in view'? As Lee Kuan Yew would reminisce in his book describing the evolution of Singapore, "the press conference to announce the activity was what Marcos saw as important, not the end point." Ergo: Development is not about the activity but the desired outcome!

Can Juan de la Cruz learn to be 'suplado'? All it means is to be focused in the pursuit of the common good, and not to be 'sabog' so that we don't drown in the trivial many and miss the vital few! In short, we need to ask ourselves, what is 'the end in view'? We must be a developed nation, raise our average income several times fold! And the JFC is showing us how to get there! If a war-torn Vietnam could attract over 30% (of their GDP) in FDIs, against our less than 20%, and thus are developing at a faster pace, there must be something right they are doing? Unfortunately, we're still preoccupied justifying our failings, which only makes us more 'sabog'?

1 comment:

  1. Hi, cool post. I have been thinking about this topic,so thanks for sharing. I will probably be subscribing to your blog. Keep up great writing!!!
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