Thursday, February 15, 2018

Perception and reality …

“Certainly, this is not distinction we can take pride in. We can also reasonably say that our disregard for the truth —worse, our indifference to getting to the bottom of things—stems from the proliferation of misleading or downright false articles we see on social media every day.

“This means, too, that parents, mentors and educators have their work cut out for them. We will be for the worse raising a generation of uncritical, unquestioning young people who take everything they see at face value. And as we advise the young to be discerning, let us also set a good example by being, ourselves, more diligent in receiving and passing on information. Then, our confidence would be founded.” [The perils of perception, Editorial, Manila Standard, 10th Feb 2018]

“Are Filipino perceptions sometimes far removed from the reality? Absolutely. Are Filipinos overconfident about the accuracy of their perceptions? Obviously. Perhaps, though, this has more to do with 100 million Filipinos of huge disparity of wealth, education and access to reliable information spread over thousands of islands, rather than ‘stupid’ as the Filipino bashers want us to believe.” [Ignorant Filipinos(?), Editorial, BusinessMirror, 8th Feb 2018]

“It is also clear from our 'Misperceptions Index' that the countries who tend to do worst have relatively low internet penetrations: given this is an online study, this will reflect the fact that this more middle class and connected population think the rest of their countries are more like them than they really are,” said Ipsos Public Affairs Managing Director Bobby Duffy.

“It is this population – that tends to have wrong perceptions, and assumes it is representative of most of the country – that is also online and engages in social media conversations.” [Why worry about Filipinos online being 'most ignorant'(?), Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler.com, 8th Feb 2018]

Do we in the elite class and the chattering classes represent the “middle class and connected population”? Do we also “think the rest of the country are more like us than they really are”? To look at it objectively, let’s think of the approval ratings of Donald Trump, the most recent being 40% (the average for his term is 38%, one year as of 20th Jan.) Trump should not surprise given he plays to his base, even when they don’t represent the rest of the country.

For example, do we recognize that we can talk about self-actualization because we don’t have to worry about our physiological needs? But Juan de la Cruz does. Recall Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. 

Should we talk about happiness instead of our income per person as a nation? Or the environment? What has our lack of foresight done to Boracay? Boracay may be a teeny tiny island. But what about the tragedies attributable to our denuded forests?

Can we align perception with reality? Let’s establish a handful of predicates: We are the regional laggard. Our poverty is higher than our neighbors especially the Asian Tigers, including China. Vietnam has overtaken us in FDIs and exports given their focus on FDIs and industrialization.

We know that it is better to teach Juan de la Cruz how to fish instead of giving him fish? Yet we are driving livelihood initiatives instead of industry and exports? Calling our economists to clarify the distinction given the multiplier effect of investment.

Recall Arangkada. It is so yesterday? That is where we must align perception with reality if we want to move this nation forward, and be like the Asian Tigers.

Now we are debating whether we should be pro-China or the West? So, a decades-old issue (kicking out the US military) has come home to roost? Recall the sense of foresight that makes man superior to the rest of creation. And history says Lee, Mahathir and Deng demonstrated the foresight that our string of leaderships has yet to manifest? More to the point, do we recall how Deng stepped up to address China’s poverty?

But we confuse the symptoms from the cause, and don’t truly appreciate the efforts behind China’s rise to power, reflective of our underdeveloped foresight. And our caste system where destiny and permanence rules not opportunity and social mobility.

What is missing in our effort to align perception with reality? That we are helpless and need one or the other superpowers? Yet we like to add fuel to the fire?

Do we remember that respect is earned not demanded? Now think of the 39 nations that condemned EJKs, including those that lived through tyrannical rule. From the frying pan and into the fire, is what they sense Juan de la Cruz is up to. In other words, what planet are we from?

And consider: Every nation started out poor. Where is the disconnect? Why have we not stepped up to the plate? To traverse the journey from poverty to prosperity, Lee, Mahathir and Deng begged for Western money and technology.

What happened to cause-and-effect? Is critical thinking dead because of RHIP? Rank has its privileges translates to our deference to hierarchy while expecting paternalism in return? We deferred to the West but they’re not obliging on the paternalism front? They are not respectful of our sovereignty?

Think of the despots that galvanized the community of nations to stand up and be counted. Or have we forgotten? We’re not being singled out. We embrace and love tyranny – that’s why we’ve become the pariah.

Recall how much penalty the EU will impose on the U.K. for Brexit. And something else the writer witnessed: The EU once suspended the infrastructure facility against Bulgaria when it was ascertained that the government looted the treasury and why the people staged daily protests until the government stepped down.

The rule of law governs the community of nations despite ours being a culture of impunity! Sadly, we’re oblivious of its import even when it has in fact sunk us to the depths – of regional laggard.

Let’s embrace China and Russia? Because we are rebelling against the West? How infantile do we wish to be? Where is the disconnect? Permanence is not of this world. Empires come and go. Think Rome and all the way to the Soviet empire.

Nations seek friends to be part of the community of nations despite the latter’s imperfection. And there will always be despot – like Satan was right there in Eden.

Singapore is respected by the community of nations – for their role in moving civilization forward. And do we want to rank Du30 ahead of Lee? Because we question the community of nations in defense of tyranny? Why have we not debated Rizal and be geared to align perspective with reality?

Where is the rub? We are underdeveloped and the regional laggard. That is what we must step up to. But we won’t ever if we continue to take our “culture” for granted: We are parochial and insular. We defer to hierarchy and expect paternalism in return. We value and rely on patronage and political dynasties and oligarchy.

What is our solution? Be pro-China and Russia and change our system of government to federalism. Where is the rub? Where is the disconnect?

That we in the elite class and the chattering classes represent the rest of the country? Do we realize that we’ve wasted two generations? If that is our currency, where is the omnipotence?


Now I know why Paul dared to speak of ‘the curse of the law’ (Galatians 3:13). Law reigns and discernment is unnecessary, which means there is little growth or change in such people. When you do not grow, you remain an infant.” [Faith and Science, Open to Change, Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, 23rd Oct 2017]

“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]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” [William Pollard, 1911-1989, physicist-priest, Manhattan Project]

“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]

Friday, February 9, 2018

Big data & analytics and PH economic development

No need to fear such big words. There is a commonsensical and pragmatic way to handle them. The key is to understand the object of the exercise.
 
The blog is on its 9th year. And if it isn’t obvious yet, despite the slew of data those curious about the economy will confront, the blog from day-one highlighted PH levels of investments and FDIs against our exports – and our GDP – compared to our neighbors.

There are two perspectives to consider when we view information: (a) as an analyst or (b) as a leadership. Analysts want an abundance of data; leadership less so. And it boils down to the object of the exercise. Leadership must bring greater foresight given the demands of leadership, i.e., to establish the vision of the enterprise as well as the strategy to bring it about.

Nine years since the blog’s birth, what is the picture of PH investments? We’ve raised our investment levels … yet still lag in FDIs and exports. But we’re into: (a) Build, Build, Build; (b) TRAIN – to fund the former and social safety nets; and (c) we feel good about the uptick in manufacturing.

While Arangkada seems to have lost the spotlight? We believe we’re focused on Build, Build, Build because it is key to attract investment. Still, when all is said and done, we remain inward-looking. Leadership must keep an eye on the outcome, i.e., make PH a developed economy and nation. Leadership is beyond logical yet linear and incremental thinking.

And why the blog constantly speaks to the imperative – connect the dots. More to the point, we need an industry base like the 7 big industry winners in Arangkada – that will create the platform for an industrialization effort. To quote Arangkada: “The development path of each of Asia’s advanced and middle-income economies has been characterized by strong growth of the industrial sector and large shifts of workers from lower value-added agriculture and services into higher-value manufacturing and exports. This has yet to take place in the Philippines on a sufficiently large scale.”

And recall the latest UN SDGs (sustainable development goals): (a) rapid infrastructure development; (b) industrialization; and (c) innovation and competitiveness. In other words, PH leadership must keep an eye, beyond Build, Build, Build, on industrialization and innovation and competitiveness.

Let’s get back to big data and analytics. There’s a couple of principles inherent in big data and analytics that go against the grain of populism. One is the 80-20 rule and the other is the force-field theory of Kurt Lewin. We know the 80-20 rule, so let’s go to Kurt Lewin. “Successful change is achieved by either strengthening the driving forces or weakening the restraining forces … The force field analysis integrates with Lewin’s three stage theory of change as you work towards unfreezing the existing equilibrium, moving towards the desired change, and then freezing the change at the new level so that a new equilibrium exists that resists further change.”

More of the same – i.e., insanity – cannot move PH forward. But let’s get back to the 80-20 rule. And this is from an economic briefing the writer attended three years ago: The PH economy is skewed to specific regions: Luzon (from Hacienda Luisita down to Metro Manila and Calabarzon) accounts for 2/3 of the economy; but with Cebu and Davao plus Cagayan de Oro, altogether they would represent the bulk of PHL’s economy – $321.2-B as of latest estimates.

The 80-20 rule is a restatement of the laws of physics: where there is momentum and weight and mass there is energy or power. In other words, there is nothing wrong with getting 2/3 or the bulk of the economy growing like crazy. We are going against nature if we try to impede such force. Enter, Kurt Lewin. There are two things to remember: (a) to strengthen what makes the biggest regions such an economic force; (b) to weaken the restraining forces of the rest of the economy. In other words, we must figure out both sides of the equation.

Drive the growth of imperial Manila (including the rest of the Luzon region) like crazy and make the other regions robust economic forces too. And that means raising their respective contributions to the aggregate goods and services PH produces – or GDP.

It has nothing to do with federalism. [Is Du30 and family the best argument for federalism, i.e., local lords and impunity will proliferate? Raising Du30 as a model means he demonstrates transparency. He doesn’t obstruct justice, i.e., think of what’s happening to the Trump WH. He submits to the rule of law that he pledged to uphold. Sadly, our instincts of deference to hierarchy – while expecting paternalism in return – are in full display. See below re we love tyranny.]

MNCs operating in over 200 markets or countries do it all the time, that is, drive the revenues of these markets like crazy. The bigger ones will get the largest resources because they will yield the greatest returns as we know from the laws of physics. Yet, markets with smaller contributions are subject to the lens of big data & analytics – i.e., to overcome their restraining forces and thus raise their contributions.

How do they apply to PH economic development? Recall the example on how to connect the dots, i.e., it’s like playing solitaire where the deck of 52 cards equals big data; while the analytics exercise must yield the four suits – of Hearts, Spades, Diamonds and Clubs.

The PH top exports are: (1) Electrical machinery, equipment: US$25.2 billion (44.8% of total exports); (2) Machinery including computers: $7.8 billion (13.8%); (3) Wood: $2.9 billion (5.1%); (4) Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $2.5 billion (4.4%); (5) Vehicles: $1.4 billion (2.5%); (6) Ores, slag, ash: $1.3 billion (2.2%); (7) Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $1.2 billion (2.1%); (8) Fruits, nuts: $1.1 billion (2%); (9) Ships, boats: $1 billion (1.8%); (10) Gems, precious metals: $757.4 million (1.3%).

Think of the 80-20 rule. While we can develop other industries, the top exports give us a head start … We must be a globally respected if not dominant player in these industries ... How do we then pull these export drivers and the regional drivers together? Which and where must these top exports reside?

We must be globally competitive. That means an industry must reside where we have the greatest chances – given the factors demanded by the supply chain – to attain global competitiveness. That perspective will take out the blinder – our bias on the local economy – and open our eyes to the world.

These industries need a network of auxiliary industries to complete the supply chain – from raw materials to logistics and beyond. It is the first step to figure out which other regions can be part of the ecosystem. If we can get the bulk of the economy firing on all cylinders – i.e., driven by innovation and globally competitive – we will attain an inclusive economy. But we must fling “pwede na ‘yan” and “crab mentality” to comprehend what foresight brings.

The rest of the regions that can’t be part of the above supply chain can concentrate on their local economies and the Philippine market – which isn’t small. But consistent with the 80-20 rule – i.e., our economic managers can employ their fiscal tools accordingly: dispense incentives where they must and withhold when warranted. And like farm teams, once innovation and competitiveness migrates to our psyche, the excellent ones will bubble up to merit a place in the highly competitive global arena.

The bottom line: We must drive industry and exports (not livelihood, which has kept us the regional laggard) like crazy if we are to overcome poverty. It is where we must spend our waking hours not in defense of tyranny. More to the point, Du30 – like Marcos – can’t match the leadership of a Lee or Mahathir or Deng, to lead us to prosperity. Go figure. See below re people go with winners not losers. The corollary: tyrants demand sovereignty.

If we can figure out (and toss the politics) where these top industries must be located, we will likewise be equipped (not misinformed by vested and parochial interests) with a better blue print for Build, Build, Build – from energy and beyond. As well as to pursue industrialization and innovation and competitiveness.

Remember these industries must constantly move up the value chain to compete and win in the global arena. Benchmarking – i.e., 360-degree, from technology and beyond – against competition and truly understanding human needs are critical in innovation and competitiveness.

We will attract far greater FDIs if we have the building blocks of development in place, that is, we’re geared to make PH a developed economy and nation. People go with winners not losers. And we gain their respect as we advance civilization. Respect – like love – begets respect.

But we – including our economists – must commit to change course. Also, our politicians and industry and education, too. Democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

“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]

Now I know why Paul dared to speak of ‘the curse of the law’ (Galatians 3:13). Law reigns and discernment is unnecessary, which means there is little growth or change in such people. When you do not grow, you remain an infant.” [Faith and Science, Open to Change, Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, 23rd Oct 2017]

“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]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” [William Pollard, 1911-1989, physicist-priest, Manhattan Project]
 
“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]

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

It’s time to change … course

That’s lifted from the article, “Time to change course,” Jesusa C. Francisco, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 4th Feb 2018. “The time has come to embrace the change posed to educators about teaching and learning in the 21st century, characterized as technology-driven, learner-centered, information-laden, diverse and participative.

“The advent of technology has dramatically and remarkably transformed the pedagogical landscape in the Philippine educational system. There’s no way one can turn back time and go back to the old-school classroom pedagogy. Teachers may sink or swim, fight or flee, succumb to obsolescence or face the challenge head-on.”

Simply, we must recognize that dynamism is the enemy of parochialism and insularity. Recall the British Isles. “Islands don’t lend themselves to grand plans and big theories …

“Britain’s understanding of itself – its identity and its place in the world – is deeply rooted in being an island. Yet Great Britain … is made up of at least 5,000 islands, around 130 of which are inhabited. But this geographical reality has often been ignored, because island, in the singular, brings with it the attractive characteristics of inviolability, steadfastness and detachment.

“British culture has a long-standing love affair with islands … Britain’s detachment from continental Europe brought a degree of protection from invasion, and was God’s … blessing for a chosen … people.

“But there has also been an English ambivalence about islands … John Donne warned of the dangers of separation … ‘No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.’

“Islands can throw you off course; they are places of the unexpected, and that is part of their appeal. This is particularly true of the Hebrides. They disrupt the best laid plans, sabotage the most cherished fantasies and offer the most startling – and seductive – surprises. They demand pragmatism and cheerful adaptability … Islands don’t lend themselves to grand plans and big theories …” [Island mentality: how the Hebrides shaped British culture, Madeleine Bunting, 8th Oct 2016]

Time to change course for the Philippines? Unfortunately, “Islands don’t lend themselves to grand plans and big theories.” Think of where Brexit is today. Islanders don’t think outside the box. It takes an unpatriotic Pinoy like the writer to challenge why we kicked out the US military. Why we don’t embrace Western money and technology. It is better for the Philippines to be run like hell by Filipinos. And our prescription? Federalism? Recall the native rice cake – “sapin-sapin.” Our challenge is multi-layered.

And why the blog has discussed big data and analytics. Sadly, we’re still about standalone expertise and have yet to embrace cross-functional dynamic tension – e.g., model thinking. Specifically, economic development is beyond TRAIN … Build, Build, Build … and the safety net the poor deserve. [See below re The Competitive Advantage of Nations.]

For example, how the Asian Tigers traversed the journey from poverty to prosperity is captured in a body of knowledge that we can use. While the UN in its latest SDGs (sustainable development goals) pinpointed the common denominator of development – that mirrors big data and analytics: (a) rapid infrastructure development; (b) industrialization; and (c) innovation and competitiveness. Imagine connecting the dots like playing solitaire where the deck of 52 cards equals big data; while the analytics exercise must yield the four suits – of Hearts, Spades, Diamonds and Clubs.

But let’s get back to island mentality. Things are getting better. Really? Here is the gist of a conversation the wife and writer were in one dinner time: “Do you know there is a brisk business in home rentals especially in the gated communities; we have more expatriates today. Palm-greasing is down to 10% again – it went up to 30% even more before?” The writer and wife practically fell from their chairs to hear it matter-of-factly.

Hope against hope? “Roads that become riddled with potholes at the slightest rain, public school buildings torn down by the weakest storm, medicines in government hospitals with little or no efficacy … These are some of the results of a corruption-laden public bidding system that needs to be overhauled — or replaced entirely.

“President Duterte was correct in observing that the bidding process for public works projects had delayed the completion of vital infrastructure and bred corruption, and that syndicates were rigging the bidding for government projects and bribing officials.

“Most Filipinos have known this all along, but, as Sen. Panfilo Lacson pointed out, they seem to have grown accustomed to such malpractice and are no longer outraged by it.

“As for smaller government projects, Sen. Francis Escudero has promised to review the absence or lack of sufficient specifications and accurate terms of reference, which he believes is the real reason public bidding has become so rotten … There is hope in correcting the country’s failed bidding process.” [Taking up the Swiss challenge, EDITORIAL, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 5th Feb 2018]

What about the war on drugs? Here’s the rest of the conversation referenced above: “And you know, even the poor barangays feel safer today because of the war on drugs. We must be engaged in this war despite the collateral damage. We must do something about the drug menace.”

Who can say when the war will be won and how? It reflects our inability to distinguish “activity” from “outcome.” If it isn’t obvious yet, the blog constantly speaks to foresight and the GPS model. That we must look beyond the horizon, i.e., have a developed foresight. And its absence is why the world, including the Asian Tigers, has left us behind.

And we’ve stooped so low. Consider: “Resist injustice with every bone in your body,” preached Christ; while Martin Luther King, Jr. admonished, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Why would 39 nations condemn Du30’s EJKs? To islanders it’s about sovereignty?

Chatting with an expatriate family, the wife and writer could only grin when the husband kept saying, “You know, the challenge is to constantly remind and engage the team on the imperative of dynamism. It’s not easy but running a business is about communication. We expats must keep that in mind.” Dynamism and Juan de la Cruz don’t come together in the same sentence to us Pinoys?

It won’t be easy given we’re talking over a hundred years since Rizal called out our love for tyranny. Is Sen. Francis Escudero the hope we need? Consider: “Blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God. —Matthew 5:8. When the heart is right, Jesus says, seeing will be right. He ties together heart and sight. Consider the saying, ‘Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.’ So is God. All we need to do is keep the lens clean, the heart pure.” [Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation, 5th Feb 2018.] In other words, it’s about community and the common good. 

“Most Filipinos have known this [corruption] all along, but, as Sen. Panfilo Lacson pointed out, they seem to have grown accustomed to such malpractice and are no longer outraged by it.” It’s time to change course.

It brings the writer back 15 years when his then newfound Eastern European friends asked him to extend his one-month commitment. “I will be out that door once you take transparency for granted. I represent the American ideals. And you made that commitment when you requested USAID to bring me over.”

And these people grew up witness to the tyranny of Soviet rule. History is not an excuse nor a barrier to change. And we Pinoys better stop looking around to pin the blame on another. [In the case of the US, the American experiment is bigger than Trump.] We must grow up ... And educators aren’t a bad starting point. And PH economic development must likewise change course. With due respect to our economists.

“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]

Now I know why Paul dared to speak of ‘the curse of the law’ (Galatians 3:13). Law reigns and discernment is unnecessary, which means there is little growth or change in such people. When you do not grow, you remain an infant.” [Faith and Science, Open to Change, Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, 23rd Oct 2017]

“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]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” [William Pollard, 1911-1989, physicist-priest, Manhattan Project]

“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]

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Why we are foresight-challenged

If it isn’t obvious yet, the blog has been knocking out our self-righteousness – especially us in the elite class and chattering classes. That we must toss our static and ideological instincts and embrace dynamism and a forward-thinking mindset.

But is our fixed mindset a function of the PH caste system aka “destiny”? If we can’t overcome this trait, should we expect the succeeding generations of Filipinos to live through the ignominy of underdevelopment? Because social mobility is not in their future?

Bondying once personified underdevelopment. But in the 21st century, is it the turn of Juan de la Cruz? That we’re in the 21st century yet we still restrict foreign investments … Because we own this land we call PH.

“Chamber cites DTI restrictions on gov’t projects,” Minde Nyl R. dela Cruz, BusinessWorld, 31st Jan 2018.  

“THE European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) said foreign contractors remain barred from government projects by guidelines set by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“The chamber said the Philippine Construction Accreditation Board (PCAB) on the other hand licenses foreign contractors to participate in privately funded projects.”

Cardinal Tagle preaches the Eight Beatitudes, like the true biblical scholar he is, but reduced to the basics for mortals like the writer to comprehend … We own nothing and are only shepherds. And we have been delinquent.

That is the starting point of our underdevelopment. The blog has pointed out our narrow-mindedness which can’t be said of Lee, Mahathir and Deng. China and the Asia Tigers didn’t just wake up one morning under the showers, of manna from heaven.

These once poor Asian countries were no industrial and export powerhouses but embracing Western money and technology made them so. For example, GE Appliances today are owned by Haier of China and the IBM ThinkPad is now owned by Lenovo, also of China, just to name two. But we can’t comprehend that?

And something else the writer knows firsthand: an American-owned brand was offered to his Eastern European friends. But he vetoed it. Their local brand is superior and dominant in the market, with a credible marketing campaign. Yet just 15 years ago they didn’t know the ropes of a market economy.

They keep learning – because today’s excellence is tomorrow’s commonplace. [See below re William Pollard.] But we Pinoys can’t imagine and visualize that? [See above re PH caste system – i.e., our biggest enterprises are rent-seeking not innovation-driven.]

But let’s get back to the Chinese. They are tough negotiators yet are guided by the Deng mantra: It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white so long as it catches mice. And why the top technology companies are investing in China, i.e., to leapfrog their AI technology.

And we’re debating poverty, food security, Metro Manila traffic, EJKs, etc., etc. The difference is like night and day. Yet we can tap into 21st century knowledge, e.g., big data and analytics, and pursue development by adopting a forward-thinking posture. And one approach is to employ the GPS model described below.

It is true that the writer’s generation as students – yes, including him – protested against MNCs. Sadly, history is not on their side. Our shortsightedness is beyond the pale ... because we love tyranny. We value and rely on political patronage and dynasties and oligarchy. Unsurprisingly, we have been running around like a headless chicken for over a hundred years if we go by Rizal’s reckoning.

Think of the 21st century GPS. Yet its beginning goes way back. The magi could visit the Messiah because they had the benefit of the first GPS. For PH, a GPS simply means that we must figure out where we are and where we want to be as a nation so that we are informed of how we will get there. We can’t be “sabog” as a given. Which explains our “crab mentality” and our inability to think beyond our parochial and insular interests.

But we are self-esteem challenged too that we can’t look in the mirror to recognize where we are. For example, a government system to function and meet the needs of the nation must be characterized by good governance. We can’t hide from personal responsibility and accountability. It’s called a government of the people, by the people and for the people. 

And a system of government isn’t about a classroom exercise. Creating a bigger bureaucracy when we can’t manage the current one is a recipe for disaster. The human brain is great but it can only tackle what it can truly focus on.

Problem solving is to simplify not to complicate. As kids we learned to figure out the least common denominator to simplify a set of complex facts.  It’s how to employ big data and analytics in the 21st century. If that sounds complex, try playing solitaire.

Nor is the system of government a whim of an autocrat. Putin can get away with murder because they have a long history of authoritarianism. While we have a long history of impunity that can’t make a government system function.

We know ours is a culture of impunity. Recall “weather-weather.” And why previous administrations are the subject of corruption probes – and it’s like clockwork. But that is par for the course, “family” comes first before community and the common good. And integrity and the rule of law be damned. 

What about TRAIN? Before we ask, what is the foresight behind it? Or what was the foresight behind land reform and CCT? Or OFW remittances? We must distinguish between an activity and an outcome. And why the blog keeps raising the pillars of development courtesy of the U.N. Development is the outcome we seek beyond jobs or the war on poverty. It is beyond TRAIN too.

It is about generating an abundance of income streams that Arangkada is meant to deliver. Our economists must educate Juan de la Cruz that the GDP is the aggregate of the goods and services that PH produces. And that demands: (a) rapid infrastructure development, (b) industrialization and (c) innovation and competitiveness.

Should we still be surprised by news reports like this? “World Bank wealth estimates place PHL near bottom of ASEAN,” Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan, BusinessWorld, 1st Feb 2018.

And that has become our home as the cellar-dweller. And as losers we don’t hone the skills that will lift our performance. Recall where we are with the rice industry. And how about energy? “ERC paralysis and implications for consumers,” Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr., My Cup Of Liberty, BusinessWorld, 1st Feb 2018.

“Despite a significant increase in the Philippines’ power generation capacity in recent years, the country’s installed capacity and electricity production remains small compared to the ASEAN-6 and North East Asian neighbors.

“For instance, its installed capacity of 21.2 gigawatt (GW) in 2016 was what Vietnam has about 10 years before. Vietnam now has twice the Philippines’ installed capacity …”

What about Build, Build, Build? “But my actual concern is the current process of selecting, evaluating, and approving projects. The problem with most mega projects or big-ticket items is that no full and detailed feasibility studies were made before being rushed for ICC Board approval for public relations purposes. That explains the continuing delay in implementation…” [Labor gap, Boo Chanco, DEMAND AND SUPPLY, The Philippine Star, 29th Jan 2018]

Ours is a perfect storm … From the simplest (e.g., getting a passport or a car license plate) to the biggest (i.e., infrastructure) undertakings – and everything in between, including the MRT – incompetence if not impunity is the rule. And replacing imperial Manila with imperial Davao or Mindanao – or adopting a different system of government – is not how to address incompetence and impunity. Juan de la Cruz is underdeveloped because we are incompetent and brazenly corrupt.

Soon Cambodia will be a Vietnam, and will leave us in the dust.

Until we develop foresight, we are but running around like a headless chicken. Foresight makes man superior over the rest of creation. Conversely, its absence explains why the world has left us behind.

“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]

Now I know why Paul dared to speak of ‘the curse of the law’ (Galatians 3:13). Law reigns and discernment is unnecessary, which means there is little growth or change in such people. When you do not grow, you remain an infant.” [Faith and Science, Open to Change, Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, 23rd Oct 2017]

“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]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” [William Pollard, 1911-1989, physicist-priest, Manhattan Project]

“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]