Monday, October 19, 2015

“Country is a legal fiction . . .”

“. . . A concept which not so many can grasp or understand. There are so many pretenders in this country who declare in discordant voices that they love this country, yet they enthrone dysfunctional and despicable systems which make the country an unjust and oppressive place to live in… ‘The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars, But in ourselves that we are underlings.’ – Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.” [Cry, The Beloved Country: A nationalist perspective, Homobono Adaza, The Manila Times, 16th Oct 2015]

“[W]e should teach our people – including the pretentious intelligentsia like the illustrados of old – what is love of country. For me, love of country should be defined in very plain and simple terms. For the overwhelming majority of our people, love of country is love for their family and their barangay because that is the only reality of country they know for the whole of their lifetime. For a few millions, probably it extends to their towns; for some hundreds of thousands, it extends to the provinces. Beyond that, it is a world which they don’t know and they cannot grasp.”

And how can we express love of country? “THE European and other ambassadors’ statement appearing in media today supporting the CAB and the BBL, whose constitutionality has been challenged by various sectors of Philippine society and which is now pending in the Supreme Court and being deliberated in Congress, show a lack of respect for Philippine laws and can be considered an undue interference in the affairs of a nation to which these ambassadors have been accredited.” [Statement of the Philippine Council on Foreign Relations on foreign ambassadors’ statement of support for BBL, The Manila Times Online, 16th Oct 2015]

“Before the statement is construed as exerting of undue influence by the diplomats on branches of this government, the PCFR therefore requests the above group to cease and desist in making statements like the one they have made and make an apology to the Philippine government.” [Signed for the Trustees and the general membership by Amb. Jose V. Romero, Jr. Ph.D., President, Philippine Council for Foreign Relations, Inc. The PCFR is composed retired ambassadors, multi-sectoral organizations, retired flag officers, members of academe, businessmen, and distinguished members of civil society.]

Indeed we have all the right to be offended. Still, among ourselves, love of country doesn’t end with making such a statement. For example, “It’s impossible to visit the battlefield of Gettysburg without being deeply moved. The Union and Confederate armies together suffered more than 50,000 casualties during the three-day battle.  The course of American history was changed forever by leaders making strategic decisions under grueling circumstances.” [Reflections on Leadership from Gettysburg, Paul Merrild, Harvard Business Review, 12th Oct 2015]

“When I recently spent three days wandering these hallowed grounds as part of a leadership retreat, I realized that my industry, health care — and others going through turbulent times — have much to learn from the hard-won lessons of Gettysburg. Here are a few insights that I gleaned:

“Convey the leader’s intent. Union Army General George Meade would sit down with his war council sometimes three or four times per day during the battle. This continual ‘confirmation of understanding’ allowed Meade to better to communicate with his commanders and soldiers the tactics and strategies needed to survive the Confederate push.

“This notion of the leader’s intent is an important one for all of us. The concept is simple: everyone in the chain of command must know clearly and concisely the mission’s objectives two levels above them and be able to communicate this information two levels below them. This understanding enables anyone in the army to make decisions ‘in the moment’ that are consistent with the overall strategic objective set by the general.”

This blog has constantly raised the challenge of visionary and strategic leadership that we Filipinos have yet to muster. And we are nowhere near that ideal if we go by how we are gearing up for the next presidential election. And beyond leadership is the imperative for Juan de la Cruz to see beyond self and family and embrace his bigger community, that is, the Philippines.

For instance, assume we want and will have the status quo in Mindanao – notwithstanding 17 years of efforts – how about Philippine progress and development? We can’t just talk up the imperative to fight poverty and demand an inclusive economy when country remains a legal fiction as Mr. Adaza eloquently opined: “There are so many pretenders in this country who declare in discordant voices that they love this country, yet they enthrone dysfunctional and despicable systems which make the country an unjust and oppressive place to live in.”

“But that’s because many of us are so insular in our thinking. That’s why even our Constitution is restrictive . . . We need to realize there is a world out there and we must compete for every dollar available for investment, domestic or foreign.” [Philippine investments abroad, Boo Chanco, DEMAND AND SUPPLY, The Philippine Star, 16th Oct 2015]

“Having placed into perspective this ‘flight’ of domestic capital abroad, it will also do us well to examine why, despite all the press releases, we are unable to get our FDI numbers comparable to our regional peers.”

The writer can only shake his head given such insularity in our thinking especially after his participation in the kickoff meeting with his Eastern European friends to signal the start of their budget review process. Twelve years ago they were a tiny enterprise in a former Soviet-satellite state; and today the relatively new colleagues, managers from the West, would be in awe as they got to know the company more. And these people have sterling credentials themselves, earned from some of the world’s best and largest enterprises.

And these friends have invested in other countries too yet the knowledge and expertise they’re gaining and bringing back home are invaluable. And visitors from halfway around the world would be the first to notice the world-class and best practice models – in the people and the local facility – that would welcome them. This supposed group of newbies from Eastern Europe, new to the free market system, demonstrated that to be an MNC doesn’t mean being from the West. That competitiveness is not exclusive to the West.

But to PHL it will always be – and perpetuate our oligarchic economy and the poverty that comes with it – unless we shed our inward-looking parochial instincts? And grasp and understand the concept of country?

“It was only in Mindanao that 54 percent of the respondents said they will choose candidates who will support the BBL.” [Poll: Voters will junk BBL backers, Joyce Pangco Panares, The Standard, 15th Oct 2015]

Does the poll in fact confirm that because of our parochial orientation and bias, only Mindanao would be supportive of the efforts for peace in Mindanao? And we’re insulted that foreigners have come to our rescue? Yet even the Irish worked through their peace process with the guidance of foreigners! But we read the BBL as dismembering the country – owing to the Muslim minority even when the 54% would not be all Muslims? But then again, what do we mean by country?

Should we Pinoys wake up to the here and now – and face the natural phenomenon of and adapt to change? Does it explain our backwardness – as in being the regional laggard – in more ways than one? The evidence? Consider: decades have gone behind the fiasco that is NAIA 3; 17 years behind peace efforts in Mindanao; and it will take a generation even at 7% GDP growth for us to become a developed economy. But that is a big if given how we keep shooting ourselves in the foot!

And do we want to be held down by the primacy of law – a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye – not unlike the Pharisees that couldn’t claim wisdom . . . and were the anti-Christ?

“The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars, But in ourselves that we are underlings.”

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