Monday, June 13, 2016

Sub-optimized aka “pwede na ‘yan”

We may be the regional laggard but that won’t change our being a happy people. Except Juan de la Cruz voted for the antiestablishment?

Because we want a better nation? And there lies the dilemma. While we profess to want change, we really don’t welcome change and consequently are in constant sub-optimized mode? Nothing to worry, there’s “manna from heaven”? From cronies and oligarchs to Juan de la Cruz, we crave for pennies from heaven aka largesse from government?

But who is minding the store, cum our adult supervision, the JFC? Pushing us to pursue enterprises that will give a quantum leap to our economic output? That is the crisis that stares us – not poverty – that over 10 million OFWs had to seek employment overseas. But as a nation we’re fixated on the effect not the cause?

The distinction has been lost to us? Because we assume that a political system is the panacea? That the government collects tons of taxes that must be shared with each of us – instead of Napoles and our corrupt politicians – and poverty will disappear? And what is reality? The problem starts with the young – who may not necessarily be poor but are bound to be!

“More than 1 million young Filipinos are jobless,” Cai Ordinario, Business Mirror, 9th Jun 2016. “Moreover, some 23.8 percent of the total young working population were neither in school or the labor force, implying that 4.7 million young Filipinos are underutilized, as their skills are not being honed by education, training or employment.”

We’re barking at the wrong tree? It’s not poverty, duh! Yet we like to lecture our neighbors: “to transform itself into an engine of genuine growth . . . to be fairer, more humane.” Yes, that’s our Finance Secretary speaking, probably talking to us too? Indeed, we’re proud because we have a “vibrant economy” according to our Economic Planning Secretary? All the more raising the expectations of Juan de la Cruz?

Our economic performance is the outcome of an evolution, not one designed to be competitive and sustainable in the 21st century. And it is primarily driven by OFW remittances and the BPO industry – and not for the administration to claim credit for – and why we call it a consumption economy. We’re not producing products marketable [meaning, competitive; there is no free lunch] beyond our shores unlike the Asian tigers. And that is why we cannot create jobs and why the push from the JFC.

European family friends would talk about the Greek islands as a favorite holiday destination and also the beaches of Thailand. Where they could be themselves, i.e., there’s very little in terms of what one can’t do. There is no need for pretensions, just be yourself.

We’ve been true to ourselves for decades – parochial, hierarchical, paternalistic, political patronage and dynasties, cronyism and oligarchy? And why ours is a culture of impunity, not the rule of law?

“Unless You’re Oprah, ‘Be Yourself’ Is Terrible Advice,” Adam Grant, The New York Times, 4th June 2016; Adam Grant, a professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, is the author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.

“How much you aim for authenticity depends on a personality trait called self-monitoring. If you’re a high self-monitor, you’re constantly scanning your environment for social cues and adjusting accordingly.

“But if you’re a low self-monitor, you’re guided more by your inner states, regardless of your circumstances. In one fascinating study, when a steak landed on their plates, high self-monitors tasted it before pouring salt, whereas low self-monitors salted it first. As the psychologist Brian Little explains, ‘It is as though low self-monitors know their salt personalities very well.’

“Low self-monitors criticize high self-monitors as chameleons and phonies. They’re right that there’s a time and place for authenticity.

“But in the rest of our lives, we pay a price for being too authentic. High self-monitors advance faster and earn higher status, in part because they’re more concerned about their reputations. And while that would seem to reward self-promoting frauds, these high self-monitors spend more time finding out what others need and helping them.

“Interestingly, women are more likely to be low self-monitors than men, perhaps because women face stronger cultural pressures to express their feelings. Sadly, that puts them at risk for being judged weak or unprofessional.

“But even high self-monitors can suffer from the belief in authenticity because it presupposes that there is a true self, a bedrock to our personalities that’s a combination of our convictions and abilities. As the psychologist Carol Dweck has long shown, merely believing that there’s a fixed self can interfere with growth.

“Children who see abilities as fixed give up after failure; managers who believe talent is fixed fail to coach their employees. ‘As we strive toimprove our game, a clear and firm sense of self is a compass that helps us navigate choices and progress toward our goals,’ Herminia Ibarra, a professor of organizational behavior at the business school Insead, notes. ‘When we’re looking to change our game, a too rigid self-concept becomes an anchor that keeps us from sailing forth.’

“If not our authentic selves, what should we be striving to reach? Decades ago, the literary critic Lionel Trilling gave us an answer that sounds very old-fashioned to our authentic ears: sincerity. Instead of searching for our inner selves and then making a concerted effort to express them, Trilling urged us to start with our outer selves. Pay attention to how we present ourselves to others, and then strive to be the people we claim to be.
“Rather than changing from the inside out, you bring the outside in.”

And from Insead in France we travel to Bulgaria where people remain proud of their heritage – their authentic self. And where the writer indulges in one particular cheap thrill on weekends – and the experience is no longer new – and that is to ride the subway to the center of Sofia. It’s a short two stations away. But if New Yorkers take the subway matter-of-factly, why not in Sofia? The big difference is New York’s subway is an embarrassment. And inspired the movie, from decades ago, Ben – the rat.

The revelation comes from all the negative connotations attached to Bulgaria. They still have one oligarchic family – out of the three – that took over the economy during the transition from Soviet-rule to free market and practices carried over from their police-state past. And yet despite being a proud people – in more ways than one – somehow the desire to move forward as a nation is there.

They kicked out the socialist-led government because of blatant corruption through daily protest rallies that the world and the EU took note – and threw its weight behind the people. [In a way it replicates our own People Power: “Mr. President, I am not bound by diplomatic restraints. I am talking only for myself, I think you should cut and cut cleanly. I think the time has come.” Yet lately, whenever outsiders or even the UN would offer their two cents we would be offended? For interfering on something internal and violating our sovereignty? See Rizal re tyranny below. Or why did the world have to intervene in Kosovo, in Kuwait, in Syria, etc.?]

From the new airport to the subway to the highway to the seaside (a distance of over 380 km. and traversed today in a mere 3.5 hrs.) – and the highway to Greece is progressing as well – this writer is still shaking his head in disbelief.

Thirteen years ago – the first time they came – as the plane his wife and this writer were on taxied to the terminal building in Sofia, the first snowfall of the season came. And images of Siberia raced through their heads. And when the structure became visible, there was no mistaking – this place was frozen in time. NAIA would be heaven.

But back to the subway. They just raised the fare 60%, and who gave a hoot? Nada! Probably some people did but there was no civil unrest. These people must instinctively know that infrastructure is an imperative – and that there is no free lunch.

These people are far from perfect. They value their authentic self. And they say it in a self-deprecating manner: “Hubaba rabota ama Bulgarska.” “Good job but Bulgarian.” In a word, sub-optimized or to us Pinoys, “pwede na ‘yan.”

And so in our case we can’t free EDSA of protected buses or move beyond the jeepney? Wittingly or not, we’re in a race to the bottom? What happened to national character? To be soft yet tyrannical isn't what we want to be – if we are to thrive in the 21st century?

Wasn’t character the first lesson man learned when he was driven out of Eden? In other words, man is not to be sheltered nor entitled? And why to be sheltered – from upbringing to parochial to insular – and a cacique hierarchical system and structure are assumptions we have to revisit?

What is the root of our culture of impunity? Think Marcos and they all come together as a vicious cycle! Insular = Hierarchy = Exempt from restitution = Impunity = Entitled = Insular. Why has the world left us behind? It has moved past aristocracy into the rule of law expressed in freedom and democracy and the free enterprise.

And why the blog has consistently summarized our way of life: parochial, hierarchical, paternalistic, political patronage and dynasties, cronyism and oligarchy.

“Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.” [We are ruled by Rizal’s ‘tyrants of tomorrow,’ Editorial, The Manila Times, 29th Dec 2015]

“As a major component for the education and reorientation of our people, mainstream media – their reporters, writers, photographers, columnists and editors – have an obligation to this country . . .” [Era of documented irrelevance: Mainstream media, critics and protesters, Homobono A. Adaza, The Manila Times, 25th Nov 2015]

“Development [is informed by a people’s] worldview, cognitive capacity, values, moral development, self-identity, spirituality, and leadership . . .” [Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, Nelson Parker, 2014]

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