Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Beyond the challenge of Asean is a globalized world

President Aquino’s sincerity in pushing “daang matuwid” has caught the attention of the rest of the world. And we ought to be proud of that. But it doesn’t mean we can ignore reality. Indeed, his mantra to arrest corruption in order to address poverty is laudable. But by now we know that the challenge is not a cake walk. Our economic backwardness is a generational challenge and requires at least a generation to overcome. President Aquino’s tenure thus isn’t long enough to be equal to the task. And so his party and its bigger coalition would want that they are able carry on with his mandate. Their intentions may be noble. But as President Cory Aquino had quipped, “There are many indispensables in the cemetery.” Our challenge goes beyond politics. Our challenge is nation-building. We can’t have politics and oligarchy indeed entrenched to define who the Filipino is. We need to reinvent Juan de la Cruz and our institutions (our backwardness, unfortunately, doesn’t bode well) if we are to breed the right leaders. If it isn’t obvious yet, after decades of missteps, we’ve messed up plenty! Enough is enough!

Juan de la Cruz despite his professed Christianity can’t be holier-than-thou having failed in our basic calling as a people: to be good stewards to our God-given talents? The fact that the world and our neighbors have left us behind says we better come to grips with our reality? And that is where our problem starts because our knee-jerk is to invoke something totally alien to the challenge. We invoke our faith, trumpet our happiness and our talents; and conversely insist on highlighting the weaknesses of others if not the rest of the world. But our rationalization is suspect: if corruption, for example, is universal then our brand of corruption is truly egregious given our backwardness as in being objects of charity? And when all is said and done, we simply are sidestepping our challenges because we believe that is our strength: “Pinoy abilidad”?

No pain no gain. What could be the common thread shared by nations that have indeed moved ahead? Our group of expatriates (composed of different nationalities that have worked with other people in various parts of the world) would find ourselves comparing notes – and because of years of friendship we continue to do so to this day. And the following would fairly represent what we’ve observed over the years: (1) Self-improvement is beyond one’s comfort zone; (2) Setting higher and even higher goals is what the human spirit is about; (3) Universal appeal is above a people’s parochial bias and (4) “What’s in it for me”.

At the end of the day, the human condition must be satisfied via a reward. But the problem especially in underdeveloped nations like ours is that the human condition becomes paramount, superseding nation-building. In fairness, even developed economies could likewise stumble as the world witnessed with the bursting of the credit bubble, i.e., the human condition needs to be policed. Clearly the spoils of rank and privileges can be intoxicating. Unfortunately, that means self-improvement (as a people and a nation) is undermined given our already lofty posts in the hierarchy – with the desire to set higher goals expected to ebb. Thus the commitment to be a developed economy is remotely present in our psyche if at all. And in a confined, parochial world we lose sight of values that have universal appeal. Precisely, we would only recognize such imperative and thus seek the requisite values if we have cultivated a wider world. Conversely, to be parochial is to perpetuate a hierarchal not an egalitarian structure. And we can mouth “inclusive” but will only get blue in the face until we wrap our head around it?

Indeed we must be doing charity works but to lift an underdeveloped economy ten-fold and become a developed nation is beyond platitudes.

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