Philippine Physics: Inertia Rules

inertia

Philippine Inertia? It could be simpler than this.

The Philippines is a land deep and rich with history, custom, style and life. It renders the typical American suburb rather barren by comparison, shaded mundane by good order, wealth and mindless consumption.

The Philippines is also conflicted, a stew of peoples who often do not see eye to eye. The rich and the disenfranchised, the Catholic and the Muslim, the city-dweller and the provincial landworker, the enlightened and the ignorant, the onshore and the offshore, the old and the modern. The turmoil of recent occupations and a dictatorship gone sour are very present even today, called up frequently to caution against too much boldness. The stains of a lawless order are everywhere, even here, even now.

The Philippines is a land that befuddles and angers outsiders, frustrates and perplexes Filipinos both onshore and off, and intoxicates us all with its incredible warm, hostile, happy, busy, tragic, nonsensical ways, and the eternal hint that good times are just around the corner.

Do we who live here want the Philippines to change? To be wealthier, to bring millions of disenfranchised poor into the mainstream, to end its culture of corruption and too much death? Or are we afraid of the cost, the possible loss of the distinctive style of Spanish Asia? Can the Philippines change yet remain rich with diversity and a lifestyle not drained empty by some mindless pursuit of profit and goods?

I personally believe it is possible – no, it is a foregone conclusion – the Philippines WILL change. There are forces in play that cannot be stopped, modern communication, returning OFW’s, a shrinking planet with foreigners liking it here, and a growing middle class.

Yet the forces of inertia are huge, and they are dangerous because they continue to prop up lawlessness and allow poverty to remain entrenched as the well-to-do work for themselves and not for the nation.

This blog deals with that inertia. Calls it out, so to speak. This is not a comparison of Filipino and American lifestyles and values. It is a comparison between the Philippines today, and the Philippines with an undefined future.

Two recent articles serve as background to this one:

  • In A New Model for Disaster Recovery: “The Lifeline Services Act” I argued that recovery from natural disasters would occur more quickly if large corporations were required to lead recovery or face fines for complacency. Corporations today are incented by profit, not public service. Readers observed that this kind of solution-based thinking is unlikely to be implemented in a nation that has difficulty following through on anything. The slow pace of the Ampatuan trial, snail’s pace of infrastructure development, laggard prosecution of Napoles and the broad cast of pork plunderers, and other examples abound.
  • The prior blog Estop’s Fables: The Creatures and the Bell served up the lesson that it is important to figure out what the nation should aspire to be, and then take acts necessary to accomplish that national ambition. It is not necessary to follow the American model or any model other than the one that works best.

What Do Philippine Citizens Want to Achieve

I’ve read the Constitution and heard a number of SONAs and examined the Development Plan and it seems there is a disconnect between the values they express and what is actually happening. The words all read right or sound right, but deeds seem to bounce from one crisis to another with no continuity of goal. It is hard to discern the overriding aim of the nation. Is fighting corruption a proper national objective aimed to capture the spirit and ambitions of the land? Is reducing poverty a proper national ideal? Is defending the Spratleys or resolving rebellions a proper reason for being?

I’d prefer something more upbeat myself. Health, happiness, and a fair opportunity for self-improvement, for example. Freedom within a context of responsibility that calls for obedience to laws. So I’ll propose this “national reason for being” as a starting point, and you can develop it further:

  • The Purpose of the Philippine Nation: To assure her citizens of freedom, health, happiness and a fair opportunity for self improvement within a system of laws that protect citizens as they pursue their aspirations.

This would be a nation in motion, the sum of its citizens pursuing self-improvement in a land that sets rules and enforces them.

Now let’s consider why the Philippines today, as the modern world goes whizzing by, seems stuck in a rut of corruption and bickering with a poor system of justice, enduring poverty, weak manufacturing and investment, and a poor response to disasters. Why does so much happen whilst so little changes?

Fat Cats and Pride in the Philippines

A large segment of the population is happy with things as they are. These are the rich people who are getting richer “as is”, those in power who want to remain there, and the hyper-nationalists who resist change.

So there is a mighty core of influential people who don’t believe change is needed.

The Unmovable Mass of Ignorance and Impotence

Poverty creates impotence. Locals understand they cannot even influence Barangay policies, much less the national mood and means. So they are resigned to going with the flow, selling votes, doing as others suggest. What is this, 80 percent of the population? Just being narrowly pragmatic. They are best influenced by personal urging, which is why VP Binay has such power and influence. His network among provincial local leaders is huge. This is a network of favor and promise that is difficult to beat with idealism or even well-intended deeds.

A Nation Divided

Until most people get on the same footing, it is hard to move in unison. Until there is a common understanding and goal and passion, it is hard to get unstuck. And divisiveness characterizes the Philippines. So many islands and languages and local allegiances. The main religion appears not to grab the nation’s heart; superstition reigns and sinners abound. Most plunderers go to church. Provinces are kingdoms. Cities are dukedoms. Dynasties are entitled. Public office is considered a private domain and challengers are too often murdered.

Absence of Nation-Building Values

The main value in the Philippines seems to be to get what one can get, not values that unite and promote shared well-being.

  • It is not a law-based society, for laws are often ignored. Justice and the Judiciary are tied down in process and favor, not fairness. Speed is not seen as an element of justice. Punishment is never connected quickly and clearly to a crime. Bad behavior is too often a winning behavior.
  • Beauty and ecology are not seen as precious, or why are people so intent upon trashing the homeland and turning the seas to barren wastelands of no coral and few fish?
  • The Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”) seems not to exist. There is little effective push of care and concern and anger at those who get in the way of kindness, progress and productivity. Cheaters – so many of them – are viewed with a resigned shrug, or maybe even envied if they get rich enough.
  • There is little customer service orientation mandating competitive products and vigor. The citizen is not king, not matter how often President Aquino calls them “the boss”. Rather, there is a kind of upward draft of authoritarianism that sucks the life and profit out of commercial markets and turns a whole people cynical about government service.
  • Media are not regulated and can engage in their own kind of sensationalist plunder without regard for promoting public well-being.

Without values that care for the community Philippines, deeply held, there is little discipline and little passion for doing things well and doing them right. “Right” means acting for the greater good of the entire nation.

Consensus Is a Spider Web of Inertia

We have a bit of a conundrum. We have a nation of individuals working mainly for themselves, yet they are bound in a web of consensus built mainly on the concept of not offending others. Important decisions are not taken if they have not been properly aired and shared and approved by the various powers that be. Justice cannot render justice because of all the legalistic I’s and t’s that must be dealt with so as not to offend. And worthwhile projects can’t get off the ground until 25 agencies approve the deal. If anyone is ignored, the screaming is loud and shrill. Offense is easily taken. Insult is cause for great anger. Deals die.

This is a nation that has little tolerance for mistakes. Or even perceived mistakes. People simply cannot “let go” of their personal offense if someone else takes a different course of action, or gets a result they consider wrong.

If there is any lapse, any problem, it is someone else’s fault. Too often the fault-finding is murderous. Too often every wrong outcome is laid at the feet of President Aquino.

“We” are never culpable.

It is too often a nation of critics. And from the great screams of relentless criticism emerges a fear of acting boldly, and paralysis.

What Can Be Done?

The nation is stuck.

  • The rich and powerful and super-patriots like what they have.
  • The masses know they have no power.
  • Divided interests supersede national commitment.
  • Core values that build community are weak.
  • Processes are paralyzed by a gigantic web of intense bureaucratic consensus and personal offense, easily taken.

Normally, we would turn to education to find a way to get moving. But the Department of Education is hopelessly mired in its model of rote learning and authoritarian instruction. Schools don’t teach confidence and values and innovation, the soft, complex, personal skills. They mandate memorization of the Table of Elements. Computers and the internet are a low-priority part of the agenda. Never mind that the Table of Elements can be found there.

Legislators are locked into their networks of favor and influence. Half are ineffectual shoe-shoppers, secretaries or boxers and the other half have been bought or are bound by dynastic loyalties.

Justice fails to enforce right over wrong.

The Executive branch is like Gulliver, tied tight in a thousand threads of ego and cross-agency Lilliputian minutiae.

What are the choices? Give up? Or rally in protest, demanding radical change?

Perhaps it is a lot simpler than that.

First, we the people need to join together and push. Nudge the nation into motion, as it were, with thousands of little voices.

Second, we need to expect more of the political leaders. I’d suggest that it is important to redefine what a political party represents. For example, make LP stand for something other than putting the privileged into office. Make it stand for a long term vision, for continuity, for unity.

  • LP should identify its roster of able leaders who can inject modern thinking and values into government thinking for many years to come: Roxas, Abaya, Angara the Young, Poe . . . Let the nation know it has capable leaders in the wings. Not a knee-jerk roster of ambitious self-servers.
  • Position these future stars to lead. Rotate them through the demanding executive jobs that give them the insight and strength to deal with tough problems. DILG Secretary Roxas has had to face extraordinarily difficult issues (Zamboanga, Tacoban) and he is a better national leader for the challenges. Three secretarial jobs are ideal for development of future leaders: Defense, Foreign Affairs, and DILG.
  • Teach that some measure of citizen sacrifice is needed to back those who lead even if they take a different decision than we would on a given issue. End the culture of criticism.

The up-and-coming leaders ought to study the reasons for inertia and commit doing something about them. Remove the friction that causes inertia. Impose constructive national values. Cut through the crosspatch of vested interests. Leverage the middle class as a base of honest, rational thinking. Clean up the courts. Demand good national work from the Legislature.

This requires a vision of national unity, stability, good values, a measure of sacrifice for nation, and crisp execution.

It requires a measure of bold . . . and once the nation is moving, momentum rules . . .

Comments
42 Responses to “Philippine Physics: Inertia Rules”
  1. Bert says:

    The nation is moving forward now, and the majority of the Filipino people is helping the Noynoy government in the acceleration of this movement. Any outside force belonging to the minority who may want or attempt to interfere with this forward movement will answer to the people who are now aware of what’s going on around them.

    The momentum must be sustained. The voting population must be very careful in choosing who to vote come the 2016 election.

    • Joe America says:

      You know, I agree with that Bert. But President Aquino’s progress amounts to zero if the wrong person gets elected in 2016. That can happen because vote buying trumps wisdom. That, plus the lousy shape of Judiciary and slow justice plus slow infrastructure development and weak disaster response. Progress is vulnerable. The main argument is for continuity and less interference, if you think about it.

  2. Proud Pinoy says:

    Joe,

    Noynoy has made great strides in improving the country considering all the damage done by GMA and her cronies. The financial world has taken notice by upgrading the Philippine’s credit rating (which I believe you blogged about). Also, there have been new articles in Bloomberg and Zerohedge discussing our great investment environment despite global uncertainties.

    I hope benign0 and BongV haven’t dragged you down with their negativity. Our Great Leap Forward is at hand. Those who participate shall be rewarded both spiritually and financially.

    Let us hope for a great year ahead!

  3. Dee says:

    I read a very succinct article about why the Philippines failed to become a Tiger economy. Its main premise is that political dynasties and clientelism are the roots of most of the country’s malaise. It brought about case studies of areas in Naga and Cebu where the masses are voting intelligently: acting like smart consumers by doing their research on candidates available before casting their votes. This voters’ behavior seems to attract reformists and progressive thinking leaders which in turn benefits the towns as well the voters themselves. There are some pockets of goodness in the Philippines. There are indigenous models of good citizenship and governance in Naga and Cebu. These areas, their people and their leaders, need to be showcased and publicized nationally.

    http://whynationsfail.com/blog/2013/1/22/no-more-wang-wang-in-the-philippines.html

    The authors are Americans, a fact that might be taken with contempt by some. To that I say, foreigners or overseas Filipinos are more objective in their observations of the Philippines’ situation than someone who is living in the midst of it all. You can ascribe malevolent intentions to these “outsiders” but this much is true: they truly care about the Filipinos and their future.

    • Joe America says:

      A lot to your comment, Dee. “Clientelism” is an interesting concept. Rather like the trade of favors amongst satisfied fat cats. I also agree that Mr. Aquino’s style of honest governance has fostered a lot more good thinking across the land. My own municipality is trending toward modern thinking and honesty, and it is reflected in a generally peaceful community and all-around good work and good spirits. The outsider view is indeed instructive, but I think it, too, has to be taken as half the picture. The other half is provided by residents in the Philippines. If the two sides would lay down arms and seek to merge their good intentions, we’d have a wholesome whole picture. I find disturbing the extremes in either group, the outsiders who think the Philippines can do no right, and the insiders who think the outsiders somehow betray the Philippines.

      • Dee says:

        Philippines path to success is an upward incline. The mass (corruption, clientelism, political dynasties, negative values & beliefs, etc.) is too great that a greater force (laws, reforms, outside influences, social engineering, etc.) should be applied to push it to the top. Hopefully, there’s a cliff at the end of the incline so the bad mass could be pushed off the ledge.

  4. Joseph-Ivo says:

    Love physics and believe that the rotational Inertia of a sphere you pictured is quite simple, it only depends of two variables, I = f(R,M)

    Inertia in the general theory of relativity in the time-space curvature is more complex and near to impossible to understand.

    Equally difficult is the Inertia for change in human undertakings, I = f(systems, culture, Δ should/actual, variation, …)
    – Systems: very formalistic, procedural, not result oriented
    – Culture: family-/ego-centric, conservative, autocratic…
    – Difference between should and actual: income wise enormous, justice enormous, only a formal democracy
    – Variation: geographically, languages, peoples, income, education… all enormous

    Movement or change is proportional to force over inertia. Knowing that the inertia is enormous, means that we will need gigantic forces to achieve change.

    What forces are available? – Part 2 tomorrow –

    • Joseph-Ivo says:

      Part 2

      To counteract the almost unlimited inertia (see the cases Joeam mentioned and many more, known for ages and nothing is happening.) we will have to maximize all available forces. Some starting thoughts:

      – Change agents. A good inventory is needed for better coordination until a critical mass is achieved. Thinking of new politicians – Robredo style -, OFW’s and netizens no more satisfied with the status quo, NGO’s… Courage is easier mobilized in a larger group.

      – Creation of common enemies. Why fight each other when strong enemies are surrounding us such as natural disasters, but also things like the wang-wangs that the president declared enemy number one in his first speech.

      – Benchmarks / best in class cases. The world around us is changing too, not all has to be reinvented here, where are the good examples?

      – Knowledge, belief and anger of/in/about needs and missed potentials. How to make the less privileged believe it can change, how to tap their potential?

      – New communication channels. How to use better the pulpit of YouTube and the daily gossip on Facebook and reach out to the “non-believers”? A lot of today’s internet activities are just echo chambers.

      – MONEY! Money keeps the world turn around. Who wants to invest in change? Who invests in keeping things the same? How to expose them?

      – Science on how to turn knowledge into action – see part 3 –

      • Joe America says:

        Superb ideas. I particularly like “Change Agents”, and believe a political party could be one of the best of these if they got past their tendency to organize around people to organize around principles. Also the common enemy approach is excellent. Lots to chew on here, and a blog or two in the waiting, for sure. Keep those parts coming . . . 🙂

    • Joseph-Ivo says:

      Part 3

      A lot of research around change exist, the one book that helped me to assist organizations to change was “The Knowing-Doing Gap” by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton. I’ll use it as a guide to write down some more ideas.

      5 Important mechanism that create delays:

      1. When talk substitutes for action.
      When you watch TV, people are always competing on the precision of information gathered, they use as many irrelevant figures in a number as possible, I always wonder where they will spent these centavos. The number of abbreviation they know, the number and date of a law. Seldom they stick to telling what they did. The priority concern is recite informationg (got by interviews not forensic evidence – Mariano- ;-), not to get results.
      2. When memory substitutes for thinking.
      As said knowing the name of all elements is important, even if you don’t have a clue what they are and why it is called a periodic table. Copying the actions in a mathematical calculation without knowing what you are doing. Often situation are not identical to the previous one and need some critical thinking, lack of this delays actions.
      3. When fear prevents action on knowledge.
      Even the security guards in our subdivision, knowing that a loud 24hr Karaoke is not allowed, don’t dare to intervene as many guests are outsiders, drunk and might have weapons. (The Dasma guards were heroes, who dares to contradict a Binay?)
      4. When measurement obstructs good judgment.
      Bean counter precision when it is not needed. Absolute figures when percentages tell more. Irrelevant figures. GDP growth when individual poverty is the issue. Not knowing the accuracy of a number. Waiting for the final number when the estimate is obvious 100x above acceptable values.
      5. When internal competition turns friends into enemies.
      Mentioned in mail 2

      8 Posiible actions:

      1. Why before how: philosophy is important.
      Joeam explained… And teachers don’t teach if you don’t understand yourself.
      2. What leaders do, how they spent their time and how they allocate resources matters.
      Watch Robredo… And teachers walk your talk.
      3. Action counts more than elegant plans and concepts.
      Journalists have a bias for discuss plans and concepts. So much that the PDAF scandal was possible, nobody noticed zero outcome from these interventions. 100 million to the LGU Manila, the plan is an issue, what happened with the previous millions nobody cares… And teachers do more exercises so pupils can do instead of learn by heart.
      4. There is no doing without mistakes and know how to respond.
      A mistake is losing face. Doing nothing is the safest option. How can you learn without making mistakes? … And teachers embrace creative mistakes, punish repetitive ones.
      5. Drive out fear.
      Punish the villains. (Do vigilantes really work? Duerte (Binay?) versus Robredo.) Reduce the number of guns…. And teachers welcome criticism.
      6. Measure only what matters.
      Differentiate between early warnings and final results. Most often knowing the first 2 figures suffice… And teachers teach basic understanding, especially in math.
      7. Knowing comes from doing and teaching others.
      Intellectual knowing is not enough, “share of mind leads to thinking”. Action only comes from beliefs, beliefs come from experience, doing things…And teachers, exercises, exercises, exercises.
      8. Fight the competition, not your each other.
      Let’s identify the “enemies” and go to “war”!

      • Joe America says:

        Brilliant. Positively. So many jewels here. I’ll let them stand for themselves.

        • sonny says:

          I agree, Joe. Joseph has carried the idea of inertia and applied it to its Philippine socio-political analog well. I too would like to use a Physical Science analogy of Newtonian vs Quantum models and apply them to gravitational accretion in Philippine socio-political behavior. But I can’t do it as clearly as Joseph did. Very tempting, nevertheless. Kudos to Joseph.

  5. bebot says:

    Happy New Year to you and to your family. May God’s graces and blessings be with you throughout the year. It’s a fantastic relief you are back.
    ——————————————————————–

    Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoritical checks – no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without virtue in the people is a chimerical idea.
    James Madison

    It’s utterly frustrating and disappointing that Filipinos haven’t develop core ethical values such as respect, responsibility, trustworthy, honesty, fairness and compassion that have become stumbling blocks in the growth and development of the Philippines. The ” I ” and ” ME ” first principles of the rich – companies and corporations, the corrupt politicians and the unworthiness of the social and moral justice being rendered the judges have indeed put a very high price on the upliftment of the poor people from their poverty. But in the first place, what or who has the societal role to inculcate these values – the parents, the school (education) or the church? All of these have pivotal role to play, but up to what extent they are performing their responsibilities that they leave much to be desired, that in doing so, they fail their children, the society, and the country>

    Yes, I agree that a high magnitude of force is the best recourse to bring about the much needed change.

    • Joe America says:

      And good wishes to you for the new year, bebot.

      We shall keep pushing the good values, eh? President Aquino has made great strides in breaking down some of the unhealthy values, but they are so deeply and broadly entrenched that he needs a little help.

  6. baycas says:

    Bravo, @JoeAm.

    Policy makers need to re-read this article a number of times in order for the Strategy Change Cycle to move further…always with improvement in mind.

    The see-saw governance from bad-to-good and vice versa must end somewhere. A better 2016-2022 outlook and so on must be our vision, mission.

    If only the core values are culturally changed, emphasized, engraved (“isapuso“), and practiced (“isabuhay“) then we shall have a great Filipino nation.

    The “Cheatus” among us is presently slowly being killed…the next one at the helm must not be of the same species.

  7. Cebuana C.A. says:

    I haven’t been updated on what’s going on there. I hope that you’re doing okay knowing that you lived in a disaster-prone zone. To be honest, I have this like-despise relationship with philippine politics. For one, tribalism (and you’re definitely right; but I don’t agree with you on church, sorry) is what is pervasive among our leaders and those unthinking, greedy followers of theirs. My dad who was lawyer in Cebu told me this when I was thirteen. Our economy was climbing up through 1950s to 60s, but then the Marcos administration changed all this and turned everything there upside down.
    He really damaged our culture (and some American even wrote about this in the late 80s after deposing him). He influenced a number of others who also wanted to be just as powerful and influential as he was. Check out Enrile – he was an ex-Marcos cronee. I believed that EDSA 1986 was hijacked by these ex-cronees, because obviously they didn’t want to lose their faces in front of the already, tired angry public then.
    My dad remembered how also many smart, middle-class, level-headed people even left in droves for the U.S.during the Marcos martial law years – and right after EDSA 1986. It also developed among filipinos, some bad perceptions of the U.S. for not deposing our dictator right away while he was still in power (I believe it resulted with the U.S. bases leaving the country because of so much negative perceptions of it- perhaps reminded them so much of the Marcos plundering disservice of the public).
    If Marcos’ notoriety was that influential that it changed the face of the Philippine society in 20 years, it should take somebody who is an anti-thesis to him to make radical, positive outcomes in the country as a whole – but I don’t think it’s Aquino, even though he’s done a small good step of paving that way. But there should be somebody with as much influence as that of Marcos – smart, efficient, charismatic, but doesn’t have his criminal edge.

    This is just all my two-cents 🙂

    • Joe America says:

      Your two cents is worth a million, US. I sometimes think you are correct, that an authoritarian culture requires an authoritarian leader. My suggestion that LP establish continuity going forward that the people can trust is a step short of that, rather a “soft, elected dictatorship” I suppose. I appreciate the real-life perspective.

  8. cha says:

    ” To assure her citizens of freedom, health, happiness and a fair opportunity for self improvement within a system of laws that protect citizens as they pursue their aspirations. ”

    I like how you captured this statement of national purpose. It is succinct, easily grasped, and inspiring while still grounded on a realistic vision of what the Filipino nation can and should really afford its citizenry.

    You have also captured well the forces behind the inertia or the frustratingly slow pace of change if not the seeming inability for change to happen in this country at all. I wish I could say otherwise, but the problems you have identified are all real and just staring back at us like we were looking into a mirror. Sigh.

    And this is the land where I am headed to next week. (So thanks for the heads up. Haha!) Even then I am still filled with excitement to be back, even for just a few days. To savor the exhilarating madness and intoxicating chaos that almost always feels familiar once one gets on shore.

    But if I could but influence even just one relative, friend or even a total stranger to see things differently, to reject complacency and aspire or better still demand from his government a better deal, and to be prepared himself to do his part as well, then I suppose this visit would have been a meaningful one. That, after all, is the nature of incremental change, one little tweak here and there, done by many (as Joseph-ivo said in a previous post, more of the same results in more or something like that) eventually has the power to result in substantial change through time.

    In the meantime, I leave the big muscle moves (or at least the ideas for them) with the likes of you. If anybody asks, I’m on holiday!

    • Joe America says:

      Have a great holiday, Cha. I will be most interested in your readout of your visit when you get back to the computer.

      What seems to me to be missing from the national purpose, especially among the working poor, is the clear sense that “I can improve my lot in life if I go for the opportunities; they are real, with education for my kids and diligent work”, and the state must make sure those opportunities are real. That’s what drives America, I know (although I hate to raise the comparison). Almost everyone BELIEVES there are opportunities for self improvement. Jobs, raises, bonuses, promotions . . .

      • cha says:

        On what’s missing from the national purpose: in Oz speak, that’s called getting a fair go, i.e. a decent chance, a reasonable opportunity to complete or accomplish something. In the Philippines it’s more like what they say in the tupada or cockfighting, one starts off either as llamado or dehado. Either you already have the upper hand or you’re hopelessly disadvantaged. Sigh again.

      • sandman says:

        “What seems to me to be missing from the national purpose, especially among the working poor, is the clear sense that “I can improve my lot in life if I go for the opportunities;”
        Blame the movie and television industry. Filipinos get their inspirations from what they have watched. These producers are only looking for profits and producing all trash, nothing inspirational like the Gifted Hands-The Benjamin Carson Story.

  9. brianitus says:

    Hey, Uncle Joe.

    Based on your bullets on the “What can be done” section:

    “The nation is stuck.
    The rich and powerful and super-patriots like what they have.
    The masses know they have no power.
    Divided interests supersede national commitment.
    Core values that build community are weak.
    Processes are paralyzed by a gigantic web of intense bureaucratic consensus and personal offense, easily taken.”

    The easiest to address there is the last one — PROCESS. Processes can be measured and improved. On a national scope, they appear “manageable”. It can be one process at a time, backed with an information drive for the powerless masses. They should know the minimum guaranteed product a process can deliver, kind of like in a fast food restaurant. Getting people to think of government and its agencies as something similar to a Jollibee or McDo. I don’t know if that made sense.

    I wanted to post some more but I realized that I’d only end up ranting about a lack of true leadership in this country, something your article pointed out. Sure, the current administration is a start but its term is nearing an end. Let’s see in the future.

    In the meantime, while I wait for the future, I could start with that thought from Mahatma — be the change. Either that or I could just wish for an asteroid of altruism to hit this country and get things seriously moving.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, young whippersnapper, that last bullet point is an interesting one, to me, the rat’s nest of cross-interests that bring everything to a complete stop. It took 12 signatures and a whole year for us to get a titled property divided and titled in our name. And poor Secretary Abaya. Getting infrastructure done is like pulling teeth ahahahaha. Rivalries and jealous bickering. Gadzooks! (I liked the imagery of Gulliver tied down by miles of Lilliputian string.)

      Be the change is a good starting point.

      • brianitus says:

        Oh, poor Abaya indeed.

        Department secretaries should think more in the line of customer touchpoints. Imagine this: a regular one does not have a lot of transactions with the gov’t in a year. But when he does, is he getting quality service? Imho, gov’t should realize that those little disappointments tend to multiply into one BIG lumpia called “Gov’t is Corrupt/ Inutile”.
        I think gov’t needs a marketer at the helm. Someone who believes that it isn’t all about PR/ communication. But someone hellbent on delivering a real product tied to a firm deadline.

    • Joseph-Ivo says:

      Processes, I like that. Several years ago we started introducing 6 Sigma in a government department. E.g. A team of lawyers using a lot of statistics to analyze the data they collected in a judicial process could reduce throughput times of judicial cases from more than 2 years to 4 month, requiring only half the number of signatures. But process mapping and measurements also make things very transparent and in the old administration not everybody liked that. Later I heard that when the director -our sponsor- passed away, things returned to the old ways.

  10. Joseph-Ivo says:

    It looks we are not the only ones frustrated over disaster plans and over the lack of follow through:
    http://opinion.inquirer.net/69309/how-has-ra-101211-been-implemented

    I like the conclusion: “So it seems a complete program has been laid out by Congress. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Just implement it.”

    The urgent question isn’t how to improve the plan, but what are the roadblocks that can slow down the implementation followed by removing them.

    • Joe America says:

      An interesting article. The law itself is perhaps part of the problem, being so incredibly detailed that no one can really absorb it, and raising more questions than it answers. The law and the article both recognize the cross-interests that lay at the heart of the problems with disaster response implementation. I am fascinated that this is a hierarchical nation that operates with cross-interests so detailed and complex as to be frozen. I say develop a hierarchy of authority, not coordination committees.

      • sonny says:

        I like everything (article & comments) in this installment. Yet, it’s like Kickapoo joy juice: put in the typewriter so that all vitamins from A thru Z would somehow come out. Totally no offense intended. It’s just that I don’t know what will be the net juice everyone will be willing to taste n drink. (Apologies to the Yokums of the Philippine Dogpatch. I love this “blogpatch”!!)

      • sonny says:

        P.S. I will wait for a metaphor bearing the Philippine Chemistry and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and the Philippine situation. (a kindred mind, I hope)

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  1. […] glitzy and shallow and the media news is flashy and grisly and shallow. Inertia is huge (see “Philippine Physics: Inertia Rules“). Concepts like productivity and punctuality and efficiency are foreign words . . . or swear […]



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