Sunday, December 28, 2014


“‘To be honest, nothing like this has ever happened before'. Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, the former Vatican governor and foreign minister, does not hide his surprise. ‘It is the first time this has happened; never before had a Pope set us in the Curia a series of pathologies that we must examine ourselves on.’ All along, says the cardinal who has been head of some of the most important offices of the Holy See for many years, ‘the exchange of Christmas wishes has been a customary occasion, that follows a usual pattern.’” [Pope Francis: the fifteen 'diseases' of the Curia, Vatican Insider, 23rd Dec 2014]

“‘A curia that does not practice self-criticism, does not keep up to date, does not try to better itself is an infirm Body.’ The Pope mentions that a visit to cemeteries could help us see the names of many who ‘maybe thought they were immortal, exempt and essential!’ It is the disease of those who 'turn into masters and feel superior to everyone rather than in the service of all people. It often comes from the pathology of power, the ‘Messiah complex’ and narcissism.’”

In other words, we as a people better examine our conscience – or in secular terms, where are we? If we are to be like a Singapore being more competitive than the US, for example, every time the latter drops the ball, how should we react? In a highly competitive and globalized world, as I would explain it to my Eastern European friends, it is a vulnerability that must be exploited. And in concrete terms, it means ratcheting up their efforts in innovation and creativity. And that is how they are able to beat Western behemoths in their own game.

We Pinoys, on the other hand, don't have to assume that we're feeble and would catch a cold when Uncle Sam sneezes, if not blown away. And if they drop the ball, that ought to be an opportunity for us to assert ourselves. But we can't do that if we keep shooting ourselves in the foot, perpetuating a culture of impunity and celebrating an oligarchic economy. For example, I didn’t have to ask my friends if they wanted to eschew socialism or communism because from the get-go they asked for help – to learn and thrive in a free market.

It isn't about embracing an ism. It is about being mature enough to know what one wants having recognized and acknowledged their shortcomings. “Manila lags in information technology maturity,” Amy R. Remo, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 22nd Dec 2014. There are two legs that keep our economy going, OFW remittances – that put our gross international reserves ahead of foreign debts, yet taken as brownie points by the CB when 10 million Pinoys deserve the credit; ergo failing to recognize and acknowledge PHL’s shortcomings – and the BPO industry. If we are to exploit our competitive advantage in the BPO industry, we must not lag in information technology maturity!

Juan de la Cruz cannot be about me and myself! “In a speech titled ‘A Paradigm for the Happy Life,’ Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago writes that ‘every day, many people pursue their self-interest at the expense of others,’ and argues further that ‘self-interest becomes a moral evil when selfish politicians make our people suffer in hunger and poverty.’” [Structural injustice in PH, Christopher Ryan Maboloc, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 23rd Dec 2014]

We cannot afford such self-inflicted wounds and then some. In the latest Economic Issue of the Day release of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), author Claudette S. Malana said lifting restrictions on foreign ownership will be necessary in order for the country to fully participate in the Asean Economic Community (AEC).” [‘60-40 rule to limit PHL’s development under AEC’, Cai Ordinario, Business Mirror, 21st Dec 2014]

“Malana said limits to foreign equity in the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources; public utilities; build-operate-transfer projects, operation of deep-sea commercial vessels, land ownership, mass media, and the practice of professions have kept the country’s FDI low. To sustain the growth of the Philippine economy, these restrictions need to be examined and amended, as they have constrained FDI . . . Under the AEC, Asean companies, Filipino firms included, can own 100 percent of companies in other Asean countries and should be able to own at least 70 percent of services companies . . . Malana’s data showed that the Philippines’s FDI only increased to $2.8 billion in 2012, while Singapore, was at $56.65 billion and Indonesia $19.62 billion.”

But President Aquino does not see that as a priority? “I teach a course on ethics at the McCombs School of Business and have run the McCombs Speaker Series on Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility for the last seven years. I have had many speakers share their stories with our community, including people convicted of very serious corporate crimes. Despite a popular conception of governmental and corporate crime as stemming either from rampant greed throughout the ranks, or from the solitary crimes of a few misfits, in my experience unethical behavior in organizations almost always is caused by belief in and too much loyalty to a ‘great leader’ who turns out to be morally compromised.” [Loyalty to a Leader Is Overrated, Even Dangerous, Julie Irwin, Harvard Business Review, 16th Dec 2014]

“For example, take the experience of one of my most popular guest speakers, Egil ‘Bud’ Krogh, one of the Watergate co-conspirators. In his excellent book about his crimes and his prison time, Integrity: Good People, Bad Choices, and Life Lessons from the White House, Bud recounts the 1970 spring day when President Nixon left the White House to reflect at the Lincoln Memorial, and ended up chatting with a number of student anti-war protestors while sitting on the lawn. Bud writes that, ‘the profound quiet of the Lincoln Memorial blended beautifully with the changing morning colors,’ and that he felt ‘a sense of amazement and awe that I had just witnessed one of history’s most extraordinary presidential visits.’ It is clear in his prose that Nixon held enormous heroic sway over his young employee. The chapter in the book that directly follows this tableau is entitled, ‘Ensnared in Watergate by Blind Loyalty’: as often happens, somehow Bud’s belief in the specialness of Nixon got tangled up with belief in the need to do whatever Nixon asked, even if what he asked for was in retrospect pretty ridiculous and definitely unethical (i.e., approving the burglary of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist).”

And it’s not limited to the West, even Deng Xiaoping acknowledged to his daughter that he should’ve called Mao’s Big Leap Forward a folly. And not surprisingly, Pope Francis talked about The disease of deifying the leaders. It is the disease of those who ‘court their superiors,’ becoming victims of ‘careerism and opportunism’ and ‘live their vocation thinking only of what they must gain and not of what they must give.’ It might also affect the superiors ‘when they court some of their collaborators in order to gain their submission, loyalty and psychological dependence, but the final result is real complicity.’”

Sadly, we in the elite class are a big part of that complicity. In the name of love of family and to secure their future, we’ve put up with, if not partaken of the spoils of, our cacique hierarchical system and structure that nurtures a culture of impunity . . . and perpetuates political patronage, crony capitalism and an oligarchic economy.

“In fact, the 2014 Fragile (formerly Failed) States Index ranks the Philippines fifth among ten whose situations alarmingly worsened from 2013. Rated by Fund for Peace, the country slipped to 52nd, from 59th last year, among countries susceptible to disintegration (see” [Phl among Top 10 worsened states, Jarius Bondoc, Gotcha, The Philippine Star, 24th Dec 2014]

We as a people better examine our conscience – or in secular terms, where are we?

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