Monday, November 29, 2010

True Blue

I caught an interview with Richard Branson, the creative and business genius and free spirit behind Jet Blue airlines and his private space-travel venture, among other undertakings. He argued that it would be foolish if the United States got into any kind of trade battles with emerging nations, especially China, India, and beyond most peoples' radars, Africa. These nations will power the world economy for years to come, so why would you cut yourself out of this unstoppable force?

The logic applies also to the Philippines as the hyper-nationalists continue to shrink in fear from welcoming foreign engagement within the Philippines. The Philippines isolates itself from competition, from investment, and falls further and further behind. Oh, yes, the economy is growing nicely, but it is still a slogging covered wagon, hauled through the muck by karabao, rather than a Jet Blue space ship, which it could be, for its strategic location in the middle of Asia, magnificent scenery, and ample human and physical resources (ore, ports).

I wonder what the nationalists are afraid of. That they will lose the distinction of being native Filipinos?

That and 20 pesos will get you a loaf of bread.

They fear industrial spies will steal all their secrets?


They fear that they won't be able to match the productive power and thinking of more experienced businesspeople?

And that means, what, exactly?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Brains of Cement

How do you teach or encourage innovation and creativity, the drivers of progressive thoughts and acts? The Catholic Church is locked into the same doctrine as in the 13oo's even though Man has stepped on the moon and crammed a zillion gigabytes into a tiny cube. Great minds explore the reaches of science and creativity and the Church cannot even see the suffering roaring down the pike in terms of too many mouths consuming everything like swarming locusts in the wheat fields. Condom is a dirty word. Starving and riots are fine words, as they assure a big flock of sheep for the priests to herd.

The simple move of a tourist slogan from "Wow Philippines" to "Kay Ganda" brings shrieks of despair from across the land as terror surges at the notion that this change presents risk. My God, folks, it is an advertising slogan. People want to go back to the "Wow", as a baby separated from its blanky.

I won't get into the mandated march for the National Anthem. Talk about fear of someone thinking differently . . .

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Three and Only Three

I enjoy words, the collection of symbols which, if lined up a certain way, create mood or intrigue or paint a picture or explain things. The masters are Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo . . . and many others, too, for sure. Sherlock knew words. And Robin Williams even.

If you were asked to choose the three most profound words in the universe, which three would you choose?

I would select . . . reading, integrity and achievement
  • Reading as a way to nurture the brain and open the entire world to thoughtful exploration.
  • Integrity as a high personal morality apart from external structures such as God, patriotism or love.
  • Achievement as a way to apply direction to our acts during the short time we are gifted with life on this wet and spinning orb.
With these three symbols as an anchor to a lifestyle, I can envision riches beyond gold, behavior of the most brave and giving kind, and progress for the betterment of all.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

The National Anthem

I have a difficult time explaining to some Filipinos why I write behind the Joe America nametag. It fundamentally comes down to my belief that the Philippine standard of free speech is considerably different than that found in America, and, as a visa holder, not a citizen, I am vulnerable to being tossed out of the country if I happen to run against the grain of some official with power based on some wayward utterance. Or even one that is intentionally offensive, for the sake of sparking a brain to think.

The clearest case in point is the Philippine view that the National Anthem MUST be sung in a militaristic march cadence. I was stunned when, oh, a year or so ago, Martin Nevera was required to apologize upon his return to the Philippines after having interpreted the National Anthem as something other than a march at a Paquiao fight. I personally found his rendition inspiring, and was proud to be living in the Philippines.

But Martin Nevera, a talented, globally recognized artist who did the Philippines proud with his rendition, apologized for doing this. If he has to bow, can you imagine how powerless I and my plastic visa card would be?

Somehow, my definition of patriotism differs from that of legislators. They view patriotism as militaristic, and they draw off from the National Anthem the stanzas referring to invaders and tyrants, not mindful that they, themselves, are tyrannical when they hold the only legitimate singing style for the Anthem is a march.

I draw off something different, sacrifice. Giving of one's life to the country. I see nothing that requires this be done in a military uniform. Indeed, I see the millions of working poor and OFW's as sacrificing their muscle, tears, life, and family to try to scrape out another plate of rice by fishing all night long or pedaling a pedicab all day. They are the backbone of this country. The legislators are perhaps not familiar with this kind of sacrifice.

My English translation of the first stanza reads:

Land of the morning

Child of the sun returning

With fever burning

Thee do our souls adore

Now that is plain beautiful, poetic, inspiring. Alas, I would sing it to a blues beat, with a touch of sadness and as much courage as I could get into the tune. I see no guns, no grenades, no uniforms, no saluting, no bowing to tyrants who say "sing it my way" or go home.

Patriotism is where the heart is, not where the gun is.

Freedom means not having to sing it "your way". I would sing it with my heart, loyal to the Philippines, true, willing to give my life to the Philippines. As I am, in my way.

Therein lies the reason I write behind the bushes.

The militaristic legislators, the people with power, don't get "heart" unless it rides on a bullet. How would they ever comprehend that an opinion that differs from theirs can also be patriotic?

Remind me again, what does the Anthem say about tyranny?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tea Bags

The US elections show how fickle trends are in the US, where sound bite deceits are more profound at changing minds than facts or reason.

The main gripe from voters, of course, is jobs. Also fueling the anger is a lot of financial pain, with people sitting on homes worth less than the mortgage, or retirement accounts worth about 70% of what they were worth in 2008. I think the Obama camp got roasted because Mr. President was ineffective at explaining how brutal the economic collapse was, and that fixing it was a long term deal. It is easy for corporations to fire people when they are in a panic survival mode, and they will add people back only when their root growth supports it.

That is not a short-term deal, and the response should have been couched in the beginning of the President's term as a "Five Year Plan". In other words, he should have clearly tempered expectations on the job front. But he did not, and he got a bat on the knees for the failing (thanks UP nn grad for the nice visuals that emerge in my mind with that description).

And I love that Fed, with money presses smoking, giving China a brickbat across the forehead.

Mr. Toad's wild ride.