Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bondying meets Padre Damaso

Our supposed damaged culture is again in the forefront given the headline-seeking pork scam? But where would it come from? Was it when Padre Damaso met Bondying? Bondying by definition has entitlement at the core of his assumptions and expectations – because he is a weakling? And opposites attract; and so he and the bully, Padre Damaso, were meant for each other? And not surprisingly, Bondying would eventually mirror Padre Damaso? But this is the 21st century; ergo: Juan de la Cruz must once and for all learn to paddle his own canoe?

We must play the cards that we were dealt. Deng Xiaoping faced daunting challenges and had to pick the brains of Lee Kuan Yew and the Malaysians and the Thais; and made China an economic miracle, lifting “hundreds of millions” of Chinese out of poverty! Look who is playing bully today in the region? The Chinese, of course! What to expect from the human condition? They never were shy: We need Western money and technology. Please help us to raise our people from poverty!

Why would we expect everyone and his uncle to then treat Juan de la Cruz like a debutante? We don't even treat our own when they are lower in the totem pole with dignity – they're muchachos and muchachas? I remember explaining to my then new Eastern European friends what their accession to the EU meant. [Today PHL is in a similar boat with ASEAN.] “It will open a bigger market for you but it isn’t going to be a cakewalk. No one will give you a handicap; that is only for amateur golf. You have to learn to give as hard as you take. It is survival of the fittest. It is the law of nature or the law of the jungle if you will. You have to hit every curve ball they throw at you. Everything is fair in love and war.”

“Are we good then to choose to compete against the world's biggest consumer goods company?” That was their response. And with a wide grin, I took my hat off for their daring. But then I said that their concept of what a factory is had to be undone. “Everything has to be a straight line. Recall the definition: the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” I’ve learned that using high school lingo was the best way to explain efficiency and productivity. On the other hand, to educate the younger generation about what efficiency and productivity isn’t, they should simply observe Metro Manila?

We don’t want to prematurely celebrate our competitiveness rankings or ease of doing business lest we be in the camp of Vladimir Putin – with Russia (# 92) ahead of PHL (# 108) in the rankings? Like PHL, Russia has a structural problem; and that is, the absence of a robust industrial base. In one sense Russia is doing better because it has an industrial base but it is outmoded and inefficient, is not pulling its weight and has attained full capacity and worse, is uncompetitive. Beyond form, substance matters? For example, in the case of PHL, the European Chamber renews call on ownership limits,” Business World, 10th Nov 2013. "It is essential that the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) is shortened.” We may see the world as gray but the rest of the world doesn’t? They see our forked tongue – protecting the few while shedding poverty tears.

Very recently, my Eastern European friends presented the plant layout for a new state-of-the-art factory – their fourth factory investment in ten years, that will be up and running in two years. “This is a very simple concept; the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. And even the equipment manufacturer was all praise.” These people think, behave, act and believe they are an MNC; not from the West but from the heart of impoverished Eastern Europe – in a town of 80,000 and a country of less than 7 million. They have gone toe-to-toe with their best Western competition. Yet they are far from perfect; but they have internalized the building blocks of a sustainable economic activity: beyond investment, technology and innovation, education and training and product and market development. [In PHL we feel for agriculture. Still, it is imperative “to start with the end in view,” even in agribusiness. The thinking process must start with the “output,” not the “input” – and to visualize successfully marketing high value-added products, beyond basic produce, to attain sustainability. To simply talk about targeting and focusing on agriculture and rural development is just that, talk?]

We Pinoys have a lot more experience in free enterprise but why are we laggards? It brings to mind “the Philippines’ lead climate negotiator, Nadarev SaƱo . . . while in Doha: Please, let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to find the will to take responsibility for the future we want. I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?” [Time magazine, 11th Nov 2013] Shouldn’t we be asking that of ourselves, too? [My family continues to pray with the nation in the aftermath of the storm.]

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