Thursday, July 18, 2013

The illusion

"We need our siblings from the eastern part of the continent to shake us up old fogies," interjects an EU journalist during a discussion on EU competitiveness. Does it remind us of our elite class, and that if we'd listen to them we would think that we're the greatest nation on earth? Wittingly or unwittingly, it is an illusion that we've created and, not surprisingly, Juan de la Cruz remains hopeful in particular when he's lectured on positive thinking – or faith – among others?

Denial is not positive thinking? And especially when the denial has equated to perpetuating the status quo that is best described as cacique and hierarchical as a system and structure? Recall Rizal and peers brought home from their travels and education what they realized was kept from the consciousness of the Indios. No different from how Marcos made Juan de la Cruz accept a supposed benevolent rule?

Too bad . . . so sad . . . While he no longer has to contend with his colonizers, the psyche of Juan de la Cruz has similarly been held by our elite class – “I know what’s best for you; trust me, I hold the key to your salvation”? Christian doesn’t give us license to be ‘holier-than-thou'? Ditto for our nationalism and what we proudly call our culture and heritage that have justified our tendencies to cling to the past? Thanks to the tsars, they gave Lenin legitimacy? And we strongly believe that we are holistic and adhere to "total systems," for example? And so “to prioritize and to focus” is disconcerting because it violates our definition of “being inclusive”? Or is it simply “crab mentality”? Should we wonder then why we seem unable to figure out what an "ecosystem" is? Economists look at monetary and fiscal policies as levers of economic growth. That is well and good in a developed economy. But in an underdeveloped economy like PHL, we’re faced with the one imperative: to rapidly erect the platform of the economy?

"RP bets on high-end casinos to become top gaming hub," blares a lead article. It falls short of an ecosystem, but “pwede na ‘yan”? Even Singapore benefits from the gaming industry – but that is only true because Singapore has smartly put together an efficient ecosystem, and gaming is gravy? While we are suffering from a double whammy: First, government – or administration after administration – for decades has failed to erect the platform of a strong economic system. And it starts with infrastructure, from energy to the other basics like roads and bridges, for instance. It is not rocket science as our neighbors have demonstrated. But to safeguard our egos we’d rather point to the weaknesses of these countries? That is how we’ve succeeded in creating an illusion such that Juan de la Cruz is neither here nor there?

To add insult to injury, we dig up our sophistication and knowledge of the modern world, and claim that there is a more complex reason – beyond the comprehension of Juan de la Cruz – why PHL higher education lags its neighbors and the world, for example? Yet even the US had to admit that they have fallen behind? We see complexity instead of reality? What about looking at the mirror?

And second of all, in the private sector, with our acceptance if not celebration of oligopoly, we have allowed the few to define our future? And the more we restrict foreign investment, the more we applaud every new project and investment they make – because we badly need investment? And given that oligopoly is our definition of success, we’ve totally surrendered the 21st century to the rest of the world – them that have been doggedly learning, understanding and exploiting what an open and competitive global economy demands? And we think being the top gaming hub would cover for our egregious mistakes – or sins of omissions and commissions? The private sector is yet to appreciate why the first imperative is investment – and beyond local? And especially because of our parochial instincts, we have yet to value technology especially those that others may have – and thus must tap come hell or high water? Sadly, in our heart of hearts, we believe we are as good in developing technology – or that in a hurry we'd get there? It is another illusion . . .

And as the world accelerates innovation, and talent, product and market development, the more the rest of the world is leaving us behind? Are we at the end of the day simply mirroring what losers are like? If an industry icon and best in class like a P&G could produce a couple of losers in recent memory so does everyone else?

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