High on the Philippines

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As President Aquino’s term winds down, I reflect on how very different the Philippines is today than it was in 2010. In 2010, it was a conflicted place coming off another corrupt presidency. The few road construction projects you’d drive pass always had Gloria Arroyo’s face plastered on a big sign marking this gift to the people from the President. The nation was way down the rankings on anti-corruption work, competitiveness, and about every other measure. The National Government was spending little for infrastructure, was getting little investment from outside, and tourism was a dribble. OFWs were heading out in droves. Kickbacks and skimming were a way of life from the Legislature down to the mayors and governors. People were killing one another during elections for the right to control the gravy train.

Today, rankings are up, investment is building, infrastructure investment is huge, resulting in upgrading of airports and roads and trains and ports. The national highway has been expanded in many stretches from two lanes to four, significantly cutting travel time and improving safety. Prices for land and property are going up, not because of inflation but because urban properties are more valuable as it becomes a sellers market. People are making money hand over fist. Regular people. Egg farmers and hollowblock makers and grocery store owners and restaurateurs. Malls and first tier franchises and hotels are pushing out across the nation, reaching into larger provincial cities. Schools have 100,000 more classrooms.

No signs are attached to the many construction projects going on across the land.

The corrupt are running scared.

Yet, I think the notion for many abroad is that the nation is still stuck in 2010.

It isn’t. It has a whole new set of problems, most of them how to deal with robust growth when governmental agencies are staffed by people who historically have not been hired for skill at managing productive systems, or when laws and courts can’t keep pace with demand by resolving contract disputes quickly or making clear who owns what.

People in Manila complain about the travel time. You can try to explain that the BPO industry has exploded beyond anyone’s imagination, not enough investment in transport systems had been made, and it takes years to build an expressway or train track . . . but people don’t want to hear that. They want to point fingers. Lay blame. Always lay blame.

So what people overseas hear is the complaints. And deduce that it is the same o same o ineffectual Philippines.

When it is not.

It is a hard-working Philippines.

With some lingering problems.

Take the Senate. The Senate is not up to speed. The Senate is a blame machine, its investigative hearings representing a huge lead weight on progress and confidence. Being fundamentally misdirected, the Senate does not pass those very profound laws that would change the character of the nation. The Senate exhibits a Third World mindset as it lacks ethical fiber (fondly welcoming a plundering senator with warm handshakes and back-pats), refuses to pass laws that might impose burdens on the entitled (anti-dynasty), refuses to pass laws that would bring order to land use and zoning, refuses to pass a peace initiative for Mindanao, refuses to tear down bank secrecy laws that stand as a barrier to good law enforcement, and refuses to advance the Philippines to modern standards of human decency (divorce law).

Did I say that the Philippine Senate is a lead weight on progress?

As I see it, the Philippines needs to do only one thing to become a successful nation.

Stop laying blame and start accepting accountability.

The Senate (and bickering partner, the House) needs to limit its showboating investigations and accept accountability for its failure to perform. It needs to move the nation forward.

The Judiciary needs to accept accountability for its laughable timelines, politicized decisions and corruption. (Executive and the House share accountability for failing to fund a first class court system.)

Executive needs to accept accountability for failure to clean up Customs, failure to assure ample, steady electricity, and failure to assure ample user internet bandwidth and speeds. These are not matters that can be finger-pointed anywhere else. Those are the three big failings of Executive. Abaya is just passing through. He is not the issue. There are other problems, but there will always be problems in National Government that has so many demands and is burdened with agencies filled with people who got their jobs on some basis other than skill.

Executive has earned . . . but will never receive in this notoriously crabby nation . . . credit for doing so much while working against the complaints of the crooks, leftists, malcontents and others who seem to want failure for the Philippines, not uplift. The Administration kept its eye on the ball and worked. Executing a superb defense policy and alliance building. Handling crises well (Hong Kong, Zamboanga, Sultan, Taiwanese fisherman), and one not so well. Getting storm readiness and recovery upgraded. Improving policing. Running internationally acclaimed social programs (CCT). Investing in classrooms and K-12 to raise the competitive standing of the nation’s educational output to international norms. Stabilizing the financial foundation of the nation and producing sound, steady growth. The dominant part of Executive is earnest, honest and productive.

Three prominent churches need to accept accountability for being more trouble than they are worth on way too many days:

Iglesia ni Cristo for operating like a mob organization disrespectful of democratic norms and government’s job to enforce the law,

The Muslim leadership for not holding their own people responsible for deadly violence, but instead using the threat of additional violence to extort benefits from the National Government. How about going proactive? How about crafting a plan for economic development and gain National’s backing? Stop complaining and start solving. Leadership can be claimed. You don’t really need no stinkin’ BBL if you just identify the problems and solve them. National is more than receptive.

The Catholic Church for fighting advances in human rights knowledge and sensitivity, engaging in corrupt and abusive practices, and failing to instill a sense of moral accountability in its flock. Noted members attend services on Sunday, arrive in the office on Monday to steal taxpayer money, then line up at some event to kiss the Pope’s ring as if nothing were wrong. The bishops preen pompously and righteously and relentlessly fail to see the sorry results of their moral leadership.

These are the institutions that are holding the Philippines back. These are the institutions that are way too busy pointing outward with blames rather than look inward for solutions.

The oligarchs aren’t on the list. They are a huge PLUS for the nation. They provide the investments that make the nation grow. They operate the engines of wealth generation. They generate profit for shareholders who risk their money in the corporation. And they operate on a playing field under a rulebook produced by the National Government.

The Legislature and Judiciary establish the rules of impunity that favor the fat cats.

The culprits of entitlement are the rulemakers, not the oligarchs.

Philippine media are also in business to make a profit. They only provide what people want to watch or read. They can’t afford to pay professional reporters of the old style. Theirs is a quick-moving business with barely enough time to breathe. I’d argue that government leaders and agency heads need to do a better job of managing their press relations by providing information that helps the media succeed.

The media are neither the nation’s moral guardians represented as the fourth estate nor are they the irresponsible tabloids portrayed often by JoeAm. They are functionaries making money by giving people what they want.

The culprits of tabloid sensationalism are the viewers and readers who demand gore, gossip, titillation and conflict while shunning information.

Social media are thriving. It’s a bit of wild west, a swarm of faceless aliens infesting every activity on the planet, real time. It is a huge living organism, a lot like the biggest organism on earth, the Honey Fungus living beneath the ground in the Blue Mountains of Northern Oregon. It has no shape and cannot be seen, but it is profound.

We, the hypocrites

What have we done here? We have blamed and pointed fingers.

As do all who blame, we can claim it is constructive criticism.

Well, we can do that if we balance out the complaint with credit granted where earned. Or provide some takeaways, some lessons.

So it is only fitting to circle back around to where we started this writing. To acknowledge that the Philippines in 2016 is very different than the Philippines was in 2010. We owe a debt of gratitude to the thousands of workers who put in their days on the job working hard and productively and are never recognized for their contributions. The judges who work their dockets honestly, forthrightly and fairly. The legislators who do good works (thanks especially to Senator Aquino for his achievements in 2015). The police who protect us, the Pope, the APEC delegates, and the INC rabblerousers as they protest the government. The troops who slog through the dangerous jungles or sit on rusty boats to keep us safe. The agency workers who warn us of storms and plug our electricity back in afterward, who build homes for those who can’t afford to build them, who engineer and build our roads and airports and docks and classrooms.

Thanks for building a nation!

Hey, I look about and I get high on the Philippines.

Gorgeous place, beautiful people, with just the right mix of passion, productivity and happy indolence. Food fun and frustration. Wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s rich, like life itself . . .

This place is on the move!

Think I’ll stick around for the rest of my lifetime  . . .


216 Responses to “High on the Philippines”
  1. MSSyj says:

    Do stick around for the rest of your lifetime, Joeam and hope many others get the high you get on this beloved country of ours.

    • Joe America says:

      I think too many have had their heads down for too long, and just need to look up and look around. For the poor, it might take a few years, but they’ll get there soon when they recognize that there are real jobs out there. They just need to get their kids ready for them.

      • Sal4040T@yahoo.com says:

        Nice to know you’re still alive Jo. I do think, from your comments , you have been liviing there too long, though , Jo. Truth is official unemployment is at 6 % – real unemployment is at 60% – Still TOO much poverty and TOO many people go to bed at night WITHOUT a meal. ON ANY internationally recognised tracking site for international data DAVAO is not ion the top ten thousand safest cities in the world. Most Philippine people are happy to get a job that will pay them 250 pesos a day. Most only REALLY earn 500 a week. The Philippines GDP is massaged , the recent upgrade of public works , particularly in Manila, i s because of the donations of foreign governments and especially the HUNDREDS of millions of dollars provided in aid to rebuild Tacloban. This money…100 Mil from the USA 100 Mil for Australia 150 MIl from Britain..MOST has been diverted into building sky ways projects in Manila. This wont do any thing ro the general distribution and alleviation of traffic problems. Now the Philippines has a new president whose only solution seems to be to “KILL KILL KILL!!” The only REAL way forward for this god forsaken screwed up corrupt and anti democartic country is to actully say..”LET\S BE DEMOCRATIC TO THE BEST OF ANY COUNTRY – EMBRACE LAW – MAKE NO ONE ABOVE IT – and make GOOD laws for every one. Jo you have been living there way TOO long – the Philippines is MORE fucked up now than EVER!

  2. “Investing in classrooms and K-12 to raise the competitive standing of the nation’s educational output to international norms.” I have had a look at K-12, and an article on it is still outstanding.

    But what I can say now – the Philippines would be a foolish nation to scrap K-12 because of some issues when it comes to teacher manpower (or womanpower mostly, Cha would surely say 🙂 ) and classrooms. It is benchmark international standard, superior to the German educational system in the West and closer to the East German school system which was the best in the Warsaw pact and the blueprint for the No. 1 in the world, the Finnish school system. The first millenials to have passed through some of K-12 (I have some on my Facebook Learning Center Page) are a far cry from the “engots” (my former nanny’s favorite word for those who do not use their coconut) of before, they are curious, alert and confident – nothing like GRPs pet peeves.

    • Joe America says:

      There is a kind of “perfection” madness here that, if an action has the slightest flaw, it must be stopped. That is why the nation is so sluggish. It’s why the BBL failed and the NLUA was derailed. Well, that plus vested interests. It would be good if a president, in a SONA or elsewhere, did a Kennedy moment to ask people what THEY do for their nation. Because letting go of one’s personal ego, or civic sacrifice, is one of the more important ones. It can’t be a nation with 100 million dictators. Some folks have to sacrifice their wishes.

      • Joe America says:

        I’m reminded of the bitterness of GRP and others who backed losing candidates in 2010. They’ve ridden that bitterness for 6 years now, grousing, name-calling, and undermining the national good will. Everyone wants to be dictator. No one wants to delegate, or let go of authority of the mind.

    • James de Valera says:

      I saw some of the classroom in the rural areas for the K-12, there are washing machine, vacuum cleaner, fork & spoon, table cloth ( they said for table setting) etc., electric fan, fire extinguisher. The classroom & the equipment were bought through solicitation from the resort owner & guests – no funding at all from the government. I don’t know what is the set- up of the K-12 in the urban areas but I can promise you that the set-up in the rural & island baranggay throughout the nation is like this.
      What they will learn from that, those things you will learn on the first day in any job you’re in. I thought the k-12 will teach about basic computer knowledge like how to open a blog, basic web- site layout etc., the globalised world that we’re in today.
      I agree with the extension of the school year but we have to be smart with our time investment, Sometimes what is lacking in the Philippines progress is the lack of citizenry, damaged culture. Our education should not only emphasise how to manufacture but also it has to do something with the inside, minds & soul, to become a good citizen of the nation.
      What about a “Community Service” ? Some countries do that like Israel.
      We have to start teaching young kids to be tough, live smartly- you could be very talented but not smart how you live your life in the end it’s a waste of life,that what is lacking in the Philippines.

      • Well, then the implementation on a good idea must be improved… not the whole K-12 junked like some idiots want to do and go back to the old rote system.

        And where the government does not help, people are starting to help themselves – http://www.efrennolasco.com/ is chock-full of practical tips not only on how to deal with the government but also on how to deal with one’s computer, how to open a webpage, a blog… it is the Filipino equivalent of Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanach” by a Bikolano, I am proud to say, even an Albayano from Legazpi, a former OFW. 🙂

        • I think the senior high is going to be in a very technical way but not technically enough in the world standard so in that sense I can smell failure, you know what is doing great is TESDA I knew a lot of young kids that got a job in Manufacturing. Let
          But I mean if you look at today in the real world people in the company get promoted in the job because of their ability to be trusted, to work along with their fellow workers, their positivity that influence others, being honest etc, these are the qualities that have to do with the inside not technical. Let the young boys & girls to experience the harsh of the real world, the teaching should be more engaging rather theory from the books which turn to be boring.
          The DepEd should gather Filipinos that are living long time abroad to share what is best for education curriculum base on their experience, perhaps someone like you is a good example.

          • Let TESDA to deal with technical education they are doing great on that, but some other programs have to be shared out not only focusing in one aspect.

          • http://filipinogerman.blogsport.eu/philippine-natural-resources/ – not really, I have mentioned German-supported K-12+ which is part of K-12 TVET and TESDA and is partnering with German companies in both Tondo (Grohe, I mentioned in a comment) and the San Pedro Relocation Center National High School – http://www.k-12plus.org/ – of course so that they can have qualified people for German companies which are setting up shop by the month in the Philippines just like Stihl which I have mentioned as well.
            The nice thing about Dual Training (German model which TESDA has been adopting for years) is that theory and practice are linked and combined, and that young people who finish it usually get a job in the company where they learned if they prove themselves.

            True we could all contribute, Romeo Encarnacion whom I mentioned in my article also has an entire blog, he is a business consultant living in Connecticut who has done business in Eastern Europe. We are all still a bit afraid of the country that made Ibarra give up and Simoun kill himself, which Mr. Encarnacion called “parochial” and I have called “insular” – but if change keeps going and impunity / “crab on steroids” (Joe’s term) is vanquished many of us might reconsider, at least go to help for a stint even if we don’t earn so much. The issue has often been entrenched forces that say “sino ka ba para magmarunong” – who are you to know better than us? And even tanim-bala like schemes against them – once I nearly got victimized and vowed to never return, just like the Beatles in the 60s.

      • Joe America says:

        Agree, and I think the curriculum for the program points in that direction. The shortcoming, I think, is skilled teachers to teach the more intellectually aggressive courses. They might be able to offer them in Manila, but get outside the major cities, and I doubt they will get taught. They are generally in “optional” category for students, but there is not option if there is not teacher. It will take a few years to get those wrinkles ironed out.

    • Madlanglupa says:

      > the Philippines would be a foolish nation to scrap K-12 because of some issues when it comes to teacher manpower

      There are still people — even parents of a science high school, which examples are often seen as the most elite in the public school system — who want it scrapped for a variety of reasons, but it’s undeniable that we still in dire need of improvements in other aspects of education asides from adding two years of school. Building more classrooms is just for starters.

      • It is not just adding two years… it is a complete revamp of the entire way of teaching I am checking out the curriculum it is light years ahead even of Philippine Science – I am a Pisay Graduate, Batch 1982, Secretary Abaya was Batch 1983 Jessica Zafra is 82 as well. Scrapping something good is nonsense because some stuff is lacking. If there are not yet enough classrooms inspite of the many being built then build more for God’s sake. Well I thought I was elite but when I came to Germany I was a small fish in a big K-13 pond…

        • sonny says:

          Irineo, I lean more to our K-12 young ‘uns learning first the history of the computer up to and including the dawn of the Internet. This way, they can “green” the computer and avoid the “Daedalus & Icarus” effect.

      • Joe America says:

        Some 100,000 classrooms have been built the past few years. I think the biggest need is salaries and quality and training of teachers. Also, better use of technology, starting with high schools. (Tablets instead of textbooks)

        • Madlanglupa says:

          Which explains why DepEd now has the biggest allocation in this year’s national budget. They’ll have to spend this largess wisely.

        • Madlanglupa says:

          …and of course, yes, tablets with pre-loaded e-books. I find it nightmarish in that every schoolkid I’ve seen has a massive schoolbag with a lot of books asides from their basic needs, which would weigh around 30 kgs, a far cry from some several decades ago, all they carried was a couple of books and a cloth bag with their lunch tin.

  3. karlgarcia says:

    Hope proposals to suspend K12,will never move.I support Senator Trillanes in many of his initiatives,but not Suspension of K12.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, it is hard to figure, why he went to that side. Lost the big picture.

      • His side and his picture has always been – everything for state employees starting with soldiers of course… so his picture on K-12 is more about teachers complaining about it.

        K-12 is a major change to the mindset – it does not have the highly fixed lesson plans of old, it has two-week blocks where the concentration is on developing certain capabilities. Far from the rote learning of before, I can imagine old-school teachers are overwhelmed.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Could be,but are they still complaining?Some universities and Colleges like AMA and STI take in Senior high school.The government is asking the help of the private schools.

  4. karlgarcia says:

    I think direct democracy in the future will really roid up nation building.

  5. “Three prominent churches”… in Germany the Catholic and Protestant Churches (Lutheran, Reformed etc. are in it together because both Catholic and Protestant confessions receive their share of the Church tax which state tax offices collect for them, as per the old “concordate” which is the church name for a treaty) as well as the Central Councils of both Jews and Muslims are part of the decision-making process and all four religions do have some influence on the Christian Democrats who represent the conservative mindset… former Bavarian Interior Minister Beckstein I have heard has his friends among conservative Turkish Muslims in Bavaria, so he is far from being the wingnut that some leftists over here make him out to be. Philippines still needs some practice in reconciling different principles and forming a national consensus… it was NOT that easy in Germany either. Up to 1958 a German woman who married a foreigner lost her citizenship, for many years after 1945 a woman had to have written consent of her husband in order to work. Homosexuality was a crime until the late 1960s, recently Guido Westerwelle of the Free Democratic (Liberal) party who is openly gay became foreign minister.. Christian Democrats still have no gay subgroup like the other parties, but there are unofficial working groups. Divorce was not a problem over here because the Protestants always had it and it is unconstitutional to have different laws for different religions – imagine special laws just for Jews that once existed – but the abortion law with very clear rules as to when that is exceptionally allowed was extremely controversial and most Christian Democrats accept it even if they don’t like it, morally speaking.

    From what I have heard both Dutch and Belgians have an important role for different Churches (as well as ethnic groups in Belgium) in their state. So there are ways to give their principles a voice without making the state a theocracy, or totally going laicistic like the French have done.

    “Acknowledge that the Philippines in 2016 is very different than the Philippines was in 2010.” Yes. Top Gear Philippines is critical. But I look at the pictures and see highly modern roads. Even a recent video showing stone-throwing kids shows highly modern, REALLY world-class roads that are VERY new, and high-rises that look very fresh. Of course there are difficulties to adjust to that modernity, especially for those whose minds are not yet ready for it. Whether stone-throwing slum kids or stone-throwing Senators, journalists, even some of us bloggers. Time to get high I think.

    • Joe America says:

      There is a Muslim advisory role given a cabinet level position here. Maybe that should be broadened to be a “Congregation of the Faiths”, in a direct advisory capacity to the President, but unified rather than divided. The Senate and House could have a faith caucus group.

  6. karlgarcia says:

    religion is the opiate of the masses.What is the opiate of the Philippines? Let’s all have a joint or whatever is the means to get high on the Philippines.

    • Joe America says:

      I read last week about a huge marijuana plantation being up-rooted, somewhere in Luzon, I think. I was angry because I’m sure it was a part of the reforestation effort, to fight global warming.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Those green peace guys,should peace-up and be high on the Philippines.Sen Loren Legarda should be high on the Philippines.

    • There is no way back for you now… you have worked in Customs and now you are advocating drugs… you have to really make sure Duterte will not become President. ;-(

      • karlgarcia says:

        Told you just worked for a port operator.Seriously,If Duterte wins if we are all high on the Philippines,we have 3 to six months to detox.

        • karlgarcia says:

          That port operator is now being run by Dubai Ports,refer to comment of James below.i don’t know if the sheik is still high or not,maybe he can no longer get things done in a snap.

          • When the Philippines became a Commonwealth in 1935, the Governor was replaced by a High Commissioner. I wonder how often that American was high on the country.

          • The sheikh doesn’t really that much thinking of the small things but he thinks of the bigger picture, the vision, what is Dubai in 100 years from now., things on that nature. He had some people in the lower grounds that take care of the small things he only interrupt when things go wrong.
            The BBC had interview on him one day in his palace & the plane passing by keep interrupting the audio, he called the airport to divert the route of the plane.

            • Polish President Kacynskis plane crashed allegedly because the President forced him to land. Another pilot had been fired before for circling the plane for safety reasons. Sometimes dictators who ignore or intimidate experts can be very dangerous.

        • Joe America says:

          Might give up blogging and start a plantation myself. Get some of Juana’s farming expertise.

  7. President Aquino could have done more if it is not because of the government bureaucracy, but sometimes in the corrupt country like Philippines system of tough questioning needed to safeguard the funds.It take nearly the President’s term before a big project could start.
    I remember the Sheikh of Dubai in one interview said it only take a click of his finger & his vision start rolling.

  8. http://www.philippinen.cc/2016/02/manila-airportbus-fahrt-jetzt-die-stadt/ – new airport bus is now going from NAIA into town – no need for the old bandit taxis anymore! And it is a German expat news channel that is bringing this news straight from Cagayan de Oro, imagine that. High also?

  9. Thea says:

    We, Filipinos know our rights but not so much of our responsibilities. We want to play a role in our community (for it seems, we love to talk and talk with sense or just complain?) but we don’t know the rules which we often mistake with restrictions. After EDSA, we gained the most important of all rights, and that is the Human Rights. Those who lament about EDSA does not understand the meaning of it and will remain ignorant of what is being free. And what is material richness after all if one is not free?
    I admire you,Joe , you see what is good and bright in my beautiful country. No matter what, even without marijuana, we seem to enjoy and high on the Philippines.

    • Joe America says:

      Haha, Thea, I see you are reading the comments as well as the blog. Good for you. It is usually a more serious place, but the regulars do have a bit of sense of humor. Thanks for stopping by for a comment. It is important to take that step beyond just observing and complaining and looking for the full part of the glass. It is actually way more than half full here.

  10. Micha says:

    Hmmmn, you shelved the “Top 5 Mob Families” in favor of this one which is singing pink hosannas for the oligarchs instead.

    Mob families. Oligarchs. Plutocrats. Rent-seeking opportunists.

    What’s the difference? And what gives?

    • Micha, damn it, try to see some of the good things that are happening.

      True the oligarchs are still there, but I guess the pressure is high so they have to “change so that everything can stay the same”. A quotation from The Leopard, a Sicilian novel.

      • Micha says:

        Fuck off Irineo. Why do you have this habit of responding to a comment that is not addressed to you? Do you think you are the center of the universe or something?

    • Joe America says:

      The mob family is organized to conduct crime as the main line of business. The rent-seekers just take what is given them, usually within the laws (that they play a huge role in shaping). They run honest businesses, in the main.

      I scrapped the mob blog because it was too political and because I don’t want to be shot. You got a problem with that? 🙂

      • Micha is a bit naive I think… she (I think) does not know what I told you long ago… that Binay approached my brother in Berlin together with Tatad and they were WAY too friendly – the regulars in this blog know that from Facebook I told them too. Now we are all not in the Philippines so it is unlikely that they will manage to touch us over here, my father is old and nobody touches old men especially not the well-known ones in the Philippines, but if they are that powerful and brash even abroad how much more in the land of impunity?

        There are also some rent-seekers over here, even if the EU bidding rules make that less likely… there is no ideal world Communism makes rent-seeking even worse than capitalism.

        There are always greedy people, and power-hungry ones… one can only channel that.

      • Micha says:


        So who are these productive oligarchs that are a “huge PLUS” for the country?

      • Bill in Oz says:

        I saw the change as well in the line up and wondered about the reasons..I think they are valid and good ones..Your distinction between crime families and ‘law making’ is also important.

    • Madlanglupa says:

      There are two kinds of oligarchs: those who make a buck or two or a bundle for the sake of money without qualms nor humanity (even if it means razing a block of squatters’ shanties for a condo block, or operate a bus company driven by ill-trained drivers, or operate an astroturfing and web spam outfit disguised as a call center)… and those who make a buck but responsibly and smartly give it back to society and reconstruction (i.e. the Ayalas).

      The oligarchs have a place in this world, whether we like them or not: they have the brains, the resources, the connections, the decision-making powers, the king-makers, the ones who could provide jobs for the less-than-fortunate, and they must be courted carefully for their support; they’ll not support anyone with a Robin Hood or Hugo Chavez mindset and that’ll mean capital flight.

      • Micha says:

        An oligarchy is incompatible with the idea of democracy.

        • Bill in Oz says:

          There is room for rich, middle & poor in functioning democracies Micha. There have been plenty of countries that tried to destroy their richer & better trained people in the interests of achieving a so called democracy..They called themselves ” dictatorships of the proletariat ” and were not democracies at all.

          None of the countries that have escaped from such ‘proletarian dictatorships’ want to go back there…

          • Micha says:

            You don’t have a functioning democracy if much of the power and wealth is concentrated in the hands of oligarchs.

            Most western European countries have achieved sufficient degrees of democratizing wealth and political power so your cue to communist dictatorship is false.

            • Oligarchs in the Philippines are like the cronies of Marcos that used the Government money to buy shares in some companies (took over San Miguel, PAL etc.,)& we all know who they are, that is bad oligarchy, what about the richest man in the Philippines that started selling shoes in Carriedo is he bad oligarchs? He strived for success because in a free society there should be no barrier to succeed if you work hard, we need more successful businessmen in the Philippines to provide investment & to compete with the existing companies.
              We need to strengthen our middle class though so the gap between the rich & poor become narrow, more work that will provide decent salary.

              • http://filipinogerman.blogsport.eu/leadership-as-service/ I wonder how Lee Kuan Yew would have fared in the Philippine setting. His leadership was quiet and competent, not loud. He might just have decided to build malls and avoided politics.

              • Micha says:

                @James Valera

                There is absolutely nothing wrong with individuals striking it big through fair and honest means. That qualifier though – being fair and being honest – can hardly be gleaned from the machinations of the super rich. It’s most likely that some form of deceit and unfairness had been employed in the acquisition of their wealth.

                Has it not been reported, for example, that Henry Sy’s SM used to fire and re-hire workers after 3 months so they don’t qualify for employment benefits and higher wages? Do SM employees get to share part of the profits that they, through their labor, help create?

                Henry Sy also owns a bank. And as William Black asserts, the best way to rob a bank is to own one.

                “Behind every great fortune lies a great crime”. – Honore de Balzac

              • Joe America says:

                The point in the article is that big businesses operate on a playing field defined by legislators. The practices you cite may be morally reprehensible, but if they are not illegal, then the businesses are not actually dishonest. They are just taking what the legislature gives them. People for sure ought to protest both, the reprehensible practices, and the poorly written laws. The laws are the formal lines though. Everything else – like morals- is arguable.

              • Micha says:


                The point of your article is only valid on the assumption that our legislators operate independently, free from the influence and lobbying of big business, that they are not merely tools and shills working for and in behalf of big business. or that some of the legislators are not owners of big businesses themselves (Enrile, for one) and are directly plucked out from the ranks of the oligarchy.

              • Joe America says:

                Well, I think validity is found in the way things actually work. To change that, one has to identify the primary lever that can be pulled, and I’m arguing that is best done by establishing a counter-force that gets legislators to pass important laws that confine businesses to good social deeds. It is not in businesspeoples’ make-up to do it themselves. They are chartered to make money, and they do it well. The legislature is chartered to take care of the social good. Furthermore, I’d argue that one does not change things by pounding the keyboard calling people, or institutions, names. One actually has to DO something.

              • Micha says:

                I have this funny feeling that you sit on the board or at least an investor of some big corporation. High on the Philippines huh?

                Say it ain’t so Manong Joe. 🙂

              • Joe America says:

                There is a greater probability that you belong to some communist organization that periodically heads down to the American Embassy, or blows up electricity poles in Mindanao, to make a point that capitalism is evil and automatically equates to imperialism and all sorts of nasty names left over from the ’50s. They’ve done nothing but destruction since WWII. Built nothing. Created no wealth. Contributed nothing to a fruitful dialogue except when Waldon Bello is speaking.

                I worked for a corporation so I understand the drives there. They are not inherently evil as you portray.

              • Joe America says:

                I do own shares of Ford, GE, CISCO, and a few other American and European corporations. Sadly, not Berkshire Hathaway.

              • Micha says:

                Hahahaha. Your guessing quotient is below par today Manong Joe. Why would I march with the reds down Dewey Blvd when I am now here in the bosom of ‘merika, a qualified ‘merican citizen gleefully observing a resurgence of Trumpism created and brought to you by free market worshipping trump-eters?

                Of course the corporatists are not inherently evil. They just want their baby to make lots of money, because money is the cutest thing in the world. Who would ever want to call it evil?

          • http://filipinogerman.blogsport.eu/sounding-the-trumpets/ – my take on this entire discussion is in the article. Progress is there and should be pushed but more is needed. Just sounding a few trumpets, what people make out of it is their own thinking and acting.

  11. Back to the good news… now this is not about praising any oligarchs, just the normal folks:

    http://www.efrennolasco.com/business-registration-with-the-bir/ – now why does an “ordinary” person, a former OFW at that, give tips to people on how to set up businesses? He even has his full name and address on the blog (Legazpi City) but sticks to day-to-day stuff, stays out of the political stuff. Guess the opportunities and the possibilities are indeed growing for simple folks, they are slowly getting bolder especially in the province of Salceda fear has been vanquished.

    http://globalnation.inquirer.net/42293/3-ph-universities-among-world%E2%80%99s-best-english-teaching-schools#ixzz41MpA3v4u – they may not be on top in education in general, but these three schools do teach top English… Ateneo on top damn I still hate them for their accent. *grrrr

  12. This is Pinoy Travel Freak… the Facebook post I am showing is from Banaue…

    now in my time only rich people and foreigners usually travelled the Philippines…

  13. http://www.philstar.com/business/2016/02/08/1551006/german-firm-opens-50-m-plant-batangas

    This just happened this year, and many more German and Japanese companies are coming… probably the oligarchs have their share in this as well, but it is win-win for those who get jobs… and those who get more jobs and more education may be the ones to strengthen democracy next.

    • http://www.interaksyon.com/article/124349/5-reasons-why-proposed-up-curriculum-change-is-actually-non-competitive – OK there is some criticism but this is more about CHED:

      CHEd argues that the K-12 program, supported by the technical-vocational courses provided by TESDA, takes after the German model, which allows for a period of apprenticeship and training to better align graduates with industry needs. But while ensuring jobs for graduates in the private sector is important, so too is the need to fill our public schools with better teachers, our public hospitals with better doctors and nurses, and our public institutions with better politicians and civil servants.

      In Germany and Scandinavia such a model, while far from perfect, is built strongly upon a strong public sector and a corporatist ethos based on equal recognition and creative tension between representatives of industry, government, the academe, and labor (trade unions), which then collectively decide upon the direction taken by the education system, and national economic planning more broadly.

      This bears no comparison to our own rent-seeking elite and crony capitalist-captured institutions, where the captains of industry appear regularly in bed with our political leaders alike under the guise of privatization or public private partnerships. Unless better structures and regulations are in place to check the predations of moneyed interests, the “German model”, or CHEd’s version of it, is unlikely to be replicated here. The separation between corporation and state here is slim at best.

      But sometimes I think that the Philippine intellectual elite is often also composed of rent-seekers who want to remain the one-eyed men who are kings in the land of the blind. What has UP done to improve the education of ordinary workers? And German firms will utilize the smarter workers and even take them in as migrants if the entitled refuse to give them a chance I am sure. Afraid you can’t talk down to the less educated anymore, to those among the “intellectuals” who are actually hardly better than Padre Damaso, except that their cathechism is what is taught in Western universities, which they don’t get themselves and utter like Latin to intimidate ignorant peasants? There are enough entrenched interests that progress goes against. Some UP people are also crooks…

      • http://press.grohe.com/m/25_8630/page/modules/press/iframe.php?item=1661&id_cat=77

        Since 2009, water fittings manufacturer GROHE has cooperated with Don Bosco Mondo e.V. with a view to helping young people better their lives. To date some 780 young people in Mumbai, India, have been given the opportunity to start a new life as a result of this collaboration. The successful GROHE Dual Tech aid project has now also been launched in Manila-Tondo in the Philippines, where a new training facility was opened on 24 October. 2015. So the poor are getting jobs right NOW, this is reality.

        I remember how many educated Filipinos disliked how confident the working-class Filipinos became with the job security and everything they had there. Feudalism is not just reserved to oligarchs, there are professorial dynasties in UP with Junjun types as well.

  14. I’m in high on the Philippines when I think about our past, what nation on earth can produce a man like Jose Rizal at the young age he was a teacher, philanthropist, scientist, linguist, poet. Gregorio del Pilar is the equivalent of Leonidas & the 300’s who undoubtedly give their life to protect the President, Apolinario Mabini in despite of being handicapped was revolutionary leader, lawyer, statesman, educator. Juan Luna & Fernando Amorsolo’s quality were on the level of the likes of Leonardo da Vinci.
    This are some characteristics that we are lacking today, the Philippines today is not what our founders vision, they will be very disappointed to see us in such a big mess.
    As much as Science I will be put more priority in Education that tackle our inside, our guts, our broken culture, emphasise in our cultural awareness of who we are. Ironically Imelda was right on this one to showcase our Filipino tradition & be proud of it, she built the cultural centres etc.,
    A scientist did not become great if he didn’t inspire to think big, to know what is his weakness as human being, the science of Humanist is equally important as anything else.

    • There are several places where I quote Rizal: http://filipinogerman.blogsport.eu/revolution-in-mind/what if the slaves of today become the tyrants of tomorrow?
      http://filipinogerman.blogsport.eu/philippine-natural-resources/When the ethical abasement of the inhabitants had reached this stage, when they had become disheartened and disgusted with themselves, an effort was made to add the final stroke for reducing so many dormant wills and intellects to nothingness, in order to make of the individual a sort of toiler, a brute, a beast of burden, and to develop a race without mind or heart. Then the end sought was revealed, it was taken for granted, the race was insulted, an effort was made to deny it every virtue, every human characteristic, and there were even writers and priests who pushed the movement still further by trying to deny to the natives of the country not only capacity for virtue but also even the tendency to vice.

      He even translated the Swiss oath of freedom into Tagalog but I can find only this: We want to be a single People of brethren, Never to part in danger nor distress. We want to be free, as our fathers were, And rather die than live in slavery. We want to trust in the one highest God, And never be afraid of human power. – now what was Imelda except a modern version of Dona Victorina from the Noli? Still much to be done.

      • Isabel Reyes says:

        I like you Mr. Salazar. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, experience, views and insights and most of all tons of common sense with us, JoeAm’s followers.
        We may not be active talkers here on the blog but so you know, we are reading you. Me, it takes me days and days to finish reading one article and down to the last comment. I have a disease. Once I start I finish. Except for one, that stupid article titled “5 Reasons Why Roxas…” I stopped right at no. 3. Ask JoeAm, he knows the story.

        You are too deep at times, I need to google some words statements and phrases lol Also, it’s exhausting. I was usually asleep halfway through one paragraph. But there were times that a promise of new information compels me to look it up ergo! there goes my sleep. Anyway, please keep the comments coming. I’m sleepy…

        • sonny says:

          I know the feeling, ms Isabel. Irineo reminds me many times of Severino Reyes, a.k.a. Lola Basyang. “Naku, nandyan ang Lola. Kaya Efren, huwag ka nang malikot …” 🙂

  15. edgar lores says:

    1. Sorry to break the high.

    2. I had a dream last night, and the gist was:

    A relative: “Have you heard the news? The Vice President won.”

    3. Now I am no Nostradamus, and a disaster as a Cassandra in picking the winner for the Melbourne Cup, but I have had prophetic dreams. Or perhaps it was more intuition than prophesy, but the fact is G&C — that’s Graft and Corruption — runs in the Filipino blood. G&C may well be embedded in the DNA.

    4. Consider:

    o Binay is leading the presidential race.
    o Bongbong is co-leading the vice presidential race.
    o The Supreme Court restored Enrile to the Senate.
    o Josephivo’s neighbor is voting for Binay.
    o PNoy’s lesson is already forgotten before he steps down.

    5. Ten weeks to go before we know. If Binay or Duterte wins, I’m giving up on the Philippines. I’ll stop commenting and go into retreat. I’ll come back a 100 years from now and see if things have improved.

    6. Again, sorry for breaking the festive mood.

    • Joe America says:

      Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog. There is a reality here that coexists with the productive and honest work done by THIS government. The Philippines is a reactionary society, in the main, with criticism and irrational dreams rising to the top, and execution never quite following suit. A reactionary society would respond to one that is honest by putting in one that is not, pursuing the irrational dream that discipline will cure all. The missing element, of course, is a deeply embedded sense of personal accountability that would impel one to get educated about things, and work diligently toward that dream. Rather, the dream is supposed to be a gift from the leadership.

      The premise of this blog is that there is a tipping point at which social media and a broader awareness of what is really going on will end the reactionary dreaming, and we will reach it during the May election. If not, I’ll mark a big red X through the article.

      • mercedes santos says:

        Isn’t it just ? There is no accountability for one’s action among Pinoys’ politicos. In Japan erring government servants resign, but not in Pinas !!! They just keep rolling on and on and no one seems to care !!! Are the Ilocanos too blind to see what’s going on around them ???’/

        • Joe America says:

          Accountability has attached with it the occasional need to admit mistakes, requiring automatic ridicule and disdain. So no one does it. It is fundamentally a compassionless society, except at a family or personal level. I think – when I am not on a high – I shall characterize it as a nation of 100 million dictators who insist on doing it their own way and no other way. That’s what we see in the campaign. Rigid positions drawn on the flimsiest of reasons, and no give to them at all. Information is largely shunned, as water off a turtle’s very hard shell.

        • Madlanglupa says:

          > In Japan erring government servants resign

          There’s a huge difference between a culture who have taken the word humility to a fine art for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and a culture where humility is becoming an oxymoron.

      • josephivo says:

        There is dreaming and dreaming. The type of dreams Joe is describing, the positive expectation of a brighter future, the visualization of a destination, or a direction. But there are also daydreams, the hypothetical what if dream, just imagine for a moment that… (And there is the real dreams as the one Edgar experienced)

        One can miss the money to consume (the ultimate experience of happiness as taught by every TV show, every commercial, every Sari-Sari) but everyone can dream, just close your eyes for a moment and feel the ultimate bless of having… whatever.

        Class A/B can afford the directional dream and they can consume, so less need for unrealistic daydreams. But for class D/E the situation is very different, daydreaming is one of the cheapest ways to experience happiness for a short moment.

        So the real question is what politician can prime best the nicest daydreams. Elections are close family of TV shows or Telenovelas, they have a similar function, to fuel dreams. Just imagine a free cake, or all schooling cost covered, just imagine the medical care for lolo was free, that we could afford his needed operation. But what to dream by improved international ratings, the senate doing its job or faster justice?

    • I don’t want to pile on the negativity just sharing.
      I’ve had multiple interviews the past week mostly for jobs overseas.
      If the Binay or the Berdugo or the Bobong Bobo wins its bye bye Philippines for me.

    • NHerrera says:

      Put together:

      – the high expressed in the blog by Joe for good reason
      – the low expressed by edgar and giancarloangulo, again for good reasons
      – the big Philippine challenges even under a good President
      – the probable “negative” result of the May 2016 election

      … and this gives one — setting aside any non-legal way of doing things — to truly bend his knees to the floor and pray to whoever one prays to — to please please give us one more chance to continue to change directions of the Philippine ship to avert the deluge.

      • There is a reason why I have made my blog the way it is:

        1) the historical part is to be able to locate where the ship has been and is headed.

        2) the cultural/social aspects are about it’s engineering strengths and weaknesses.

        3) I hope that more Filipinos pick up on that short outline and make more out of it.

        Two metaphors additionally come to mind: the BRP Sierra Madre and Edgar’s jellyfish.

        What the present administration has failed it is in getting into the Filipino mind, which is indeed often protected by something like a tortoise shell like Joe mentioned. I say it is a self-protection mechanism islanders usually have because islanders always get invaded.

    • caliphman says:

      Sometimes a dose of paranoia and cynicism is just what is needed to burst the blind hubris and revelry of those seemingly oblivious to an impending political cyclone. Its been like eons now that I have cautioned against the threat of a Binay presidency even before a passable candidate like Poe or an even more sinister Duterte appeared on the scene. I myself would rather much prefer to be a Paul Revere than a Cassandra but it is getting rather late in the day and many are still slumbering and fast asleep.

  16. Gemino H. Abad says:

    THANKS, Joe America! The coming national election will be our acid test. I am hoping for a miracle! (other of course than people’s non-blaming, individual efforts).

  17. Rodrigo Casimbon says:

    Nothing more to add!

  18. Bill in Oz says:

    @Joe..Now you stand revealed ! A share holding capitalist ! The problem is that given human nature I cannot see any other system being effective at generating prosperity..Even Castro in Cuba while providing excellent health & education systems could satisfy the ordinary needs of ordinary people for a measure of prosperity. And so it too is changing becoming more private enterprise focused…and seeking foreign exchange & capital from other countries like the US

    • Joe America says:

      Yep, definitely a capitalist, but not an imperialist, and not a warmonger for nation-building. Just defense. I align with the Democratic platform more so than the Republican. More to the Clinton version than the Sanders. I suppose I’m rather like Warren Buffett. We are two birds of the same feather. He’s the eagle, I’m the ratty-ass sparrow with lice and hawks chasing me.

      • chempo says:

        To sound profound, on the political spectrum you must be middle left. I’m more middle right owning. Most western countries hv left the middle ground and headed left. Philippines hv left or right. All the parties hv no ideologies. Eg take Binay he is all for making business easier when speaking at makati business club, outside of the club he is champion of freebies.

      • mercedes santos says:

        Somehow I read two thirds of the same feather, my bad . . .

    • The Cubans at least did both revolutions (Indepence and Castro) properly.

      The NPA has degenerated into an extortionist racket and sometimes just sabotage – blowing up electric masts or phone exchanges. The thing that surprises me in no small manner is that the present administration actually has gotten a number of things done properly. Let us say that I started from extremely low expectations. And I know how much was just for show in Marcos years. Even if I still suspect at times that it is just the rest of ASEAN making sure Juan Tamad keeps walking so the parade of progress is not stopped.

      • For me one of the best revolution in the history, I enjoyed watching how they killed the corrupt through firing squad, Dismantle all the land monopolies including Fidel families land. The revolution was so powerful it nearly change everything.
        But there are some problems there afterwards, Castro should have declare an election, He knew that Cuba will be isolated from the democratic countries of the world if he lead the country with such a totalitarian dictatorship.

  19. karlgarcia says:

    Let us talk about that 500 lawyers to sue those behind the black propaganda. Will they monitor facebook likes,reactions,retweets and shares and all the comment threads in the interwebs? 🤔😱😳

      • Alpha Phi Omega Lawyers League Organization = APOLLO. I have wondered about certain people apparently supporting Binay – no I will not name names – but now I connect that they happen to be APO brothers. APO is huge and if he has them solid it’s over.

        • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

          A crack is a crack, Irineo. Don’t worry. APO is not as solid as it seems. I have it on good authority. Brothers are chafing at the bit, aware that too many chapters all over the country have diluted the original form and substance of the brotherhood.

      • Joe America says:

        That’s all I know. That article. Sent a shiver down my spine. I’m surprised it did not cause a huge protest from social media, journalists and human rights organizations. It’s horribly offensive, I think.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Not even from Manuel Buencamino?He is usually quick to react to those types of news,the last meme I forwarded that came from him was about Enrile.

        • Madlanglupa says:

          It means if their bro is sworn into office, anything said against Binay would be regarded by his “brothers” as lese majeste. Or worse, they’ll simply crumple freedom of speech.

          • Joe America says:

            Smart people in league with thieves and liars, the bond of friendship and “what’s in it for me” more important than right or wrong. Pretty disgusting.

            • I grew up on UP Campus, but I don’t remember seeing “Applied Crookery 101” courses.

              Maybe these are graduate courses. Let us ask MRP, he might know more. 🙂

              • mercedes santos says:

                Oh, where have you gone joe dimaggio ? Binay’s daughter has a degree in tourism
                industry. so why not cookery, crookery,plundery from esteemed UP ???

            • Madlanglupa says:

              I think there’s another reason for, um, support: a Binay administration means a bonanza for these lawyers and their clients: kickbacks, grease, lagay, and 10,000-peso toilet seats.

              • Joe America says:

                Yes, I am sure he shakes the hand of anybody with any influence at all, looks them straight in the eye and says, “if you back me, you won’t regret it”, with just the slightest exchange of knowing nods.

    • Joe America says:

      You need to direct those questions to the Binay camp, I think. I’m surprised it died as a news item so easily. It sent a shiver down my spine. Here is the article, which is all I know.


      • NHerrera says:

        That makes me — a 78 year-old — tremble too, not necessarily for myself. Notice that my participation here especially as it concerns Binay, sparse as it normally is, has become even sparser. (The last line is a joke.)

        Yes, indeed. The media which makes mountains out of molehills have been generally tongue-tied on this one. Who defines black-prop?

  20. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    I was entertained by Chris Rock at the Oscar.


    I thank my publicist for securing me a seat at the Oscar.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Diversity in the Philippines is a farce.
      There is no diversity.
      Filipinos are not represented in Miss Philippines

      It is OK to have black beauty contestant in America
      It is OK to have non-white brown beauty contestant in America
      People of color immigrate to America

      Philippines kicked out ex-colonists
      Philippines hate Spaniards
      Philippines ejected Japanese
      Philippines wanted Americans out
      When it comes to beauty, they import from colonist countries

      Filipinos wanted diversity by minority
      Filipinos discriminate majority.


      It is fun in the Philippines
      Enjoy the sinnery and sighs !

      • Don’t worry MRP… maybe the next President will be small, dark and handsome.

        But in that case you cannot avoid that he will be from UP.

        • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

          MRP is like a dash of siling labuyo, spicing things up, just enough of the Philippine flavor of love-hate for the beloved-hated country. Thanks, MRP! MRP pa more!

          • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

            Aha! Ha! Ha! I do not have … HateBookPage! That belongs to GetRealPhilippines extremist hate group. They hate anything Filipino. They are internet terrosit group.

        • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

          Aha! Ha! Ha! You mean Jejo Binay? OMG! I better rally my compatriots!

          Register to Vote!

  21. cha says:

    My daughter’s true blue Aussie friends, both 19 year olds, just recently came back from a trip to the Philippines. They went to Palawan, the Banaue rice terraces and Manila. They just loved the first two destinations, Manila not so much.

    Several of the hubby’s young colleagues at work also went to Palawan as well for the Christmas holidays.

    Two private Catholic high schools in Sydney have started sending their students to Manila as part of a broader social justice Immersion and action program in some underprivileged communities where the schools have tie-ups with their counterparts in the Philippines (Opus Dei and Lasallian brothers). Many continue on the journey and visit other parts of the country after completing the program

    Young Filipino Australians, mostly second generation migrants brought by their parents to Australia when they were very young, have likewise been travelling back to the Philippines bringing their Aussie friends/spouses along as they rediscover the sights and sounds of their country of birth.

    Time was when the only Aussies I would meet that have gone to the Philippines were mostly old people who went during the ’80s. One had the misfortune of being around during one of the Ramboys’ coup attempts at the time. Needless to say, this one never thought of ever coming back at all. The rest could only remember how bad the air pollution in Manila was.

    The Dept of Tourism, in recent times, has done a really great job promoting the Philippines as a fun destination for a younger generation from key tourism markets such as Australia. Add to that low plane fares that have flooded the market spurred by the entry of Cebu Pacific as an option for international travellerrs from Australia and a general perception of peace and stability, perhaps because of less or absence of news that would normally scare off foreign travellers, you know like coup de etats, bomb scares, terror attacks, kidnappings and the like. Outside of the Philippines, people have come to believe that things are going well for our country, well enough for them to visit and enjoy, get high on its natural beauty without fear for their safety.

    Unfortunately it seems, many Filipinos in the country choose to see otherwise. They stand to lose everything that they haven’t even allowed themselves to acknowledge. But that is their choice. The rest who have chosen to get high on what the country has been able to achieve in recent times, those who have allowed themselves to be happy and experience a sense of national pride, they already won. They know why and what they are fighting for. I believe they will prevail.

    • Joe America says:

      One would think that anyone in the business community would advocate for a continuation of the Aquino ways and means. Tourist industry people, for sure. I am always surprised when I find intelligent businessmen supporting candidates who have a strong chance of upsetting the economic apple cart.

      • cha says:

        I reckon if we draw up the list of this supposedly “intelligent” businessmen we will find no surprises at all. They’d be the same hateful oligarchs who’d been living up the backs of those who do the hard work. They are intelligent in the sense that they have mastered the ways of getting government to help them enrich themselves even more. They want all the apples put in their own cart. The rest of the country can feed on sour sampalok for all they care.

        • Joe America says:

          Thanks for putting supposedly in front of that “intelligent”.

        • Vicara says:

          Speaking of apples–literally: Those of us who have lived long enough can remember when apples cost up to PhP35-50 EACH, back in the 1980s, when the Philippine economy was tanking under Marcos. I was blessed to have a job, as the unemployment rate then was about 25 percent. My entry level salary–the equivalent of what a first-time BPO worker would get today–was PhP1,500. This means that, in their entirely, my monthly earnings could buy at most about 40 apples or so. One reason the price of apples was so inflated was that their importation was supposedly controlled by a Romualdez. All apples entered the country through him.

          My office mate was at the international airport–still MIA, before Ninoy’s assassination–and noticed stacks of cartons filled with apples, awaiting pickup. The guard watching over the apples let on that it was a special shipment, for the Christmas party at Malacanang. My office mate calculated that these apples had a Manila market value then of PhP50,000. Maybe it was the Romualdez guy’s contribution to the potluck Christmas dinner of his relatives occupying Malacanang. Or just a gesture of appreciation for being allowed to monopolize the apple trade.

          • Waray-waray says:

            Ha-ha-ha, so true. In those days if you are able to buy apples you’re big time!

            Christmas ’78, my mother went to visit her siblings in Quezon and back to our town in Samar she had apples and grapes for pasalubong. The fruits we were told were sent via a balikbayan box by an uncle in the States. We the kids were so happy especially when the smell of the apples wafted through the air. To us it was truly the scent of Christmas. We arranged, rather displayed the apples in our DIY Christmas tree and smelt the scent of the apples for days. When the scent started to fade, that was the only time then that we went to eat the apples.

            I could only imagine what we did with the apples when we were kids are what the North Koreans are doing now, if and when they are able to have some.

        • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

          They are “intelligent” because they are the monopolists. They are mostly non-Filipinos ex-colonists. The Filipinos are relegated to being traded in POEA floors for export or trade in Sari-Sari stores.

          Were it not for exporting Filipinos, there wouldn’t be “markets” to play with.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Banaue Rice Terraces will soon be upgraded by UNESCO as 6th Wonder of the World from 7th. UNESCO is wondering why they built, without UNESCO’s approval, a parking structure that marred Banaue Rice Terraces view. They might as well build a mall right in the middle of the paddies.

    • Waray-waray says:

      There is this Mexican family in our parish whose kids went to the same school as my daughter. A son went to Switzerland for university and a daughter is studying at a nursing school in Davao. The parents said that she liked it there a lot. They come to visit the daughter when their schedules allow.

    • Chris Ibarra says:

      I have relatives and friends from Metro Manila and CALABARZON in their late forties and early 50’s. They have visited Boracay, Bohol, Cagayan de Oro, Surigao, Vigan, Banaue. Thanks to Facebook of course. What they do is they buy every time there is a promo fare or seat sale from any airlines. The local tourism is really booming. The challenge for foreign tourists is the long flight if one is coming from North America or Europe. Then the inconveniences at the airport. We need a brand new bigger airport with 4 runways. A lot of my schoolmates from grade school and high school have been to many parts to the Phillppines but not abroad( except Singapore &Hongkong). They know its very expensive given the exchange rate. Some are OFW’s, some have small business and other government employees. What I can say about k-12 program is in some countries like Canada, there is actually junior kindergarten, senior kindergarten then Grade 1 although it is mostly arts, crafts and very important values formation_ respect for environment, respect for others beliefs and respect for human rights . By the time they graduate elementary which is Grade 8, they are expose to a lot of technology. There are pc’s in school but it is in high school where they really get driven to do power point presentation- arts, sciences; story telling, essays by Grade 10 they are choosing courses they wish to explore _Arts, Industrial or mechanical arts, health sciences; so by Grade 11 they do co-op program by working 1 or 2 days a week in a hospital if its a health sciences course ( nursing, pharmacy, medicine) or factory – assembly line , welding, manufacturing. They continue into Grade 12 and by the time they graduate-18 years young, they are very well- equipped. They can look for work or they can go to colleges or universities – Bachelor in Scineces, Arts etc.. or go to Trade Schools to increase knowledge in Masonry, brick laying, electrical, plumbing, construction. oil rig pipe fitting etc.. This is where TESDA needs to be expanded in offerings and more locations opened specially in provinces….

  22. cha says:

    Here’s one short film presentation that’s captured the imagination of and enticed many young travellers to come to the Philippines.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Philippines vs Thailand vs Vietnam vs Burma vs Laos

      In these countries except Philippines where you can travel into the remotest corner of Hmong tribes and not harmed. You are safe. They only over-charge foreigners. For how much? $5.00 the most. That is worth safe travel and awesome scenery and sights away from it all to enjoy amalgam of myriad traditional dishes.

      Flash your passport. Slam it on the front desk. Show your international driver’s license and you’ll get rental bike for couple of days. Nothing like that in the Philippines. They do not let foreigner self-drive a Toyota Corolla for even an hour or bike for that matter to see the sighs, sinneries and miseries which is ferry boat ride to a unomfortable day bus ride.

      These countries do not have US Travel Advisories for the past 10 years despite failed coup in Bangkok.

      Another reason Philippines is not tourist destination there is no substance in VLog about Philippines. If there is it is only 30 second clip about themselves and peace signs mostly bugal-bugal yaga-yaga. Nothing serious.

  23. cha says:

    Re: Editor’s note on right column, I turn to CMFR (Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility) myself.

    Depending on how ypu look at it, CMFR shows that there are still practitioners who understand what media’s job ought to be; or it also shows how desperately bad things actually are. I just choose the former, or else go crazy. 🙂


  24. pelang says:

    Ang ganda nito. How do you get to share this. I’ve tried, i don’t know if it worked.

    • cha says:

      Hi Pelang, if you meant the volcanoes and national parks video, there’s a share icon at the right of that screen, third from the top.

    • karlgarcia says:

      At the end of the article,there is a share this portion,then click on facebook……If you did that already,do not worry I am sure it worked.

  25. Joe,

    This is still my favourite article on your blog, https://joeam.com/2015/06/07/the-philippines-new-thinkers-wanted/

    The moment the Philippines begin producing folks like Baruch Spinoza, or at least appreciating them (because I’m sure there are already plenty of them over there).

    Aside from his Philosophy (Ethics), Spinoza was an Entrepreneur, http://www.forbes.com/sites/babson/2012/05/24/you-cant-teach-entrepreneurship

    1). Can’t manufacture Risk-Takers.

    2). Methods change, Chaos reigns.

    3). Can’t learn it, you gotta do it.

    Which brings us to,

    Where’s the NEGOSYO CENTER articles? Aside from the Gov’t and Faith-based organization (both scams), where are the Risk-Takers? Can we feature more Filipinos able to be creative in thought? New Thinkers?

    • Joe America says:

      Ahhh, it is still on my checklist of todo blogs. It involves research which, on some days, is hard or impossible because of lousy internet connection here in the boonies. I’ll get to it soon.

      • Joe, continuing on your People Powered Journalism thought,

        it’d be cool to see this blog take more of a posture like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_Company_(magazine) Start pushing for ingenuity over there, and not just Palm Oil fads reliant/dependent on foreign markets.

        I wonder if Bam’s Negosyo Centers will have libraries filled with just Tim Ferris books 😉 (and also Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984’)

        • Joe America says:

          That would be a good agenda, but this blog is unlikely to pursue such admirable aims because it takes energy and more than an ancient guy at a typewriter on a hill trying to make sense of it all. As I thought through how one does a bigger, better effort, it became clear that it requires staff and budget, which means revenue. Or fund raising. That’s not my bag, but anyone else is welcome to take it up.

          • Didn’t mean for you to carry the whole load here, Joe (you should be enjoying green Mangoes w/ shrimp paste laying in your hammock 😉 ), tap into say Bam Aquino’s ecosystem.

            You have a very wise (old 🙂 ) ecosystem here, caliphman and chempo (and you) represent private sector stuff, while most of us either come from the gov’t side or big corporations (9 to 5 types). This Joeam ecosystem is best utilized as wise sages,

            but you’ll have to get fresh, young blood to handle the Fast Company posture of the blog– hence Bam Aquino’s entrepreneurs and college students.

            maybe get giancarlo to touch base with Bam Aquino and Mar Roxas’ peeps and get started on how to open businesses, how to leverage the internet (and get broader bandwidth), setting up safety nets, since failure is inevitable, etc.

            Your blog could definitely cover this, we just need to brainstorm ways to get Fast Company-type writers and experts and personalities (Rah-rah, “You can do this”–types) to write these articles.

            • http://www.gonegosyo.net/ – those here who don’t like Poe should not be bothered by the pictures of her in front – she ATTENDED the Pasay meeting on female enterpreneurship but I saw on Facebook that she managed to get in front of nearly all official photos.

              On the FB page of Go Negosyo there is an interesting picture of Senators Poe and Legarda and Congresswoman Robredro – all “friendly” like in a Miss Universe lineup, the kind of “friendliness” women have when they are about to go at another with claws IMHO.

              The European Chamber of Commerce has it’s Young Professionals Committee. http://www.eccp.com/calendar-page.php?cal_id=243&category=3 saw a recent FB picture with Bam Aquino giving a speech before them. These are just two examples of goings-on.

            • Joe America says:

              Sorry for the delay in responding. Our ELECTRICITY was out for four hours this afternoon. That is a common problem. And I am too lazy to start the generator but not to pick up a John Le Carre masterpiece (The Mission Song). It is up to others to be the pusher. I can’t run a business here or engage in politics. Plus, I don’t want to sell, wheedle, beg, argue or explain. I want to write.

    • Joe America says:

      I remembered that this came across the news yesterday. 22 year old kid’s project. http://technology.inquirer.net/46928/ph-largest-solar-farm-up-in-batangas

      There are a lot of stories of people who are making it, other than the oligarchs, even at the local level. We know one family where the husband, a seaman, pulls in about P250,000 a month driving a ship. He is investing in a local business here on Biliran which his wife runs. It is expanding and soon will be generating as much or more than the seaman earns. Young family, maybe late 20’s or early 30’s. The Philippines is like the US in the 50’s, with tremendous potential starting to be tapped. If land can be unbound, even more can be tapped. It’s just that the political landscape and a lot of social values are frayed. So the entrepreneurs have to operate in that environment. But my point is, this is not the same Philippines as in 2010, and we ought not let our grousing about the political scene take away that progress and promise.

      • Joe,

        I’m old school too, and don’t know much about tech stuff— so you’re land unbound, I’m equating to the OK Sooners or CA Gold-rush.

        But SF is on to something, and the pie is bigger than anticipated I’m sure. I’m thinking your local Biliran heroes will be better served by good internet connection, not just business-wise, but opening up to bigger markets.

        This is waaaaay too open for sabotage,

        Hence, this cable should a big deal,

        If you asked people in 1480,
        25 years after the Gutenberg Bible was published,
        how likely do you think it is that Gutenberg’s invention will:

        (a) Undermine the authority of the Catholic Church?
        (b) Trigger a Protestant Reformation?
        (c) Enable the rise of modern science?
        (d) Create entirely new social classes and professions?
        (e) Change our conceptions of “childhood” as a protected early period in a person’s life?

        there wouldn’t have been the faintest chance that they could have foreseen these long-term effects.

        In the same way we, who live only 30 years after the invention of the Internet (and Altair 8800 in 1975, personalizing this whole thing), cannot possibly foresee the profound effects it will have on our societies and our ways of organizing our social lives and our knowledge (not to mention FREE internet porn for everyone).

        • Free Internet porn is not even courtesy of Binay.

          Since Filipinos are mainly visual – for the most part it is still a semi-literate peasant society, no offense intended, I went to a Benedictine place near Bonn for years and only looked at the nearly Byzantine Christ mosaic never knew it was Benedictine until I discussed it with sonny recently in my blog – being able to see things also from other parts of the world, family worldwide sharing photos on Facebook contributes far more to the widening of Filipino perspectives than all the writings of Rizal and his generation combined. Just like Heneral Luna only became real for many (he did exist in books) with the recent movie.

          • karlgarcia says:

            How is the knowledge of history judged,just because one sikat na artista does a gaffe or for example if Irineo is famous and he stated a glaring error on twitter,like saying he never knew Mabini was crippled then the following day,it is declared that we suck in history.

            • I have wondered… some of the articles where I got numerous likes were read only 1/20th of the time or 1/10 maximum. Many just liked the picture or the buzzword I guess.

              With “semi-literate” I also mean the attitude of many just to memorize stuff no matter how elaborate to pass the courses they take, but ask them for one application of what they memorized you see blank stares. If they at least scratched their heads I would understand, or looked confused, that would mean they are at least thinking about it. Well I think that the educational system for the most part rewards parroting – I remember how our teacher taught us about “encomienda system” but just as a buzzword without explaining anything.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Without the internet to let me review about it,I totally forgot about the encomienda system.

              • We had to memorize the years when there was the encomienda system but were never told what it really was about.

                We also had to memorize names of different native music instruments, but we were also not told what they were, by that time I had learned NOT to ask because teachers got offended. Probably they did not know the answers themselves, just followed instructions.

              • sonny says:

                I remember clearly when basic Sociology, Economics, Retail Merchandising, PH History were taught in 2nd and 3rd yr high school. The challenge to critical thinking was barely piqued. Consequently rote accumulation of events and facts were the default arena for learning and the time allotment for doing so outside of the classroom was a burden or merely a way to pad one’s cumulative grade for the year.

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