Sunday, October 20, 2013

With due respect to the bishops

It is indeed encouraging that the church is taking a leadership role in denouncing pork. Yet pork is only a symptom of what ails us as a nation. We've been going round in circles because we haven't truly faced up to the reality that our basic assumptions as a culture are at the root of why we're deep down in the abyss?
And this blog has consistently highlighted a few themes because they speak to what we cherish and are proud about as a people. For example, we've accepted hierarchy as a given and not surprisingly, we'd expect that as we move up PHL hierarchy, we'd deserve the privileges that come with our stature? And so we've come to define normal as living in our version of the caste system – and it brings subservience and the absence of transparency? And when the sun isn't allowed to shine, power and hubris and greed and hypocrisy set in? And so church "infallibility" (but which Francis calls narcissism and leprosy?) political patronage and oligopoly, our most defining values, are what we must address – especially by the church being the de facto dispenser of what is and isn’t legitimate, as in its imprimatur?
It is understandable that because industry drives investments, representatives of Philippine industry would be defensive given the reality of PHL poverty. Yet the world knows that we're economic laggards because we're investment laggards! But because we defer to our cacique masters, we've boxed ourselves – investment-wise – in our little corner? And in the process we've perpetuated backwardness and anti-progress mentality? It is no secret that the Asian Tigers became tigers because they opened their economies; and Deng Xiaoping even had Communist China embrace capitalism. Is it China who got it all confused or is it Juan de la Cruz because he continued to erect barriers around PHL's pot of soil, nurturing oligopoly and political patronage – the two sides of the same coin?
And while we can't be proud [or are we?] that we’re the epitome of inequality – having the worst gap between rich and poor in the region – we could still be proud of our faith? We must . . . but not because it sets us apart. Francis has debunked that by simply saying that there is no Catholic God! And so where do we stand really? The church, the school and our homes are from where we learn how to face the world. And have we produced: (a) a corrupt public sector that thrives on political patronage; (b) an uncompetitive private sector that luxuriates in oligopoly; and (c) in the lower caste, OFWs?
And now ASEAN 2015 is upon us. That is one reality; and the other is between our public and private sectors, we aren't geared for regional and much less global trade and competition. The public sector has miserably failed in infrastructure building and to add insult to injury, has bragged about the pork system to stimulate the economy. 
And in the case of the private sector, it has miserably failed in establishing a vibrant industrial base such that 3 of our neighbors dominate regional trade to the extent of 70%. We may have sophisticated bankers, lawyers, economists, or whatever, but our forebears knew from the age of the barter trade that trade required goods. And which in the 21st century presupposes globally competitive goods that can only come from an innovation culture, not the cacique culture that we still value? It has nothing to do with destiny; it is shooting ourselves in the foot time and again? 
And not surprisingly, Juan de la Cruz has yet to overcome our parochial definition of patriotism – i.e., between our oligarchy, nationalists and leftist elements, we don’t believe in an open economy? It goes back to our inward-looking and parochial instincts and which with our hierarchical system and structure have brought upon us the perfect storm of underdevelopment? Precisely what Rizal fought against, that is, backwardness and anti-progress? What must we then learn if we are to reset the Rizal mantra? A progressive and an innovation culture but that means a total reset of our values?
And Francis has led the way. The church has to cease being narcissists and cure its leprosy. It means being a horizontal structure where transparency not subservience rules; not power, not privilege, not hubris. And the school and the family could take their cues accordingly.

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