The West sees Putin as irrational yet in Russia his popularity is soaring. And he has gotten the church behind him. “The pilgrims tramped toward the storied monastery by the thousands — chanting prayers, singing and embracing the kind of nationalist fervor that President Vladimir V. Putin seeks to harness as his own . . . But amid that tide of pilgrims — official estimates hovered around 30,000 — swirled diverse political and religious currents related to Mr. Putin’s effort to cast himself as the defender of traditional values, a campaign that has become more pronounced since Russia’s involvement with Ukraine.” [Putin Strives to Harness Energy of Russian Pilgrims for Political Profit, Neil MacFarquhar, The New York Times, 2nd Aug 2014]

And while many Russians like Putin believe Ukrainians are Russians, and many Ukrainians agree, Ukrainians still are offended when their language is called Russian: “No, it’s Ukrainian.” And the Bulgarians will want to referee, “you both derived yours from ours.” And visitors to Bulgaria will most likely come across the following: “Canonical recognition of the Slavonic alphabet came in 879 when the Slavonic books were sanctified by Pope Johann VIII. For centuries on, Europe had only one Patron acknowledged by canon law – Saint Benedict. Then, in 20th century – in 1979, Pope John Paul II proclaimed the creators of the Slavonic alphabet, the Bulgarian Saints Cyril and Methodius, to also be Patrons of Europe . . . The Old Bulgarian language was the basis of Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, and Croatian variants and gained the significance of a universal literary Slavonic language.”

I’m always reminded of the Slavonic language when I am in Eastern Europe like recently as we did rounds of business reviews. Between the Ukrainians and Bulgarians, they could be speaking in Russian, but the Romanians would do English. By design my Bulgarian friend doesn’t attend because we realized that people elevate their brainstorming and problem-solving skills when they own the business-review process; although he participates when budgets are being put together. But I do drop in to listen but more to watch the body language if not the passion of the discussions or read a chart flashed on the screen – which could be all that I would comprehend. They believed that they’d be more creative when speaking in their preferred language – but all charts are in English. Sometimes they would look and even ask me to say something – or they may not but if a “teachable moment” presents itself, I would give my two cents.

Wikipedia: “The concept was popularized by Robert Havighurst in his 1952 book, Human Development and Education. In the context of education theory, Havighurst explained: A developmental task is a task which is learned at a specific point and which makes achievement of succeeding tasks possible. When the timing is right, the ability to learn a particular task will be possible. This is referred to as a ‘teachable moment.’ It is important to keep in mind that unless the time is right, learning will not occur. Hence, it is important to repeat important points whenever possible so that when a student's teachable moment occurs, s/he can benefit from the knowledge.’

And they would be riveted to hear a story or two that would demonstrate the point under discussion. “I’m here to tell you stories which would perhaps remind you of your grandparents. And I probably didn’t learn the import of a story the first time I encountered it, and so you may want to keep it in your back pockets in case you are faced with something similar in future. For example, we all know Pareto’s principle such that perhaps we’re not mindful of its relevance; yet we’re always faced with an array of choices only to regret our actions after the fact, simply because we missed the object of the exercise and opted for what was convenient over what was right.”

Reading the “wish lists” from different groups after the SONA of President Aquino would make one wonder: are we there yet? “The speech began with something already familiar: the President whining about how difficult his job is. He compares his job to simultaneously watching 200 channels on cable TV, anticipating developments on each one at the same instant.”[Me, FIRST PERSON, Alex Magno, The Philippine Star, 31st July 2014]

“That might not be the best analogy. Watching 200 channels simultaneously produces information overload. The consequence can only be confusion and bad judgment. The literature on management suggests the contrary. Focus on one problem at a time. Deal with it comprehensively and contextually. Then move quickly to the next one. There are no shortcuts and no substitute for longer working hours. There is only so much the mind can do. Even an Albert Einstein would not watch 200 channels simultaneously. Although he wondered about the entire universe and nothing less, Einstein focused on a few theorems at a time.”

Unfortunately we Pinoys can’t seem to buy into the imperative of focus? We’re inclined to be accommodating? It is our definition of inclusive? But is that how crab mentality has come to define us? Yet we wonder why despite “daang matuwid” PHL isn’t even close to being an inclusive economy and nation?

Are we there yet? “In Cebu City, [Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene] Almendras announced the adoption of the outcome-based performance informed budgeting (PIB) strategy in the proposed national budget. The PIB is a scheme that uses performance information to assist in deciding where the funds will go.” [P2.6T national budget has P500B lump sum, Carmel Loise Matus,DJ YapLeila B. SalaverriaInquirer Visayas, 31st July 2014]

“Performance information include the purpose of the funds required, the outputs that would be produced or the services that would be rendered, the outcomes that would be achieved by the services, and the cost of the programs and activities proposed to achieve the objectives. The PIB . . . is different from the traditional line item-based budgeting as it focuses more on outputs and outcomes, and places less emphasis on inputs.”

“Start with the end in view” is a principle that indeed we can learn from the West especially if we are to move PHL from retail politics and populist leadership to visionary leadership – as well as to develop our capacity for innovation and competitiveness. “I want to see a phonograph in every American home,” so said the father of modern R&D in America, Edison.

Beyond looking inward and backward is looking outward and forward? And which we have yet to embrace? The evidence: it’s the 21st century and we still haven't got infrastructure development down pat? News item: “SC stops LRT-MRT common station.” But we don’t even bat an eyelash because we’ve accepted our normal – of being a disaster waiting to happen? We have become synonymous to inefficiency? Remember NAIA 3 and a string of other fiascos? Constancy of inefficiency is what mediocrity is – which explains our poor rankings in innovation and competitiveness! Because in the Philippines, infrastructure development is another nesting place for oligarchy and political patronage? And given our value system we take it as a given? What are we missing? If the CBCP is able to recognize what Rizal failed to make the church to acknowledge – i.e., that it is a sick institution – what changed? Is it leadership . . . represented by Francis? And in the private sector leadership has been articulated as visionary leadership.

After WWII and when he became president, Eisenhower, inspired by the autobahn in Germany that awed him during the war as commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, pushed the rapid development of the US highway system. And when the EU brought the poorer countries into its fold, it prioritized infrastructure development that benefited Spain and Portugal, for instance. And later Central and Eastern European countries.

Einstein acknowledged The Creator because he recognized the genius behind the ecosystem that is the universe. In other words, man may have the capacity to create an ecosystem in pursuit of progress and development but it will never be to that level. While an ecosystem is defined as a complex network or interconnected system, it can be as familiar as a university ecosystem, for example. Or as complex as Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. In PHL all we need, but badly, is a more basic ecosystem – of basic infrastructure and an industrial base, for instance.

Are we there yet? We better hurry or PHL shall indeed be defined as a disaster waiting to happen?