Monday, August 26, 2013

PHL: yesterday, today, tomorrow

When my maternal grandfather (May he rest in peace!) talked about Juan de la Cruz being “backbone-challenged,” I had no clue what he meant. But recently I coined “self-esteem-challenged” because I’ve been searching for an explanation why we seem not to have embraced the interdependence of nations, and much less, hegemony. There must be a reason why we haven’t internalized the reality of the 21st century world? And so it was refreshing that some of our opinion writers would acknowledge that Cambodia and Myanmar may be on a faster clip development-wise than we are? Sometime ago I talked about “critical thinking.” [Wikipedia: The habits of mind that characterize a person strongly disposed toward critical thinking include a desire to follow reason and evidence wherever they may lead, a systematic approach to problem solving, inquisitiveness, even-handedness, and confidence in reasoning.] In the private sector it is key to internalizing knowledge – but indeed it takes some doing. And I’d talked about “bringing it down from our head to our heart and finally to our gut.” It comes from my MNC background. [“Every bit as troubling is the performance of colleges in developing the critical thinking skills and capabilities so important to life and work . . . Colleges can't fix things if they . . . have access only to half a conversation. Business can, and must, supply the other half,” writes Alan Kantrow, The missing half of the education debate, Harvard Business Review, 13th Aug 2013.]
My maternal grandfather was yesterday, and we are today. What will we be tomorrow? We’re still demonstrating against US military presence. My wife and I were recently in Hamburg for a couple of days and I opted to spend another day after a cruise that we took because I realized that I’d always taken Germany for granted. That must be from watching countless episodes of “Combat”. Although I remembered the then president of Europe of my old MNC company coming back to New York with a piece from the fallen Berlin wall.
And in Germany they are host to the US Air Forces in Europe. It is what hegemony is, but to Juan de la Cruz that is alien? Germany is the wealthiest nation in Europe and I finally appreciated that Hamburg, for example, is a pretty city that I'd liken to a vast central park with a much larger lake than New York’s Central Park. It is organized, efficient but not perfect. The restroom in the Central Train Station charges a euro but is a lot more civilized than that of New York’s Grand Central Station, which is free-of-charge; but outside, the latter has no stench – but perfection is not of this world! But because we’re not wealthy like Germany our self-esteem can’t handle US military presence? We're screaming sovereignty while the Germans/Europeans, cool and pragmatic, are laughing their way to the bank – let those naïve Americans pay for our insurance policy? 
Finally the EU is technically out of recession. But it does not spend to the level of the US in defense – which is where a big chunk of the US deficit is coming from. At its highest because of Iraq and Afghanistan, US defense spending was roughly $700 billion – and the total bill for the war on terror is estimated north of a trillion. So we think the US wants to retain us as a colony? The US will first want Singapore before us – being a wealthier state per capita-wise. If we read the transcripts of the debates in the US Congress and discussions in the White House about granting us independence, the cost of rebuilding PHL was a very major consideration, i.e., it was going to be a financial burden. (They're as pragmatic as the Germans/Europeans after all?) Today, we would still be a financial burden if the US takes us as a colony – because they have to raise our standard of living starting with infrastructure like what West Germany had to do with East Germany. And we have no globally competitive industry that could pay for that. We don’t even have the forest anymore; and finally we want to preserve our mines? Of course mining could be bad for the environment. And so we like to say that we want to balance things; but then there seems no clarity in our problem-definition and problem-solving – and so we can’t get anything done (because of "Pinoy abilidad")?
How could we employ critical thinking, say, in hegemony when we don't employ critical thinking in prioritizing our development needs – starting with power, basic infrastructure, a modern airport, etc., etc.? We have done so much damage to the nation, to quote Cardinal Tagle, yet we’re nowhere near changing our worldview and our mindset? And while a DNA is constantly changing through the process of mutation, the DNA of Juan de la Cruz seems cast in stone – and so he is in the past, of the past, and for the past? The bottom line: PHL tomorrow will be oligopoly-ruled – which as we now know comes hand in glove with pervasive poverty?

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