Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Joe Am's Philippines

I wrote a couple of articles ago that the Philippines is like amoebae in a Petri dish, lots of activity bouncing about going nowhere. Let me expound on this a bit more to explain what I think COULD be a very different situation.

The Current Conditions

The Philippines can't be compared to the United States. The Philippines does not have a large immigrant population striving to prove itself, striving for wealth. It has mainly native Filipinos striving to be laid back, powerful and rich, if getting rich can be done the easy way, by taking advantage of people with less power. Ambition, or competing for advancement based on skills, is not in the cards because there are few places where one can carve out a career path. All the upward bound avenues are plugged by relatives and favorites of the boss.

The education system teaches obedience, not innovation. Not ambition or the pride of fair play. Memorize this, line up there, wear this, read that, take next week off for the fiesta.

The President is an earnest guy doing his best to fight corruption and get the economy untracked. He talks too much, patting his own back a lot, and is not crisply decisive when facing controversy. Take the Health and Reproduction Bill. He tries to walk both sides of the debate, wanting to appear socially modern whilst not being too offensive to the Catholic Church. So the Bill languishes, lacking his personal stamp of approval and demand for passage.

The whole country just subsists, like the President. Going nowhere. Getting by.

It's not good enough.

JoeAm's Methodology: a Wrench between the Eyeballs

What is the point of being polite? If you can't handle the heat, push the delete button and rid your computer of Joe Am. Go to the nearest mango tree, suck a gallon of tuba and coke, and dream about getting laid.

For the boldest amongst you, shout "enough of this laid back shit! I want to be a part of something more energetic, more purposeful, more accomplished!"

Organize your thinking as to what you want to see happen:  A progressive, growing Philippines that casts off the shackles of its subservient colonial history and the lackadaisical malaise that infests the Philippine work ethic.

This will take effort. It is no walk on the beach. It is no sail in the sun. It is no stroll in the mall.

List the deeds you want to see accomplished. My list:

  1. A better system of education that uses technology to bridge the gap between overwhelming masses of students and a limited number of quality educators. A school system that is free so that education is available to all, not just those of means.

  1. A globally recognized court system that is obsessed with justice. Courts that are efficient, because justice is best if it is immediate. Courts that are free of fees and administrative red tape, for justice is best if it is available to all. Judges who pride themselves on being non-political and law-based.

  1. Standards of modern living that are not anchored in the 16th century by the Catholic Church. Availability of divorce, for it is common sense that if people discover they are best apart instead of locked in a dysfunctional partnership, they ought to go their own ways. Availability of birth control education and methods, for it is compassionate to see women as something other than baby factories.

  1. A secular Philippines that attacks Muslim disenfranchisement with jobs and good deeds instead of guns and bombs.

  1. A national mining program that keeps resources and profits in the Philippines rather than shipping them to foreign lands.

  1. A  realistic tourist program that identifies the top 10 attractions for foreigners and builds modern tourism infrastructure supporting them, that ends the wasteful shotgun splatter of slogans and misleading ads hyping tourism but is nothing more than hot air pasted over polluted beaches.

  1. A mammoth sea-faring nation with a network of harbors and freeports that surpass anything Hong Kong or Singapore can offer.

  1. The call center capital of the world, with specialized colleges teaching management of call center activities as well as call technology, English, phone and computer skills.

  1. A self-powered nation, drawing energy from sunshine, geothermal wells, tides and oil and gas resources within Philippine territory.

  1. An ecologically aware nation, working to end pollution, deforestation, raping of the seas and urban congestion.

Here is the formula for activism: Pick one of the initiatives you are passionate about and go to work on it. Find out who is leading the push and join in. If no one is driving things, start your own initiative. If you can't figure out how to do it, gather up a few partners, no more than seven. Study up how other organizations handle advocacy. Hash it out over a beer or two. Bounce ideas around until you have a plan. Then act.

If you can't find passion for any of the initiatives, go directly to the tuba table and waste your life.

A Point of Curiosity

If Joe Am can list a simple and clear set of priorities for the nation, how come its President can't? Is he just another reactive Jose? Passive? Awaiting for events to show him the way, rather than showing events the way?


  1. Joe, you forgot providing a steady supply of (cheap) food as an initiative.

    I don't mean instant noodles.

  2. brianitus. Superb point. I will amend the list to drop the mining initiative and add the food supply initiative. I'd like to keep it at no more than 10.

  3. A realistic tourist program?

    How would you attract Americans to go there for a vacation? 21 hrs flight from new York. The real spenders are the families. Flying with children 20 hrs is not an option for Americans. Some scuba divers and some sex tourist and some lonely guys looking for Filipina wife are going there. It is ironic that even the sex tourist are having now better choices close by as some South American countries like Colombia, Costa Rica, Brazil etc. are becoming more American friendly. They are also very inexpensive.

  4. The Filipinas prefer white men over any other races other than their own. The population of the Philippines is growing and it seems to be out of control. That means more Filipinas will compete for less kanos in the futere. The number of the whites around the world are not increasing but decreasing. I don't see how tourism could be able to attract more whites. Probably Koreans Chinese or Japanese tourist could be attracted. Philippines will have some competitors also from Vietnam and Cambodia. I see a nation that is going to be more desperate in the future than now. They western heritage could also be at stake if they will be more and more influenced by those Oriental countries.

  5. Attila, you make some excellent points. It is not a family place, indeed. And you are right, the main market would be Asia, which imposes certain risks to "who we are". Maybe we should dump the tourism budget into education.

  6. Speaking of some Oriental influence on the Philippines. Interestingly even today Americans are often labeled as sex tourist and even worse: as pedophiles. A friend of mine a Filipina living in New York did a paper on sex tourism in the Philippines using resources at the United Nations library where she had full access to all type of information, research, statistics etc. She was surprised to find out that most sex tourist for underage girls are from Japan. She also said that American nationals are closer to the bottom of the list and the Japaneses are by far the most responsible for it. She mentioned that it is not covered by the Philippine media and she thinks it is a cover up for some economical or political reasons. Americans overall are on the bottom of the list of sex tourism in the Philippines. We are beaten by the Koreans by a long shot and also by the Australians and Europeans as well. She told me that the Orientals often do it secretly keeping a low profile. I wander what is behind the anti American propaganda or the lack of criticism towards Japan and Korea?

  7. Attila, to answer your last question first, I think the US is fun to criticize as the "biggest dog on the block", for it is common within Filipino society to raise oneself up by tearing someone else down. So ripping the US makes people feel really jolly and big.

    As to why Japan and Korea are active in the underage sex market, I can only guess. For one thing, these are substantially racially pure societies, so Japanese and Koreans can't come here with the same intent as most Americans, to find a (properly aged) girl friend or wife. Koreans or Japanese couldn't easily bring a Filipino wife back to the home country while Americans are racially diverse and mix more easily. And if you from a closed society, and are going to sneak out, why not go for the erotically kinky, the young ones? Sex is sex; no emotions attached. No morals, too, if you are racist and believe a Filipino is a lesser being.

  8. There are many Koreans in the Philippines doing business, studying or maybe retired there. I was told by my Filipino friends that in general they don't mix with the locals and they don't marry Filipinas. Unlike kanos who do marry Filipinas and do become member of Filipino families. Filipinos should keep that in mind when they criticize Americans without any sense.


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