The working class: breaking out, moving up, or stuck?

laboring01

A few blogs ago, I said that there are two voting classes in the Philippines, (1) those with opportunity to educate and enrich themselves and (2) those without.

  • In the former are rich people and the middle class. People with the means to get educated, get a decent job and grow. Or people with connections, usually family connections, that pave a path to advancement. Call center workers are in this class if they work for foreign management that motivates by training, promotions and bonuses. They are not in this class if they work in a sweat shop.
  • In the “without” class are the laboring masses, the jeepney and taxi drivers, most construction workers, tricycle peddlers, rice field workers, coconut harvesters, fishermen, packing plant workers, and other lower-scale workers having little promise that there will ever be anything else, ever be anything better.

Let’s let the rich people and middle class pursue their opportunities and focus on the working class for this discussion.

If we look about and watch and ask and listen, it seems that we can put these hard working Filipinos into three subordinate classes. I say hard working because without question Filipinos CAN work hard when they want to. They can also be slackards with great devotion because, if you are going nowhere, why not? Rizal’s “indolent” class is JoeAm’s “without opportunity” class.

We have:

  • The workers who are breaking out, moving into the stream of opportunity, advancement and enrichment. They are heading for middle class! How do they do it?
  • Those who are moving up, finding a better place, a better job and, if not enrichment, at least some opportunity to enliven life a bit. A new cell phone or cable TV subscription or better clothes for junior. How do they do it?
  • Those who are stuck. They have little education, little mobility, few influential friends, and are dedicated to simply putting food on the table today. Tomorrow they will find a way to eat, too. And the next day, one at a time. Is there no way to build a path up and maybe out?

We want more of the first two categories, for that is where promise resides, the kind of hope that generates optimism and motivates innovation and productivity, and will make the nation whole.

We know we will always need a laboring class, but it would be nice if they had at least some measure of job security and a little better pay.

Let’s consider each class further.

Breaking Out

What are the factors that enable a working person to break out, to materially improve his or her opportunity and wealth? Let’s just go with our observations, our guesses, for this is not scientific. It is conceptual. Break-out Filipinos did one or more of the following:

  • They did well in school and graduated from college.
  • They went overseas, caught a job with a company that prized their ability, and got promoted to increasingly more meaningful jobs.
  • They got a job with a friend or relative, or a friend of a friend, and were mentored and cared for. They may not have been within the “dynasty”, but they networked themselves into a break . . . and a break-out.
  • They married someone comparatively wealthier.
  • They went to work for a domestic company and were in the right place at the right time. There is as much good luck as bad luck in the world.

In short,

  • Education
  • Well-placed OFW
  • Networking
  • Marriage
  • Luck

Is there anything that can be done to increase the breakout opportunities? You betcha:

  • Make sure provincial schools have good teachers and teach English from the getgo.
  • Establish a national effort to place OFW’s with large overseas companies.
  • Teach networking in high school and begin networking as a discipline in colleges.
  • Entice more foreigners to the Philippines.
  • Teach young people that they can make their own luck. Circle back to education . . .

Without question, breaking out requires that an individual get noticed and appreciated by someone with means. The objective ought to be to multiply the number of such opportunities.

Moving Up

Moving up is easier than breaking out. How is it generally done? The people moving up did one or more of the following:

  • They did okay in school.
  • They got a working job overseas.
  • They used contacts to get a decent job in the Philippines.
  • They married someone with a decent job and the two salaries together improved both lives.
  • They did not get tied down with kids.

Interesting. We see the same themes here. Education. OFW networks. Networking. Marriage. Ha! And a new one, family planning.

Well, that probably applies to the “Breaking Out” crowd as well. But it is a big step that separates “Moving Up” from being “Stuck”.

And, too, luck is also a factor. We can add that back in.

Stuck

Those with little opportunity essentially find themselves without:

  • Education
  • OFW opportunity
  • Networks outside the stuck community
  • Marriage outside the stuck community
  • Family planning
  • Luck

The breadth of poverty in the Philippines remains awe-inducing. The huge numbers of families living only with the help of handouts and family, crammed 10 to a small room, lacking water and sanitation, battling injuries and sickness with horrible health care. Begging in emergencies.

And Senator Revilla has the godawful deafness of soul to complain about his incarceration cell and Senator Estrada won’t eat the food served there.

The stuck are an uneducated population that lives on rumors and superstition and the moral teachings of a church that denies any accountability for conditions across the land. The poor will fish with small scale nets even if they scrape the seas to desert, will dynamite for food, will sell a vote for food, will climb coconut trees with no safety belt for food, will peddle a bicycle for P5 a ride, uphill, all day. For food.

The current government approach is the offering of small cash grants to families that keep their kids healthy and in school. That is certainly in the right direction, involving a minimum commitment from the families in exchange for cash. Is it working?

It can’t hurt, I suppose, and maybe there are a few trickle down jobs added because of the extra cash flowing into poor communities.

What about the economic pool, the market for jobs, into which the better educated population is moving? It’s too thin, growing too slowly, too concentrated in Manila to provide enough jobs for the rapidly birthing families stuck in the provinces.

“And in conclusion . . .”

The framework for breaking out and moving up is substantially in place. The challenge is in the numbers, the huge demand for an upward lift, the millions of people who could benefit from a helping hand. Here’s the picture, or one version of it:

Education. The Philippines has the broad educational infrastructure in place to make a difference. It needs to tailor a curriculum that teaches aspiration rather than memorization so that graduating students are motivated to look for, and know how to create, their own opportunities. Teachers need to be paid more and pay should be tied to the quality of their teaching. TESDA is a very important bridge between basic education and skill jobs that can support a family. We should take another look at this organization. A couple of years ago, we did and were not impressed (“Duck! TESDA, a branch in the eyeball“).

The job market. Economic growth is important. It creates the field of opportunity for workers. If the choice is between DAP and slow growth, why are we complaining about DAP? What are our priorities here, process or result? Get more manufacturing into the Philippines and more foreign investment. Identify the successes. Replicate them. Build a military/industrial center in Mindanao and attack two issues at once: jobs and defense. Entice Japanese manufacturers to move over from China.

The effort to get more manufacturing into the Philippines should be priority one for poverty reduction. Go after that with an intensity of purpose that reflects how serious the effort should be. We’re doing it with tourism. Give manufacturing that same enthusiasm, that same investment. “It’s more profitable in the Philippines.”

OFW placement. The Philippines works earnestly at caring for OFWs. The agency responsible for this is the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), under the Department of Labor and Employment. Fund it well. Give placement as much emphasis as protection and caretaking. The mission:

  • POEA connects the world and in partnership with all stakeholders, facilitates the generation and preservation of decient jobs for Filipino migrant workers, promotes their protection and advocates their smooth reintegration into Philippine society. (“POEA About Us“)

Philippine nationalism. It is sadly ironic to me that a nation bogged down in poverty chooses, for the sake of some provincial halo of sovereign being, to shun the wealth of foreign investors, pushes it away out of fear that foreigners will take Filipino jobs. WHAT jobs? Foreigners would CREATE jobs, not take them. Man, get rid of the self-imposed barrier to new jobs and get rid of red tape, too. Nit-picking processes and nationalistic protectionism steal jobs from the poor.

Social values. Is there a connection between the birth rate and millions of jobless? Between condoms and the ability to find work? The Catholic Church believes not, and simply faults government for failing to provide the needed jobs. Does divorce have anything to do with personal opportunity? I personally believe there is a connection between the CHOICES that one has, and finding a job. It’s mathematical. A woman tied down to an abusive philandering husband is a woman who cannot travel to Manila to find her own better way. A mother with two kids has 20 years worth of opportunity to develop herself and find a career; a mother locked down birthing 10 kids has zero.

In conclusion, I think the Philippines has the essential framework in place to give a lot of laboring people a way up and out. The barriers to doing more are substantially of the mind, of investments shunned in favor of sovereignty, of a misplaced sense of what constitutes sin, of an overabundant sense of “get it now” (red tape and fees on businesses) versus building for the future (no fees or red tape). Of schools that are teaching the wrong things and placement networks (TESDA, POEA) that need to become more robust and productive.

The biggest mental barrier is possibly that held by laborers who are convinced there is no where to go.

Who is working on that, I wonder?

And who is proving to them that there ARE avenues up . . . and out?

 

Comments
35 Responses to “The working class: breaking out, moving up, or stuck?”
  1. Janice says:

    I’d like to add culture as a factor. Some local cultures, even though isolated from Manila and the mainstream, do have higher education levels and Human Development Index. A wonderful case is Batanes. VERY isolated from the Philippine main islands but is a province that has a relatively high HS graduate rates and relatively high Human Development Index and is relatively untouched my commercialism and industrialization.

    Meanwhile, some people think the way to “mobilize” themselves is through marrying a ” grampa foreigner” which IMO, is not a really long term solution. If the “foreigner” decides to stay in the PH and not bring the spouse to their developed country, the good life will not last long. After the foreigner dies, it’s back to square one…esp if the family is particularly bad at handling finances. Not saying marrying a foreigner is bad in itself but it isn’t really a solution if your marrying a 4M(Matandang Middle-class, madaling mamatay, LOL)

    The HDI between the provinces in the Philippines is staggering. The top performers are comparable to countries that have potential while the lagards are comparable to the poorest nations in Africa. I have a Maranao friend who was in Maguindanao for volunteer work and she was disgusted that there were barely employees in the city hall..and Maguindanao is one of the poorest provinces and they have been getting significant aid from the national government. Talk about ghost employees.

    Some local cultures value education that the students there would travel for miles by foot just to get to school. While other local cultures think even reading skills are rubbish.

    http://www.ph.undp.org/content/philippines/en/home/presscenter/pressreleases/2013/07/29/human-development-index-highlights-inequality-slow-pace-of-progress/

    The National Government have to hold the provincial governments accountable rather than giving them more “aid” that has gotten nowhere

    —-
    I think the PH should adopt its own version of the GI bill. Military service in exchange for education. I think this can partly solve some financial issues and lure people to pursue higher education. It’s not a be-all but it’s an added option for those determined to pursue but is held back by money. The National government will have to adjust the budget though. Haha. The Defense is barely 1% of the GDP. Also a good way to have a “military” that can be “tapped” if the current volunteers are stretched out.

    • macspeedmacspeed says:

      The poor can join military for education is a good point, however the Philippine military system has its own requirement of minimum educational attainment before one can join. Some deserving students in the primary goes to scholarship program, but what about those who has limited knowledge, as Joe Am asked, there is a mental barrier for laborers that there is no hope at all.

      In a small town, a mayor rules busy with the towns agenda for education, business operation, tax collection other necessity, however, it seems, there is no specific department that provide support for laborers. The Social worker group may or may not exist in a town but if there are most of them are attending to Health solution and temporary relief of hunger and poverty.

      Government has to have a budget for this requirement to educate the laborers for progress. Remove all Red tapes so that the poor guys can have interest otherwise they will remain lazy and just drink tuba and wait for the end of the day, hopeless…

      • Janice says:

        The minimum requirement that I see as silly is actually the height requirement. Other Minimum requirement should be kept because this will be the gauge if they are really willing for this exchange, not merely milking out the system. If there are students who walk for miles from far flung areas just to go to school and actually excel, it shouldn’t be much of a barrier. Says a lot about their character. And they deserve it. There is no such thing as free lunch. Freeloading should not be promoted. Reciprocation should. If freeloading will be promoted, people will just try to go under the poverty threshold and work less so they could get money as what some people in the US are doing regarding the food stamps/EBT. Heck, you even see this people paying their food with food stamps but they have very expensive smartphones and tablets!

        There is TESDA for laborers. It’s almost akin to what community college in CA offer as Community Education. A lot of our problems boil down to the local government units. They need to be held accountable for their actions. If there are local governments that can utilize TESDA, why can’t other LGUs not?

        Take for example their dismal preventive measurements to minimize the destruction from the Super typhoon than struck Tacloban hard. What did the local government of Romualdez do despite all the warning from meteorologists that the strength of the supertyphoon was unbelievable? Now, contrast that to a tiny town(I forgot the name but it was in Eastern Visayas, too) where the mayor really attended to its constituents and really heed the warning of its incredible strength and really evacuated people from the coastal areas? If I remember right, the Romualdez family actually spent their time in the their “resort” which was just by the coast. And they all blamed it on the national government and make drama in front of the media that was already attending to the victims of the earthquake in Bohol just a few weeks earlier.

        Local culture of a town/city does have a lot to say how a place is run.

        What the national government has to do is to really hold poor-performing LGUs accountable. So much for the talk of “imperial Manila” but then when it comes to “kapalpakan”, they don’t even hold themselves accountable. Nothing really different from politicians who blame the US for the state of the PH military but hardly doing anything to make the military stronger.

        • Joe America says:

          See also my remarks to macspeed. I also really really like your last idea, of holding LGUs accountable. A corporation is only as productive as its departments, a government . . . same.

          • josephivo says:

            There is a striking correlation between dynasties and growth/poverty. A “Robredo” major can make an enormous difference.

            (still no power here…, luckily there is Starbucks)

            • Joe America says:

              (I feel your pain.) Local power is indeed extraordinary. Extraordinarily good or extraordinarily bad. It is powerful localities that put people like Gloria Arroyo and Imelda Marcos into office.

      • Joe America says:

        I put your last couple of lines together with my last couple of lines and I think you have inspired another blog topic, something along the lines of “morality and ethics are variables”. A tuba swilling subsistence laborer is only doing “wrong” by those with an avid work ethic and the rewards of opportunity that go along with it. Or rather, the opportunity forms the basis of the work ethic. The poor who live day to day do not have that same opportunity. The drives and ethics are different. Use the kids, the family, anybody for support, find a job if there is one, don’t overdo the work because the job will go away next week no matter what I do. There is nothing “wrong” with the tuba ethic. But if we want a healthy, productive country, we will supply the hope that changes the ethic. Provide opportunity for longevity of employment and higher wages, one begetting the other.

        • Janice says:

          Which boils down to an intertwined local culture. I agree that a job that isn’t stable is likely to attract hardworking people. At the same time, there are people who get stable jobs but are “freeloaders” still who will use politics rather than hard work to get to the ranks. This does not only happen in the Philippines, I can also see this among some US workers. Providing the opportunity for stable job will really get some motivate but at the same time, there will be people who be freeloaders.

          Not only that, many of the “jobs” created are jobs for the sake of “hiring” someone rather than a job that is actually productive. Take for example many jobs at malls. It’s like their only job is to stand and watch customers. Any job, as long as… it’s a job

          I think another problem in the Philippines is how people look at manual labor (something that is cultural). Manual laborers are always thought of as for the uneducated “probinsyano” and it reflects on how employers treat their manual employees. Why are engineers and architects looked up to but the construction workers who literally make those infrastructures looked down upon? To make things worse for them, they don’t have a stable job.

          I’m for social welfare and long term job opportunities. However, governments must also be careful not to give the idea to people that everything is literally “free” and breeding generations of freeloaders.

          • Joe America says:

            I agree, Whenever I consider the current cash grants, it is with raised eyebrow, because I think money should be earned, not gifted. But the program does have requirements for health care and education for kids, so that is in a way earning the money. I don’t know how supervision is conducted.

            My real problem is that the need is so great and the solutions so long-term that I have no better ideas. And my eyebrows come back down when I sleep. 🙂

        • josephivo says:

          This is the 1800’s in action, “if you keep them poor, we will keep them stupid” the priest told the factory owner, creating a win-win situation.

  2. Micha says:

    On foreign investors…

    I couldn’t name a single developed or first world country which relied on foreign investors as the major anchor of their development or gave their working class a dignified status.

    For a developing country like the Philippines to make a major policy reliance on foreign investors is, imo, not only shortsighted but misplaced. The movement of globalized capital is bad news for the well-being of the working class. Exhibit A : China.

    • Joe America says:

      It is hard to compare China and the Philippines, I think. I agree that the whole economy ought not be turned over to foreigners, but that the blockage of ANY inflow of new money is rather wrong-directional for a nation as absolutely needy as the Philippines. All spigots should be opened. Unless we want to promote more OFWs as the way to go instead. To me, sovereignty is not a state of exclusion of others, but a state of control of one’s own destiny.

      • Micha says:

        Joe, the Philippines is starved of knowledge, not capital.

        • Joe America says:

          And, indeed, another reason to bring in foreign investment: it comes with knowledge.

          • Vernon says:

            There are, perhaps, so many forms of foreign investments out there. Some may come in the form of Public-Private Partnerships, aids/grants/loans (WB or IMF or JICA etc.) or foundations grants. All these may serve to help jump start development. The biggest obstacle, it seems, is the country’s very poor infrastructure package(roads, public waterways system, domestic airports, rural electrification, peace and order situations, potable water delivery systems, health programs, communications system and the like). This area needs attention.

            A decent road network system alone may help bring consumer prices to reasonable levels because regions will be able to trade with each other. It may also hasten job mobility and knowledge transfers. Lastly, a well funded, efficiently managed infrastructure development and improvement effort is an economic engine in itself – it creates jobs, economic demands and spending and so on, ad infinitum. This worked in Malaysia and their infra network there is great. It’s all about political will.

            Nice article, Joe. Hope the right people pick this up.

            vernon

        • Micha says:

          How will that square with the aim of empowering Filipinos if they should rely on the knowledge of foreigners?

          If those foreign investors would, for one reason or another, suddenly realize it’s not anymore profitable to do business here and decide to pack up, would we be able to pick up the slack or maybe steal their knowledge?

          Overall, it’s not a pretty formula for nation building.

          • Joe America says:

            It depends on how much probability you assign to different ways to gain the knowledge the nation is starved of. Importing it from abroad may be a faster way than teaching two generations of kids to be creative and accountable. The Japanese took over a lot of US businesses in the 70’s, not so much for the profits, but because they could get insight into how Americans run things so successfully. The Philippines could do it that way, too. Or the Oligarchs could be more proactive in developing development and executive talent and divide up their empires to create some competitive markets. The schools do teach it, but somehow it gets lost in the translation, or the lack of capital to deploy the knowledge.

            We can go in circles on this, I guess. I have no problem with no foreign investment if Filipinos are indeed making great strides to build a globally competitive economy.

            • Janice says:

              IMO, the Philippines should lift the restrictions on foreign teachers especially in tertiary education. The Philippines does not have extensive R&D program (understandable since R&D is really expensive and will exhaust the national budget) but the Philippines could bring in knowledge by removing restrictions or at least being more “generous” to foreigners to work in the Philippines, at least on certain high end jobs.

              It may seem “oppressive” against some Filipino professionals at first and on the surface but once the knowledge trickles down, the locals will have an advantage at this point being cheaper to hire but having the same knowledge.

          • Janice says:

            What exactly is “knowledge of foreigners”? Knowledge belongs to the world.

            Paper and gunpowder was developed in China but is used throughout the world. It can be even argued that the idea of printing press was born in China using the wood blocks. The concept of Zero originated from present day India. The Arabs developed Algebra…so on and so forth.

            The modern day catamaran is is largely derived from the double hull indigenous boats of the Polynesians (and arguably the entire Austronesian native culture that used outrigger canoe)

            People should stop politicizing knowledge. The political borders we see right now, in fact are created and conceptualized by humans. It is not inherent in nature. So does knowledge. It knows no boundaries.

            It is this “let’s not rely on the knowledge of foreigners” is what is stifling the Philippines’ growth. It restricts the inflow of knowledge.

            Our ancestors has been in the Islands for 5,000 years (talking about the Austronesian majority). The Philippines as a political entity has been in existence for only 400 years (Yes, I’m counting the Spanish occupation since after all they originally created the Philippines as a political entity). Our ancestors have been open to foreign knowledge which is why they even adopted and made their own version of the written language (Baybayin is derived from an Indian script)

            • Micha says:

              The reference to knowledge is relevant only in the contextual discussion of this blog thread.

              Largely it meant technological and industrial knowledge as a utility for building and developing an economy and, by extension, a nation.

          • JM says:

            I am not sure if it is pride or you just have a totally different view. The FACT is this country is way behind. If the knowledge is already available, you don’t try to create it from scratch because it would just be a waste of time. The most efficient way is to try to improve what is already available. That is how science and technology evolves. If we try to limit ourselves to discriminating knowledge because it came from a foreigner then our country will never grow.

          • josephivo says:

            Filipino’s have this knack of choosing to compete with the wrong assets. Basketball as national sport when they lack the required length as an example. Competing on cheap labor when international labor cost is not in their hands. They should compete on efficiency, quality, speed, flexibility instead as some are doing so successfully. Braking open a oligarchical market by keeping out foreigners? Belief your strengths, build on it, fast learning is one of your strengths.

        • Micha says:

          The French, the Germans, the South Koreans, the Japanese all take pride in the fact that they know how to make things, they know how to build things. They do not as much as rely on foreign investors to sustain or develop their economy.

          They have national dignity because they have endeavored to procure knowledge and used it to develop and modernize their economy.

          • Joe America says:

            What way forward do you suggest for the Philippines, striking foreign investment as unnecessary? The goal is to give the great masses of poor a better way to move up and out of their day-to-day living, and to have decent housing, health care and education. The quicker, the better.

            • Micha says:

              I’m skeptical if the China model will work for the Philippines. We may be able to match the guile of their labor cost (effectively, a slave labor) but foreign investors were mainly attracted to China because of the potential of their billion strong consumer market. And even if we grant that China is a success story in its effort to lure profit seeking corporate behemoths, there is much to be desired in the conditions of its working class.

              Since the Philippines is, essentially, in a state of permanent depression for several decades now, a quick fix, if there is one, could only come in the form of massive government intervention. The tools and the means are available to do exactly that. In case you’re wondering why we’re not doing it yet, you need only look at the current state of affairs and dysfunction in both houses of Congress.

              • Janice says:

                Vague argument.

                Yes, foreign investors were attracted to China because of its huge untapped consumers. Guess what, same with the Philippines. High birth rate, young population that has the potential to be savvy, most can at least speak basic English…but are relatively penniless. 100million people is a huge potential especially if you put it against the population of the US. We have 1/3 the population of the US(US consumer spending is HUGE). There is huge potential in tapping 100 million people. In addition to that, many developed countries are aging so companies are likely to look for more “youthful” countries and this is a boat we do not want to miss.

                And it couldn’t be merely China’s population. India has a population of 1 billion, too. The decision to make China a “business hub” was also partly to avoid military confrontation. Remember that during the time China was “opened”, it was the cold war. China has nukes. Should there be a confrontation, it’s gonna call for massive resources of the West. Take the safer route. Negotiate with China and hope that they will adapt to Western democracy In addition is the constant threat to Taiwan. Before the opening of the mainland, what was known as “China” back then was actually Taiwan. It was Taiwan who was part of the UNSC, not the mainland… A lot of it is political, actually. Especially if you think that the safer bet is actually India…almost the same population. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out as good as people hoped to. CCP still in power, Chinese maritime “expansion” and threatening Asian security, a UNSC that does not care about world conflicts….

                Unfortunately, it did not turn out that way. It’s good that many Chinese people are lifted out of poverty but the arrogance of the CCP isn’t really a welcome development.

                There is no quick fix to building a nation or an economy. The US did not just get out of the depression. They started somewhere and rolled the dice. South Korea did not just suddenly recover from the ashes of the war, they started somewhere and developed a strong work ethic. There is no such thing as “quick fix”. Any attempt at a “quick fix” solution will either make us end up like Cuba or North Korea.

                It takes collective effort. Not just “government effort”. That’s so Cuba-ish or North Korea-ish.

                I think the quick fix mentality is actually what is holding back the Philippines. Quick fix for the military (US, please sponsor us or we’ll protest in front of the US Embassy), quick fix for economy (foreign aid, foreign grants please!)…

              • Micha says:

                Hello Janice,

                The reference to “quick fix” is in response to Joe’s query on how to give relief to the suffering of the working class, “the quicker, the better”.

          • ricelander says:

            Nice thoughts. But hey you should tell that to our rent-seeking local oligarchs, they who control the resources of our nation, who invests only on safe investments that produce little employment or little value-added except through speculation, whose investments locally are probably smaller than their investments abroad…

            • Micha says:

              Totally agree.

              I wonder whatever happened to Raul Conception’s RFM or the Conception Industries.

              • ricelander says:

                That is the point: who is going to take up the slack in investment? Even in the region, we so pale in comparison. Are we going to compel and oblige the oligarchy, and how? Or should the government fill in the gap, but we have known governments to be bad managers all along?

                Nationalists cite trillions of pesos lying idle in the BSP reserves. But that is all money in a vault. Until someone comes up with a business idea, acquires the boldness and entrepreneurial spirit to take the leap, and the bank assesses you are credit-worthy, it is all money in the vault.

          • Janice says:

            They know how to make things because they did not restrict knowledge.

            Post war until the 80’s, the Japanese products were known a spoor cheap products(same with South Korea). If I am not mistaken, it was an American who was laughed at in the US who helped the Japanese improve the quality of their products.

            The nationalities you mentioned know how to make things because they did not restrict knowledge. What they did is improve on the quality of the products they were making. Korean companies are known for ship building but the South Koreans weren’t the first people to make ships.

            And guess what, Japan and South Korea use foreigners from native English speaking countries to teach them English. It is the same thing in the US. Those who teach Tagalog in major universities are native Tagalog speakers. Not Mormon missionaries who went to the Philippines. They also use native Spanish speakers to teach Spanish here.

            In Korea, they have Costco (a US wholesale company) where shoppers could buy products in bulk and it often is cheaper. Compare that to SM/Robinson Malls and Supermarkets that sell retail but are often overpriced.

            The irony of the Philippine politicians is that they claim that FOI is trampling on our sovereignty but at the same time they are the ones to allow a Chinese mining company to ILLEGALLY mine our black sands. They’re the ones who allow South Korean companies to ILLEGALLY literally ship Philippine soil to Korea.

            • Micha says:

              I have a feeling we may actually be, more or less, in agreement on this although I am hesitant to use the word “restrict” or “restricted” to modify our failure to see the significance of acquiring it.

  3. JM says:

    I agree that Education plays a huge part but culture/personality also has a role. Education can somehow change a part of it but it doesn’t work all the time. I’ve seen this with several of my classmates. They were average in class but they chose to work in a job that has no opportunity for growth.

    Another example of Culture/Personality. I have a security guard and a “boy” who cleans my place. They are hard working and honest. I have tried giving them small business opportunities for them and their families but they are so negative and afraid to grab the chance. The irony is that they believe that when they get old, they would somehow be better off financially. At this age, it is not enough for a person to work hard. I think what matters more is where you put all that effort.

    I agree with what you said on POEA, Nationalism and social values.

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks for the real-world examples, JM. I’ve also seen the reluctance of people to grab opportunities and make something of them. There is an essential passivity or shyness that is very deep and can’t be argued away. The entrepreneurial bent is very limited, like to sari sari stores. I blame the educational system for not teaching “aspiration”.

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