The selling of our country
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-07-29

There are two ways Filipinos can sell their country. One way can result in an act of treason while the other can be a positive contribution.

It is treason when a Filipino, especially a high public official, sells the Philippine national interest to another country, resulting in harm or disadvantage. This could come in the form of detrimental trade and security agreements or the ceding of precious natural resources to an opportunistic powerful country.

Treason happens again and again because we are a benighted nation when it comes to the historical truth. The traitors got away with their high crimes and some are even strutting around as respectable Filipinos. The political heir of one of the biggest traitors in Philippine history postures as if integrity is his birth right. His grandfather gave our former colonizer one of the most demeaning and one sided treaties in Philippine history which was clearly prejudicial to our national interest. 

However, when a Filipino sells his country in order to promote its national interest, as in the case of selling the Philippines as a tourist or as an investor paradise — then the selling job can be equated to an act of positive contribution, of heroism even. Selling our country as a tourist or as an investor paradise is something all Filipinos should undertake regardless of how big or small their contribution can be.

Filipinos should not think that only our Tourism and Trade Secretaries should concern themselves with the selling of our country as a tourist and investor paradise. The selling of the Philippines for our collective benefit is a national endeavor.

Filipino interest and involvement in the running of their country has been rekindled and inspired by President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) through his brand of exemplary leadership, truthfulness and transparency. We must use this momentum to reverse our downward spiral and set our course towards sustainable progress. Only with every Filipino positively contributing to the selling of our country as a tourist and investor paradise can we improve our lives and communities.

The economic miracle of China was not solely achieved by the strategic direction which Deng Xiao Ping set after taking over from Mao Zedong. Good government policies mean nothing if not complemented by ground realities. After Deng Xiao Ping instituted the policy reforms, these were complemented by the enterprising Chinese people who proved to the world that Chinese workers were among the finest and cost efficient in the world. The “Made in China” products gained international acceptance and investors elbowed each other to establish business operations in China.

In the area of international visitors, China was listed as the highest ranked in Asia and the fourth in the world with 54.7 million visitors as of 2007, before the international economic crisis caused a drop in international travel. In 2007, we were ranked #53 with a mere 3.1 million arrivals. China has developed as a top and dominant country brand for both the tourist and the investor. In the 1950s and the 1960s, the Chinese were flocking here, many of them illegally.

Compared to China and Singapore, the Philippines is now seen as a weak country brand. P-Noy and his administration can establish the right reforms the way Deng Xiao Ping did for China but it will mean nothing if we Filipinos will not actively implement the reforms in the same manner that the Chinese people gave impetus to Deng Xiao Ping’s reforms.

We will have to be better business partners or employees if we are to attract foreign investors. Investors will not care if we are better looking than other Asian nationals. They will be looking for a place where doing business provides the best return on their investments. Our cost of labor will have to be competitive. To be competitive does not just mean cost per man hour but more importantly — the productivity per man hour.

We will have to be better hosts if we are to attract tourists to choose our country over neighbors like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Our restaurant operators will have to be more creative if only to convince the international visitor that we offer some of the finest cuisine. Citizen and police cooperation must ensure the safety of our visitors.

We must also take pride in our culture and history because many visitors are attracted by these. Compared to Singapore, our history is rich with dramatic famous battles and armed conflicts and yet Singapore does a better selling job of their World War II prison than we do about our rich historical sagas.

Our failure to know the truth when it comes to our history had made us victims. We failed to capitalize on an unrecognized Philippine tourism asset which is our history. How come we do not even have a Philippine War Museum when the British War Museum in London is one of the UK’s biggest visitor drawers?

Dick Gordon was well on the way to making Intramuros a cultural and historical showcase but the subsequent Tourism Secretary did not complete what Dick Gordon started. We simply don’t know how to sell and win.

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  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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