Thursday, August 14, 2014

A vision of the future we can create – not more of the same

One word in the vernacular that expatriates to the Philippine subsidiary of my old MNC company would learn very quickly is“sipsip,” meaning, a suck-up. News item: “Palace: Aquino will step down in 2016.” “Daang matuwid” was a blessing. And we must be thankful to the president for his courage. But whether we count PHL independence from the time of the Spaniards or Americans, we’re not that young anymore – we can’t keep entertaining ideas like a coup and messing up with the president’s term of office? Not everything we see in the US – whether FDR or Bloomberg – is a “license to kill”.

What we want to mirror are ‘best practice’ models from wherever. But if we stick with the US for a bit, their commitment to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness is something we may want to understand, in the same manner that the Brits looked into it. And we can also look at our neighbors; but then again, we ought to focus on best practices. For example, our neighbors are younger yet they became Asian Tigers. Bottom line: Can we just learn to grow up and toss “sipsip” out the window – unless we want to be a nation adrift? “[T]he governing class inexorably develops an unrestrained craving for power and self-aggrandizement which ultimately manifests itself in the subjugation of the populace.” [Steve McCann, A nation adrift, American Thinker, 13th Nov 2012]

And we the elite class can do something about it? Because we have been party to the perpetuation of our cacique system and structure? Has Juan de la Cruz embraced the imperative of creating his own future? Can we say that we have a vision for PHL, for instance? And absent a vision, we can’t put together the ecosystem – or what makes an undertaking or enterprise tick – of an economy or a nation because 100 million of us would be at cross purposes, with “the populace subjugated by the ruling class”? Translation: inclusive growth or an inclusive economy is not about CCT. It is about economic development. Wikipedia: Modernization, Westernization, and especially Industrialization are other terms people have used while discussing economic development . . . Although nobody is certain when the concept originated, most people agree that development is closely bound up with the evolution of capitalism and the demise of feudalism.”

“In its new publication ASEAN 2030: Towards a Borderless Economic Community, the bank looked at long-term development issues for members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The region is expected to merge into one economic community in 2015.” [ADB tags long-term development challenges for the Philippines, Business World, 4th Aug 2014] “The Philippine economy is characterized by a relatively small, manufacturing sector, low investment, and the presence of several imbalances,” the ADB said.

“Uneven productivity across sectors, huge output gaps between large corporations and SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and unbalanced geographical distribution of income all need to be corrected to achieve sustained growth in the long run. The lender noted that the country’s high poverty incidence and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a select few pose challenges to the effective implementation of inclusive growth strategies. Prospects for environmental sustainability have worsened in recent years due to progressive deforestation and increasing urban pollution,” it said.

But then, “Having a young and educated work force, brought about by reforms in education, will make Filipinos very competitive compared to its peers in Southeast Asia . . . This, according to National Competitiveness Council private sector co-chair Guillermo M. Luz, will sustain the Philippines attractiveness as a “very good investment site well beyond 2030.”[Young work force to be a boon to investment-led growth, Daryll Edisonn D. Saclag, Business World, 7th Aug 2014]

In other words, can we ever put two and two together? How do we say that in the vernacular? But that’s why Rizal had to create Padre Damaso – to dramatize the state of incongruity and cognitive dissonance that we've accepted as our normal?

“Where did he learn to lead like this? Where does his vision come from? And what might the rest of us learn from him?” [Chris Lowney, Pope Francis, Why he leads the way he leads; Loyola Press, 2013, pp. 1-6] “After all, like the pope, we sometimes find ourselves thrust onto the metaphorical balcony: step up, it’s time to lead this department, your family, this classroom, or, as the case may be, the whole Catholic Church.”

“The skills I have most needed [as board chair of one of America’s largest health care and hospital systems] were not the narrow technical ones, but broader, all-encompassing ones, like making complicated decisions when the facts and my values collide; managing my priorities when fifteen things must be done before lunch; knowing when to play decisions safe and when to take major risks; and ultimately, figuring out what’s most important in life.”

“Too often those in leadership positions seem preoccupied only with their own status or income. They are unable to inspire or unite us; they are not imaginative enough to solve the seemingly intractable problems that plague us; they are afraid to make tough choices or even to level with us; and they are insufficiently courageous to lead us through challenge and drive change. Bluntly put, something is broken. We need new ways of reimagining leadership and better ways of preparing ourselves and others to lead.”

“Enter Pope Francis, the Jesuit pope. The paradoxes begin right there . . . [W]hy is a Jesuit pope in any way paradoxical? Simply because the Jesuit founder detested overweening personal ambition . . . Ignatius wanted Jesuits to be humble because Jesus, their role model, was humble. But he also understood how ambition and political infighting can shred organizational morale. So he was trying to rein in the human tendency to stroke one’s ego by seeking status, power, and advancement.”

“Pope Francis inherits a Church with wide-ranging, long-standing challenges; serious clergy shortages in dozens of countries, dwindling church attendance throughout the developed world, moral authority damaged by sex-abuses scandals, and, to judge by the public comments of various cardinals, a dysfunctional Vatican headquarters.”

“Such complex, multifaceted problems will not be resolved easily. Deep change will be needed and the pope’s early words and deeds make clear that he is committed to igniting massive cultural change across his Church.”
“Change agents certainly need competence and good judgment to succeed, but they also need courage, political savvy, iron will, and lots of luck.”

In the Philippines we believe that our culture is a great positive that we must embrace? And so we want more of the same?

Can we have visionary leadership like the one demonstrated by Pope Francis? We don’t need a pope, but we need one that can see beyond paternalism and populism – and retail politics. And even beyond “Pinoy abilidad”. That we can create our own future that is truly Filipino – i.e., we’re no longer, for the longest time, the colony of Spain or America? That, of course, presupposes change . . . as in maturity? But can we change, can we grow up? If we can’t . . . how can we ever put two and two together?

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