Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Hope takes work"

That is lifted from the column of Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, O.P., 11th August 2012, Manila Bulletin. "The Olympics: Hope takes work. Let's face it, the physical and mental preparation of our athletes are hardly commensurate with the hopes they cherish."

A priest was sharing the hope he felt despite the state of the church today – but which he clarified as not synonymous to optimism. "We must pray for the church that it is being led by the spirit. We appear to be moving away from Vatican II; in many places they have no priest to say mass – when the Eucharist is what our faith is about; people are so busy they have no time for Sunday mass, we are losing a generation of Christians; and in politics where the leadership of the country comes from, there is not much to expect. We, the members of the church, must move beyond being inward; we have to make use of the nourishment we've received and be outward."

And the sad state of affairs is confirmed by the daughter: "This country is on a downward trend." She teaches in a New York charter school for kids rescued from their wayward ways and, despite all efforts to motivate them, many have refused the regimen of education. Some would even prefer to have kids in order to exempt them from school while entitled to social services. [And not surprisingly, Romney picked Ryan as his running mate given his 'small government' mantra.]

'Hope takes work' is universal. To paraphrase Fr. de la Rosa, the walk must match the talk. President Aquino is providing the leadership to right the nation and its economic ship by personally leading the fight against corruption. More to the point, it is pure lip service every time we talk about 'inclusive growth’ when Juan de la Cruz is unwittingly perpetuating an economy that is skewed to serve the few – while expecting to be patronized? And because of the status quo that we are preserving, it is not only in the economy and in athletics where we are deficient. The chaos and environmental degradation of Metro Manila and beyond, our backward infrastructure, our underdeveloped agriculture and our uncompetitive industry are black marks on a proud Juan de la Cruz.

We can dream . . . we can hope . . . but until we take to heart that hope takes work, we simply are in la-la land. We can't just cherry pick – a swallow doesn't make a summer – which we proudly attribute to our being incurable optimists? Unfortunately, we mistake faith for fatalism? We know full well that despite the interests from foreign investors, for instance, we are still miles away compared to our neighbors. And given our black marks, we need to take the extra mile if we are to attain economic prosperity. It takes more than optimism and hope – it takes work.

How do we demonstrate it – not when we’ve allowed ourselves in a no-win situation? “Mega investors protest electricity bill” [Manila Bulletin, 21st Aug 2012]; we can't get power-related projects to attract bidders [paraphrasing Boo Chanco, 20th Aug 2012, The Philippine Star] and we are now told that foreign consultants (of Meralco) believe that given the free-market system we've created no foreign entity would dare enter our power industry – because their investment could be at risk? On the other hand, the NEDA chief says we need to create decent paying jobs. Between the challenge posed by endemic corruption and our power situation, where is the NEDA chief coming from? We have a structural problem and we need more than rhetoric. It is not plans that we need – because we've had them for decades – it is political will that we sorely lack!

It brings to mind the Bush-Cheney team that subscribed to outsourcing military services to the likes of Cheney's former company, Halliburton. Where is our economic team? Where is the leadership? How could we talk of pursuing 13 strategic industries – or more than the 7 proposed by the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) – when something as fundamental as power (and flood control) seems nakedly leaderless and spinning out of control?

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