A Huge Philippine Weakness: Acting Transactionally Rather Than Strategically

I have written about this subject before, but want to take a different swing at it. You know, three swings before getting called out.

Several incidents have occurred recently that illustrate the point I want to make. The point is this:

The Philippines is a transactional nation, responding to events rather than planning how to deal with them ahead of time. Many Filipinos themselves operate on a transactional framework. I am of the opinion that there is a better way, and will address that after itemizing the incidents:
The Case of the Irritating Articles
I’ve noted that many blog readers are loyal for a time, then come across a particular blog article or discussion that really irritates them, and so they stop reading that blog. Whether they seek to avoid being irritated again or want to “punish” the blog editor by removing their contribution is pretty much irrelevant. What is relevant is they leave.
Both Johnny Lin and baycashave recently gotten irritated at an article or discussion at Riassa Robles’ Top Blog, and I know I have lost at least one reader who got irritated by a particular article here at The Society of Honor. Others have simply disappeared and I can expect that some of them also got irked by an article.
The reasons are specific. Alan Robles and Johnny got into a debate that edged personal. Baycas thought an article was unduly provocative. Chohili on my site got irritated because I listed valuable contributors to the blog by screen name and did not include her.
Those are what I would call transactional reactions.
All are legitimate reasons for grievance.
What perplexes me is that the transactions – each individual article or disagreement – seem to be driving subsequent acts. The act is to go away, and perhaps to diss the offending blog elsewhere. There seems to be no bigger, stronger “strategic commitment” to build blogging in the Philippines that would hold valuable contributors in place PAST a hard-to-digest blog.


All three cases weaken the blog to which they contributed. Because their contributions were valuable.
If a commenter makes a strategic commitment to building blogging in the Philippines, he or she is more likely to take an irritating blog and set it aside, but return on another article to resume the strategic effort of building blogging in the Philippines as a powerful Fifth Estate.
When few make that strategic commitment, blogging in the Philippines gets weakened with each exercise in free speech that offends someone. So I look around the Philippines, and I see transactions, transactions everywhere, lots of ego and need to win, and weak commitment to the rough road of dedicating oneself to the bigger, broader strategy to better the Philippines. Everyone wants to take the easy path that is convenient for them. And often it has to be THEIR path, and no one else’s.

I merely suggest that a making a determined commitment to STRATEGY will build a better Philippines. The willingness to make personal sacrifice for the good of community will build a better Philippines.

The Case of the Boat on a Reef
Maude did a fine job last week of laying out the illogic of Senator Legarda’s intention to hold Senate hearings on the American minesweeper that ran around in Tubbataha Park. For the sake of exorcising her anger about environmental damage, Senator Legarda overlooks the importance of the “strategic commitment” that the Philippines and US ought to be making to each other to establish a strong alliance as a block to China’s aggressive resource-driven expansionism.
When incidents like the shipwrecked boat occur, they need not be ignored. They can be addressed. But they ought to be addressed quietly, between partners, and not negotiated in a public forum, with one partner condemning the other. The sensationalist Philippine media like nothing better than splashing mud about. And their job is not to care about sovereignty, it is to get ratings or circulation up.Senator Legarda may be rounding up some votes, but at what price?

She has taken a transactional approach on “sovereignty” that weakens the strategic defensive alliance that is important for protecting Philippine sovereignty.
Again, narrow personal benefit, and a righteous transactional argument, undercuts the strategy of building an alliance to stand strong against China.
The Case of the Transactional Blog
The Raissa Robles blog that irritated baycas (and me, to tell the truth) was headlined as follows:
The blog focused generally on a worst case scenario reading of amendments to the law protecting original materials (intellectual property). What happens at the airport when an OFW brings in a large number of personal CD’s or a computer loaded with songs and videos that he has no record of buying? Is he guilty of a crime?
Well, it is an important argument to make TRANSACTIONALLY. And Raissa makes some important points in the blog. For instance, no one representing OFW’s was engaged in the crafting of the law.
But what was missing from the discussion was the strategic umbrella: the aim of the Philippines to get out from a U.S. blacklist designation for weak protection of intellectual materials.
Without acknowledging the importance of the strategic aim, the transactional execution indeed looks knee jerk and stupid, and legislators who signed it appear incompetent.
No, no. Wrong. It is not. They are not. The strategic aim is fine and honorable and in the right direction. Just poorly communicated, perhaps, or poorly structured. The problem with Raissa’s blog is that the transactionally upset people don’t have the same strategic perspective or ambition that the legislators have.Neither group is wrong for their perspectives. The bloggers are just transactionally limited on theirs.

Given the importance of achieving international integrity, the Philippines could and should work to get out from under the smear of failing to abide by laws that most nations agree to.  The Philippines punishes itself if it cannot demonstrate to honest businessmen that it believes in honesty itself. It is too easy to say that the Philippines is a nation that is soft on piracy.
And no major publisher or movie producer will ever set up shop in the Philippines.
There is nothing wrong with the transactional argument. But, lacking strategic context, it works against the best interest of the Philippines by improperly condemning Philippine lawmakers and by failing to recognize the importance of getting international endorsement for Philippine initiatives to protect original materials. That is, staying off the U.S. blacklist.
Now the Philippines has two choices. (1) “It’s okay, Joe. It’s the way we do it.” Or, (2) we need to do a better job of developing the disciplines and skill of articulating strategic frameworks for our transactions, and work harder and more diligently on the strategic execution. Making sure citizens are informed of the big picture, not just the smaller incidents, is an important part of this execution.
My personal view: Going from transaction to transaction is chaotic and weak. It is better to set a goal, outline a strategy, and  make sure everyone knows the importance of pursuing the strategy together. That is not always the easiest way. But it is the best.
The goal is a “better Philippines”. The beneficial strategies in our examples are:
  • Building a lasting, substantial blogging voice within the Philippines: the Fifth Estate.
  • Presenting a strong, unified opposition to Chinese encroachments.
  • Getting off the intellectual properties “bad nation” lists.
I would think we all would want to do all in our power to make these things happen. And to do that, we might want to refrain from undermining efforts that are underway by being too narrow in our perspective on things.Keeping our eye on the big picture can help.

20 Responses to “A Huge Philippine Weakness: Acting Transactionally Rather Than Strategically”
  1. Anonymous says:

    One word that came to mind after reading Raissa'slatest article was "SENSATIONALISM."amor

  2. Yes, I agree. The result is a lot of angry people in a complex area that few understand, and which still lacks implementing regulations. Whereas the intent o fthe legislation is wholly good, putting the Philippines on track to be recognized as compliant with international standards for protection of original works. So the whole "positive" that could be attached to legislative acts was missing.

  3. Americans look at the BIG PICTURE!!! Not micro-picture or picture element. They look at each picture element how it looks if it is pieced together.To win election Democrats played black Obama. They won. Republicans responded with black GOP head which turned out to be corrupt as Filipinos. In their second battle, Democrats played the illegal immigrants and Hispanic cards. Mitt did not. Oh, yes, they did. They throw Rubio in, Hispanics did not take the bait. They failed because Rubio hate illegal immigrants. Mitt and his Republican strategists found out too late. After total loss, The Republicans will play illegal immigrants and Hispanics to legalize illegals for future election.AMERICANS PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE. FILIPINOS SO LOVE HISTORY THAT THEY WANTED TO REPEAT IT OVER AND OVER AGAIN FOR THE PAST 500 YEARS.Of course, Americans can squish North Korea, upon seeing the big picture rather not, because China is too huge to fit in their picture frame. Americans do not want to fight China. Americans also knew that Philippines are touchy sensitive people. So, Americans put up a ruse. Let the minesweeper wander into Tubatha reef. BINGO! Filipinos went wild. They sent in their piranhas. AMERICANS CAN NOW DROP PHILIPPINES from their endangered species protection. China is too important to Americans than squabbling, swashbuckling backstabbing, quarreling, jealous Filipinos.Americans hate short-sighted reactionary transactional Filipinos. This time Americans are not death marching in Bataan.

  4. I'm amused by your characterization of American presidential politics. You have a good way of cutting throught the crap to call it as it is.I disagree, however, that the US will drop the Philippines in favor of good relations with China. The recent announcement of China's military backed intrusions into American computer systems is pretty profound. I think there are no illusions in the US about China. China is out for herself and cares not a whit about other nations. So she needs to be controlled, not coddled. The Philippines is unfortunately right on the battle front. But that is because of China's territorial aggression, not America's "hegemony".

  5. Anonymous says:

    JoeThanks for featuring my name, good or bad advertisement is still advertisement.Though you got the wrong conclusion on my drift in Raissa blog.I have long wanted to stay out of posting in Raissa blog because I did not lije the attitude of her partner against dissenters to their blog which was direct insults unrelated to the topics of discussion. Fact was Raissa emailed me not to stop telling me that she needed my participation. I relented until I decided to bait her partner into discussion and attack him if he posted silly reasonings which he did which I promptly criticized. As usual instead of reasoning out he turned to his antics of insinuating unrelated personal stuff. The caharacter of a person who could dish off heat but could not take the heat.My part was planned aimed as payback from all the commenters insulted by the partowner of the blog. He deserves every kind of indignities in blogging. Poor Raissa is the victim of the arrogance of her partner, probably the reason too that their topics are becoming self agrandisement lately which I suspect was the brilliant idea of the partner. Remember, many times Raissa claimed her partner was the savvy one on IP and new technologies. He gave her the idea on a hot topic based on wrong conclusion which they, not surprising, concluded was similar in nature to cybercrime law to elicit indignation and revolt again from the netizens to our legislators. Fact is, it was not.How could she suddenly conclude the rudimentaries of a tangled IP law was discomboluted unless the partner provided the greater input on the misunderstanding of the law? The result: explanation or defense of her conclusion becoming more confusing , the more she elaborated, because the premise was faulty in many points. Baycas and saxnviolins explanations were so simple.Pacquiao success got into his head causing uproar from many die hard fans. History always repeats itselfHe he heJohnny Lin

  6. Well, I appreciate your explanation, Johnny, and that you welcome my "advertising" you. heh heh. I agree that there is a drift toward negativism going on at Raissa's site. And I feel the pull on my own blog at times. It is easy to let the little irritants become the theme, and that is unfair to what is actually going on. A lot of good work and positive thinking.History does go in cycles, but like a rolling wheel. Moving in a given direction, good or bad. I'm reminded of the tires that kids in the neighborhood roll with sticks. We bloggers wield sticks, and I hope you keep whacking freely with yours. You have great insights. And are sooooo shy . . . bwahahahahaha

  7. In Fashion District in the deep bowels of Los Angeles Rolex watches can be found for $50.00. If they bargain hard enough they can have their Rolex thrown in with Gerard Peragaux. THESE ARE MAID IN CHINA. It takes a trained eye, passion for luxury and a magnifying glass to know the minutinae of difference. CK bags, Dolce&Gabana sunglasses are there for every authorities to see. ABSOLUTE PIRACY without eye-patch direct from China sold by Chinese at Santee.What are Filipinos afraid of? Americans are like Filipinos. They have laws but nobody to implement. China, too, are blacklisted for piracy, intellectual property copyright infringement. Child labor, inhumane working condition from Wal-mart to iPhone. Name it China is blacklisted.Why are Filipinos making a fuss out of this? Definitely Americans would turn a blind eye on Philippine piracy. I would prefer piracy-made products from China than from Philippines. Phlippine pirated products are easy to spot. American law enforcement says piracy in the Philippines die a natural death because of its sloppy craftsmanship. They cannot even export catsup and pansit to Filipino stores because patriotic Filipinos prefer Korean pansit in America how much more piracy?This anti-piracy law is not to make Philippines look goot to Americans. This anti-piracy law is ANTI-PINOY like some laws in the Philippines.Each plane-load of Filipinos from abroad have music player to fight boredom on PAL flights. Each music player has thousands of pirated music shared by friends.I WOULD RECOMMEND benign0 Aquino BUILD PRISON RIGHT THERE ON THE TARMAC OF NINOY AQUINO AIRPORT 3. Plane load of pirates on board.

  8. Edgar Lores says:

    1. I am partly enlightened and partly amused.2. Well, not really enlightened because I would like to think that the views I espouse are founded on “first” principles. I tend to look for the basic principle(s) and argue from that viewpoint. Principles are the bedrock of long-term strategy, of the big picture.2.1 Principles are ideological, philosophical. Transactional dealings are not. They are based on convenience and momentary advantage. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. They offer solutions that are pragmatic, but that compromise principle. Transactional dealings find and accept third-rate solutions.2.2 Solutions based on principles are hard to come by and, some might say, impossible. I agree. I would argue though that we should at least try. If it’s impossible then, yes, let’s go with the second-tier solutions. But never go with third-rate solutions unless you absolutely have to.3. My amusement stems from a case in point: political dynasties. To my mind the principle is that in a democracy power should not be concentrated in the hands of a few. Otherwise what you have is not a democracy. True, dynasties may serve the people as Binay claims. And the credentials they display may be credentials of the mind and not necessarily of the heart. But any advantages derived from them are far outweighed by the dangers they pose and the actual damage they wreak. Therefore dynasties should be eliminated by law. That is the principled and incidentally the constitutional solution, but it is an impossible solution.3.1 The education of the citizenry is a second-tier solution but that is equally an impossible solution.3.2 A third-rate solution is to kill the dynasties by revolution.3.3 An acceptable but perhaps unethical solution would be to use the power of the pork barrel. Satisfy the beast to kill the beast. Give each head of the hydra monster 1.6M each. In the long run, that would be a cheap price to pay.4. Goals and the methods to achieve them – that is the ends and the means – must be within the framework of an underlying philosophy. This would prevent transactional dealing. Economic goals, for example, should not be achieved at the cost of individual liberty.

  9. andrew lim says:

    You hit this one spot on, Joe. Personally, I don't post as much on Raissa's blog recently because I find the current topic dense and not worth getting excited or too concerned about. But I keep the strategic focus; I recognize the value of a high traffic blog in creating tipping points on public policy, and we've seen it in past issues like the Corona trial, RH, etc. So I'll jump back in when the topic is more interesting.As for many Filipinos' transactional mentality, I'm at a loss where it comes from – the Pinoy's Zen Buddhist character of being in the here and now, and no past or future? the aversion to planning (financial, family size, etc)? a reflection of the poor quality of our educational system? fatalism? another bad cultural trait passed by the Spaniards? As for political family dynasties: It would be too long to discuss this in this post, but my view: the CBCP's belated statement vs dynasties could be due to its ambivalence re the issue. It can be argued that its pro-family stance results in family dynasties. And it is aware that the concentration of wealth and power in a few families originated from the encomienda system the Spanish civil and church authorities implemented centuries ago.

  10. Yes, very good point, Edgar, that principles underpin every thing, from goals to strategy to action. My basic principle is that democratic freedoms and responsibilities provide the best foundation for large human commmunities, and we ought to develop them to be disciplined, productive happy places. If I thought more about that, I'd refine it. But top of head, that is the principle. And another is that we ought to pursue various goals based on rational thought, kindness (respect for others), and candor.I think dynasties will be eaten away as citizens learn to band together for common interests, and to influence selection of candidates and elections. Maybe a new People's Party will emerge that focuses on competence rather than name.

  11. Ha, "dense", perfect. I was trying to figure out how to characterize it and that says it all in one word.Re dynasties, see my remark to Edgar, above. I think the CBCP is probably reeling from two blows, one, the RH loss, and two, the Pope's resignation, possibly in favor of an individual willing to modernize the Catholic Church to keep it relevant. A third might be the relentless condemnation the Church is receiving in the Philippines for so grossly meddling in political matters. Even its own are starting to speak out against that strident method.

  12. As a footnote, I do recognize that you are one individual who does operate under a strategic vision of what to accomplish and how. So you are not limited or constrained by this event or that. The Philipines needs more exceptions like you to the predominant transactional trends cited in my article.

  13. Attila says:

    The NPA? They may try to fight for social justice but they behaving rather strange. I was reading the news a few yrs ago about the NPA in Negros and how they raided some cock farms stilling money and some equipment. I'm from a communist county but I never heard communist doing that kind of thing. I tried to talk to some Filipinos here who bragged about their connection to the NPA and one of them told me that he was member of the NPA. So I wanted to talk about their philosophy and their communist ideology. But I just hit the wall with them. They have no basic knowledge of any of the communist philosophers. It seems that these Filipinos has nothing to do with communism. Maybe the government is just labels anyone who is fighting for social justice?

  14. Attila says:

    Oh Joe you are so polite and considerate. You want to care for the Filipinos. It is time to stop feeling guilty. It is time to let them to be alone. Let it go! the USA should let it go!

  15. I don't think the US is coddling the Philippines, but "using" the Philippines to put up a blockade against Chinese expansion. And the Philippines is "using" the United States to assure survival as an independent state.I personally don't feel guilty. I am enjoying being a part of a vibrant if quirky culture trying to get from proverty-strewn dysfunction to functional and wealthier.By the way, I responded to your e-mail on the photos. They are fantastic. Check your in-box or spam folder. I have a couple of questions.

  16. The NPA are extortionist gangsters, nothing more. The leftist political groups have the intellect of a gnat and spout the same trite commie slogans we heard 50 years ago. They are so comical that I can't decide whether to laugh or cry. Alas, the underprivileged listen to them, as they get so little from established, traditional social mechanisms.

  17. NPA, "Maoist" in principle, is irrelevant. I do not know the strategy of benign0 Aquino's government. Why benign0 Aquino's government is resurrecting this puny irrelevant pirates of the land. Could it be they will be made into fall guys if things go wrong? A scapegoat? How could benign0 know they are NPAs? They carry Maoist Identification card? Is benign0 playing the terrorist Maoist angle to bring in the terrorist-hating Americans into the fray?If I know, Americans know better. It seems Abu Sayaf is not in the news lately. All Abu Sayaf terrorist act is now blamed on Maoist NPAs. Soooo lame.benign0's PMA strategists are not goot enough. American military and intelligence attache must be laughing horse.

  18. Dude, Johnny. Alan is not expert in IT and IP. He lacks conversational englischtzes. I'll fail him in extemporaneous speaking. Because I cannot accept illogical one-liners. His quatrain is dismal. My kindergarten pupils are better.When I told him there is a U.P. ivy-school graduate in New YOrk Times mopping floors he asked me the name. I told him I cannot do that for privacy reason. The dude said flatly, IT IS NOT TRUE BECAUSE I CANNOT GIVE THE NAME TO HIM. Typical Corona-ish. Alan cannot understand the "Corona-ish" thingie because he is soooo in favor of violating Corona's bank privacy and letting go Mr. Anonymous and Little Lady in Red Riding Hood. Because it is also soooo typical of Philippine Justice. Screwey and Halo-halo. Weder-weder lang.

  19. Attila, I overwhelmingly agree with Joe. On my part, it is therapeutic. It makes me feel "intelligent" comparable to these U.P. Ateneo la Salle Graduates writing columns in useless Philippine Newspaper misinforming Filipinos.If those 188 non-reading congressmen where in America, they'd be laughed out of congress. But this is the Philippines. Anything goes.Mr. Anonymous and Little Lady in Red Riding Hood may have carried Corona to his doom but if it where in America where Laws of the Philippines were plagiarized from, these duo would have retired in Colorado's SuperMax so is Corona.Then, again, This is the Philippines. Where "Maldita" & "Maldito" is a brand to be fear regardless they are wrong.I just wonder why Filipinos are proud to be called "Maldita" and "Maldito"?And those that stand their legal ground are also called "Maldita" "Maldito". I just do not get it.Wishy–washy. Weder-weder.

  20. "3.1 The education of the citizenry is a second-tier solution but that is equally an impossible solution" – EDGAR LORESSir Lores, I guess educating the citizenry of the inhabitants of the Philippines is possible. I was dumb before I left to the U.S. When I came back I am more intelligent than those U.P. Graduates. Just by reading American newspapers I was educated. Reading Philippine newspapers are not even educating me and the rest of the inhabitants that there is such thing as "privacy law" "banking secrecy law" "child abuse, general neglect, emotional abuse" on children. The idiot Philippine Press cannot see that children sleeping on the sidewalk exposed to the element is form of state-sponsored child abuse. I learned all these from American Newspapers.PHILIPPINE MEDIA PRACTITIOENRS SHOULD BE AMPATUANIZED. They are useless. They are idioting the Filipinos.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.