Sunday, December 11, 2011

Barriers to a Vibrant Philippines

The Philippines has all the required ingredients for success, for wealth, for a modern, vibrant community of proud, free, secure and happy citizens.

It has amazing natural resources. It has beauty and hard work and a perfect climate and rich soil for growing things. It has a speaking foundation in the global language of English. It is broadly educated. It engages the modern world with computers and call centers and internet cafes at every corner. It has a sound transportation infrastructure of national highways, sea carriers and airports.

It has everything it needs.

So why is it a chronically polluted, underachieving, congested, poverty-stricken place? Why does it seem always one rally short of the next coup? Why are so many kids malnourished and living in filth? Why do citizens routinely die by the hundreds in mudslides, ferry sinkings and election murders?

What’s with this?

This land is so rich in resources and with so many warm, intelligent, dedicated people. Yet it is not living up to its potential.

It should be competing with California in the U.S. for global leadership in values, in productivity, in modern lifestyles, in care for its people and the cherishing and using of its vast natural resources.
Why does it not?

I’ve hammered at this for a couple of years now, studied, argued, interacted, thought. I’ve digested the writings of Benigno and Cocoy, of BenK, the Cusp, J-ag and manuelbuencamino, of frick and frack, not to mention Ilda. I’ve read the discussion threads and participated in the debates. I’ve read the newspapers, mulled over the opinion columns, waded through the gore and the titillating television “news”. I’ve done a “mind dump” right here on this blog site. I’ve interacted with Filipinos in my daily life.
Can you deal with it?

Here are the three main reasons the Philippines lags the modern world:

    1. The nation is guided by religious rather than rational thought.

The Catholic Church imposes faith-based rules on the secular public. Faith-based means an assumption, or belief in the truth of the Bible and the dictates of the Pope. Faith is essentially a manly guess at why there is so much mystery about us. Many of the mysteries have been solved since the Bible came on the scene, but Catholics insist on not updating their interpretations. They are afraid of being accused of flip-flopping I suppose.

We have no photos of Noah the day he climbed, slimy and thankful, out of the belly of the whale. Yet Catholic values hold the firmness of God’s truth in that tale, the same as if it were cement. And the Catholic faith today insists on abundant over-birthing even though modern secular knowledge predicts a headlong dash to destruction of our finite isles. The faith also insists on bondage of women to abusive, deadbeat husbands as if they were chattel signed over to the guy in the pants.

In a mysterious world, these rules may have made sense. In a modern world, they are irrational. They are dangerous. They deny us our God given talent to promote our well-being and survival.

In a secular nation, when damage is being done to citizens, the State should step in. But the Philippine State does not.

The State might as well throw its women into dungeons. Laws that should give them the right to be free of spousal abuse are not passed. Modern information that should enable women to make informed birthing choices is withheld from them WITH INTENT. The flood of babies becomes a flood of students that the State can’t afford to educate, and the flood of uninspired, unremarkable students becomes a flood of underemployed, hungry, non-productive adults who generate precious little wealth for the nation.

The Church accepts absolutely no responsibility for the conditions in the Philippines. Zero. None. Indeed, it sets the standard for blaming and making excuses (it is ”ineffective government” that makes poverty, not poor families having 10 kids to please the Pope).

    1. The nation employs reactive, self-engaged thinking rather than outward care and planning.

When God gave Filipinos minds, he installed them in reverse. Rather than looking forward, these minds look back. Rather than anticipating, they respond. Rather than acting according to the clock, they set the clock according to when they act. And He gave educators the same minds. They are unable to figure out how to teach aspiration or planning or disciplines of productive living.

The Filipino is obsessed with his heritage, proud of the jumble of in-fighting, tribal wars, coups and dysfunctional presidents, and a man named Rizal. Foreigners are feared. These strange devils with different values and lots of money are people “we can’t compete with. . .”

“We’d rather be stuck where we are than get diluted with productive thinking and wealth and round eyes, and we’ll get our whiteness with creams, thanks.”

The Filipino reverse mind looks inward at self with vivid obsession and is blind to the well-being of others. Rudeness is a way of life here as power is determined transaction by transaction. The person in power is ruthless. The person out of power is subservient. Not many have learned to act forthrightly as a respectful equal to everyone else. There is precious little calm, objective thinking. It is win or lose. A binary life. Win or lose.

    1. The nation displays pride born of envy rather than accomplishment.

The Philippines is an emotional place with simple underlying drives based on envy. Psychologists are needed to explain why, but they have evidently been run out of town on a rail. When’s the last time you saw a psychiatrist or therapist working to make a Filipino emotionally whole?

Introspection is not done professionally in the Philippines. It is done by Cosmopolitan Magazine. It is done via gossip and at the manicurist’s salon.

Here’s a secret. Psst! “The Buzz” is not deep introspection.

The amount of tearing down in the Philippines is beyond belief, from shrill blog sites that pretend wisdom to the neighbor’s petty envy to clan killings and election killings and murder of journalists. What do you think the Anti-Pinoy and Get Real sites are doing with their finely honed hatchets?

Psst! Tearing down is not very constructive.

And showboat pride based on glamorous winners, a boxer or beauty contestant or singer, is the opposite, the negation, of the kind of quiet, inward pride that comes with achievement. Of a career planned and carried out well. Of modern, productive methods in the workplace. Of a government focused on modernizing. Of innovation. Of quality products and kind customer service.

There are exceptions, of course. Most of the people who comprehend this blog are exceptions. Therein lies the pity. There is no core institution that has a primary mission to build a progressive Philippines. The State does not. The Church does not. The schools do not. Or, if they do . . . they are failing.

Until the State protects its people from the indulgences of religion . . . until minds are switched forward to plan and care about others . . . until pride is based on aspiration, achievement and personal responsibility . . .

. . . the Philippines will fail to reach its potential.

You can jail all the ex-presidents you want, but you won’t get a different result until you get rid of these three barriers to a vibrant Philippines.


  1. A minor comment Joe, it was Jonah who ended up in the whale's stomach like Geppetto.

    The picture thing is correct though... or maybe not, I should check his Facebook page

  2. ahahaha, where was my brain on that one? Noah was on a different ship, eh?


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