Signs that we're not a right thinking nation
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-12-14

What’s wrong with us Filipinos?

That is a question both non-Filipinos and Filipinos have been asking as far back as I can remember. The only difference with Filipinos who were asking it then versus Filipinos who are asking the same question now is the desperation with which it is asked these days.

In 1961, our economy was rated second only to Japan in Asia and now we cannot even claim to be second in Southeast Asia. We were also among the first to enjoy the benefit of having a democracy in Asia only to realize that what we have all along is an oligarchy. Many of our people are ignorant and not empowered to operate a viable democracy.

In the early 1960s, the Indians and the Chinese were scampering to come to our shores because we could provide more opportunities for a better life. Now, our people are seeking employment opportunities in China and India. We used to be watchful of Chinese and Indian illegal immigrants. Now the Chinese and Indians are watchful of Filipinos entering their country to work and stay there illegally.

South Korea and Vietnam were war zones while we were enjoying relative prosperity and an impressive economic development in the 1950s and the 1960s. Today, we cannot even compare with their level of development. Even Cambodia, where they had the killing fields during the reign of terror of the Khmer Rouge, is now overtaking us.

Of course it is easy to blame the leaders we’ve had, especially former presidents Ferdinand Marcos, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and the present, largely perceived squatter in Malacañang Palace — Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

And who would not blame them? Marcos started this downward spiral when he declared martial law in 1972. Ramos recklessly embraced globalization and restored the reign of the trapos (traditional politicians). Estrada decided to become the so-called Chief Executive of nationalized jueteng operations instead of becoming the hope of the masses he promised to be. Arroyo is virtually the sum of Marcos, Ramos and Estrada at their worst.

But be that as it may, is it not a fact that we are also to blame for electing those who lead us? Did we not allow those leaders who manipulated our elections to get away with electoral fraud?

After all, if we accepted their money and voted for them, then we are to blame for their ascendancy. If we think they cheated their way to public office and did nothing, then we are to blame for this pathetic state of our democracy.

It is hard to accept that we have brought this upon ourselves but we will forever be asking that question of what is wrong with us if we refuse to accept the fact that we are the root cause of the problem.

Invariably, we must ask ourselves if we are a right thinking nation. Is it a right thinking nation that invests its precious time on the unimportant and is oblivious of the truly important? Just look at the issues where we spend our precious time and energy.

We are all engrossed with strengthening our English proficiency when in fact our people will learn better when taught in the language they are familiar with. We don’t even have teachers who can speak passable English so you must wonder what kind of lessons they can teach our children.

English proficiency translates to overseas and call center jobs, it is said. What happens now that overseas jobs are drying up and overseas workers are losing their jobs?

Is English proficiency the savior of the Philippines? Is that right thinking for you?

On the Australian Network, a Cambodian girl who spoke good English admitted that she was rushing to learn Chinese because we are now in the Chinese century and the economic opportunities will be teeming in China. If we insist on mastering a foreign language, does it not make sense that we should learn Chinese instead? That is how ridiculous this language debate is and yet over here we spend too much time on this instead of doing the right thing.

We need a new leadership desperately — a leadership that will enlighten and provide the right direction. So how come the early presidential surveys continue to show that able and inspiring presidentiables like Richard Gordon and Sonny Belmonte are lightly regarded and are at the bottom of the surveys?

Is there enlightenment and salvation in Noli de Castro, Loren Legarda and Panfilo Lacson? Worse — is there salvation in Joseph Estrada, assuming that he can run again? If we are a right thinking nation, we should be uniting under the banner of leaders like Richard Gordon and Sonny Belmonte. Instead, we only unite around the banner of Manny Pacquiao.

Western Europe and Japan have this problem of aging populations which will negatively impact economic performance. China and India are the rising economic powers in the world. China and India share a common asset. They both have big populations.

So how come we are rushing to curb our population growth instead of empowering our poor so that we can have a bigger market base? Population is clearly a national asset. If we can offer 84 million consumers with the annual per capita spending capacity of US$12,000, that would attract investors to our shores like a magnet. But instead of developing our national asset, here we are debating on how to reduce it.

If we are a right thinking nation, the ONLY population control we should apply is the one that can reduce, if not totally eliminate, the plunderers, election cheaters, murderers, sex offenders, extortionists, corruptors, predators, quislings and like vermin in our country. We seem to have an unusually big number of them — more than what our economy can absorb.

In the aftermath of the global financial meltdown, the developed countries are now rethinking globalization and are looking at protecting their respective economies. But here we continue to embrace globalization and its extension — the illusion of economic salvation brought about by foreign investors.

When we should be protecting Filipino industrialists and promoting Filipino-made products, we recklessly embraced globalization and choked whatever fledging industries we had. China is now attracting foreign investors but that happened because China did their homework first.

Here, we don’t do our homework but we expect to reap the benefits. Does that not reflect the thinking of the influence peddlers who want to make big bucks sans any real investment or production?

In other countries, nationalists are looked up to, revered and emulated. But here nationalists are regarded as fossils, irrelevant and are even ridiculed by writers espousing globalist views. Here, for many, it is vogue to love America and dismiss those who espouse nationalist views.

Is that a right thinking nation? Why are you surprised that we are in the rut we’re in and stuck with the leaders we have?

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