Friday, July 18, 2014

We in the social media

“Social media has been given to us because traditional media has come into ownership and control of business and political interest. We in traditional media have become captives and damaged goods. In what we can only call a world and word war there are very few of us good or bad. To turn the tide God has created a democratic and more powerful media.” [About the message not the messenger, Cito Beltran, CTALK, The Philippine Star, 9th July 2014]

That piece from Cito Beltran made me go back to “The genesis of this blog”: “I started writing to engage columnists and newspaper editors at the end of a trip to the Philippines over Holy Week in 2008 – to echo the frustrations expressed by friends and relations that were much louder and more intense than prior trips. My first thought was: with so much talents and skills how could the country be the basket case of Asia? Are we simply too nice as a people? Since then I have kept abreast with local news and opinions . . . I have shared my reaction (at times strongly reflecting the frustrations I am echoing) to prevailing views through my letters to newspapers and am posting them in this blog; and will continue doing so in the hope that I am able to offer a different perspective . . .”

Those frustrations previously expressed by friends and relatives have become mine as well – and have turned some people off. And so while the blog has 16K “Facebook likes,” 7 of the over 50 columnists that I regularly share my postings with have blocked my emails. That is roughly 13%, and which in a universe is to be expected – not the 13% necessarily but we will always turn people off. Social media has made me public when for most of my adult life I was indifferent to the plight of PHL, focused mainly on family, career and church. And which is why the piece of Cito Beltran resonates.

I have become more concerned about the plight of PHL; and as I wrote in the genesis of this blog, “My first thought was: with so much talents and skills how could the country be the basket case of Asia? Are we simply too nice as a people?” As a once lazy student, I looked up to many outstanding Filipinos and simply assumed, even when I was already based overseas, that we Pinoys would make the Philippines truly great.

And through my regular blog postings, realizing that we want a better life for Juan de la Cruz, I would offer ideas toward making the Philippines truly great. But if my ideas turn people off, then my blog is an exercise in futility. I’m not an expert in Dale Carnegie – or “how to win friends and influence people.” Though with what I do in different parts of the world, I have wittingly or unwittingly won friends and influenced people. And what I offer in this blog comes from that experience, in addition to playing back ideas from authorities on relevant subjects as well as news reports and opinions, local and foreign, that are like dos and don'ts of nation-building. 

And if I would take a cue from Cito Beltran, I ought to carry on. And to those that I would continue to turn off, I beg your pardon. And like we would hear from Juan de la Cruz, we have only one PHL, and we better put it in better order than we've done so far?

For the balance of this posting, please allow me to liberally quote from the following: Who can we trust (?), Lydia S. Enrile,MAPping the FuturePhilippine Daily Inquirer, 7th July 2014.

“It is unfortunate that the non-profit sector where I come, particularly the League of Corporate Foundations and the Association of Foundations, with decades of professionalism and dedication, and hard work, have been tainted by a few “rotten apples”.

“The poor perception of business though is perplexing to me. The drivers of trust in business are their treatment of their internal stakeholders and their employees, whether they paid the correct wages, adequate benefits. Do they comply with the law? Concern for others and payment of taxes are the least of their concerns. This data is telling, since more than 99 percent of businesses in the country are SMEs, employing 70 percent of the labor force. Should we presume that they are the basis for the low trust rating of business?

“Given the challenge of inclusive growth, it behooves our citizens to examine what the implications of these low trust levels mean for economic growth and the creation of prosperity for the majority of Filipinos.

“Do our strong family ties prevent us from professionalizing and growing our companies? I should know, I come from a family conglomerate that started after the war and grew to later become one of the top 100 corporations in the country. But we were slow to professionalize and relied mostly on family members to grow the business. I do not want to say that they were not qualified, I only know that what our fathers built is no longer there.

“How many of these SMEs will grow to become global brands, or even sustainable corporations without professionalizing, and contribute to lowering the 7.3 percent unemployment rate? Does the government truly support their growth or again, do we merely have slogans that do not actually work? If trust in government institutions remains low, this means higher transaction cost and uncompetitiveness for us, especially given the Asean integration.

“What kind of a future do our more than half a million graduates each year look forward to? Will they join the exodus of one million Filipinos each year to go abroad in search of a better future?”

“And shall our economy be continuously buoyed by the P4 to P5 billion in OFW remittances?

“Yes, our investment grade is attractive, our economic fundamentals sound but can we trust our institutions to be consistent, transparent and incorruptible. When will we stop giving “grease” money from the ordinary traffic enforcer to the clerk in the local government office to some of our “honorables.” All these cost add to our transaction cost and affect our competitiveness.

“In the words of Sec. Arsenio Balisacan, Neda Director General, “economic growth is necessary but not enough to reduce poverty.” The Agri sector, where the majority of the poor are, has been begging, pleading for structural reforms in the Department of Agriculture. While they admit that Land Reform is good as a concept, we have failed to implement it properly resulting in more than two decades of weak investments in that sector. There is a plea for the private sector to step in but will they, given the uncertainty of land reform and the high transaction cost imposed by some local government units? The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) continues to highlight these issues with its members. But they must likewise tackle this issue of low trust in business. We are after all the “engines of growth” and without this TRUST, our sustainability is greatly eroded.

“Sure, it is MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES, but is it more FUN only for those who can afford it.  These may sound like the angst of someone in midlife crisis (although I am way passed that), but really, WHO “CAN WE TRUST? And how can we truly restore the trust our parents once had in our institutions and in each other, and move our country toward real prosperity?”

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