Mapping our future: Are we up to the REAL challenge?

What does the Philippine “Opposition” offer us other than a position that involves merely replacing the incumbent? Is replacing the incumbent an end in itslf? Or is mapping out WHAT HAPPENS NEXT the whole point of an “opposition”? Until we as a people become a bit more serious about seeing some evidence of a bit of thinking in our politicians, all we will be getting from them will be empty promises, over-used platitudes, and tired slogans.

It’s the reason why a $20,000 presidential meal in New York (and then a $15,000 one) captures the imagination of the public and provides fodder for a whole cadre of me-too “journalists” and “reporters”. No less than The Noted One comes up with a blow-by-blow account of the events surrounding the controversy.

And to what point made?

Well apparently…

[…the moral of the story of all that was] that days of furious crisis management by the Palace have failed to debunk the original assertions of the New York Post:

1. A wedding anniversary dinner took place on July 31 (not on August 2, the actual anniversary) at Le Cirque (there were other anniversary-related meals on August 2 itself);

2. The President was accompanied by “a large entourage” to “enjoy the good life”;

3. The President ordered several bottles of very expensive wine;

4. The dinner tab was $20,000.

So that, just when the Palace thought it had turned the tables on the Philippine media, the Washington Post reports a $15,000 steakhouse dinner in Washington DC.

Which has opened up another can of worms -and there’s nine years’ worth of those cans ready to burst open, it seems.

So for that matter, while we are on the topic of opening cans of worms, why then don’t we go into related cans of worms and put a bit of perspective around that $35,000 everybody is yakking about, shall we? Specifically let us look back beyond “nine years’ worth of those cans” and go back, say, fifty years and take stock of the BILLIONS of dollars of foreign aid and development loans thrown at us in an attempt to cure that Pinoy Condition we are so famously afflicted with to this day.

Where are the results?

Then there is this whole matter of Mar Roxas “allowing” quintuplets to die. resident “revolutionary” Patricio Mangubat starts with an indictment of Roxas and ends with a call to charity in that single blog entry. Again we ask the question: What was the point of all that again?

Where there is none, commentor “Joe America” steps in to propose one and save us all a heap of time commenting on the matter:

It is not for Mar Roxas to serve as parent, family, or government aid-giver for every destitute Filipino. He is a private citizen with a public job. If he filled every outstretched hand, he would also be destitute. Your wrath is suitably aimed at a government that does little to stop runaway population growth and poverty, and fails to provide adequate health care for children and adults across the country.

My opinion is shaded by having money, having outstretched hands reaching for it, in tears, a lot, and having to make “no” decisions that affect people’s lives. Sometimes no is hard to say; but sometimes it has to be said.

Go to the root cause and fix that. Don’t pin the troubles of the Philippines on one man’s personal decision.

I’m pretty sure some dimwit will pop up and echo Mangubat’s argument that those lives “could have been saved from death, had Roxas fulfilled his promise of at least helping them raise funds for the medical expenses”.

Well now. So we are suddenly in the business of holding politicians to their “promises”, are we? How convenient that our “socially aware” pundits would bring up an easy target like the one above yet neglect to put this in the perspective of more humungous promises so routinely broken by countless politicos over the last several decades. The Jolog Queen of the Pinoy blogosphere for her part is still fixated on that uniquely Pinoy passive-aggressive approach of supporting a bunch morons whose only claim to fame is pursuing acts of rebellion against legitimate governments.

Why not instead, hold some bozo accountable for allowing Sulpicio Lines to continue operating despite a track record of maritime infamy stretching back to the 1980’s?

As such I find Harvey Keh’s Philippine Oppositionist’s Wet Dream quite amusing:

Imagine if all of these [Philippine “opposition”] groups can come together, set aside their personal differences, work towards a common vision for a better Philippines and eventually field a common slate for the 2010 elections then I would think we can have a strong fighting chance of finally electing effective, ethical and empowering government leaders for our country. Similar to the situation that we found ourselves in 1986, we find that many of our democratic institutions even the recent giving of the National Artist Awards have been bastardized by this administration. Similar to 1986, the 2010 elections will be a battle between those who believe in restoring our democratic processes and those who want to continue to usurp it for their own personal gain. Similar to 1986, we are also faced with the challenge to unite all of these well-meaning groups in order for us to come up with a formidable force that will give this current administration a run for its money in 2010. Similar to 1986, all of these reform groups have to eventually find it in themselves to be humble enough to sacrifice their own beliefs in order for us to unite for a cause that is bigger than all of us.

You know what, Mr. Keh? We can keep calling for “unity”, a setting aside of “personal differences”, or a coming up with “a common vision” for a “better Philippines” ’til we all turn blue. But none of that will happen until we find the wherewithal to hold our candidates to some sort of PUBLISHED platform or vision or some evidence that what comes out of their fat mouths is backed up by some form of deliberate thinking.

Candidates should be able to show that they have a coherent and carefully thought-through roadmap of how to take the Philippines from A to B within the six years that they will be serving us.

That simple sentence above implies three elements:

– Defining Point A (our current situation);
– Defining Point B (where we want to be); and,
– Plotting the course between the above two points.

In fact I spell out a simple Four-Step-Process for developing such a roadmap here. There is no excuse for not having one because it is not hard to come up with one at all.

So far I have seen no evidence amongst any particular bunch of politician much less any of our stands-for-nothing political “parties” that such an undertaking is given the appropriate attention.


It is astounding how much we could focus on events that when put side-by-side with the monumental collective failures of our society over the last half-century, so pale in comparison, yet balk at giving even cursory attention to the stuff that can potentially deliver real change, even at least by the concrete hope it offers simply by being a different approach to regarding politics.

To cite a good case study we can follow from inception, blogger Reyna Elena has decided to support a call for the venerable Jaime Zobel de Ayala to run for President. Nice one. Indeed, wouldn’t it be nice to be led by a guy who is an esteemed alumna of the Harvard Business School and head of one of the most brilliantly-run business conglomerates in the land — a vast enterprise that has sunk in more piles supporting an infrastructure base of standards of quality unmatched by any Government-funded project?

Well then I’m sure even a graduate of Lola Basyang’s Business School in Valenzuela, much less that of the prestigious HBS, will be able to follow a four step process to show how serious he/she is about the business of running a country.

So too, Reyna Elena and company, if you truly support this candidate and are serious about the job you’ve put your hand up for, then the challenge is quite simple. Help this candidate differentiate himself from all the rest and work towards coming up with a coherent platform you can propose he take up to demonstrate to him that you too take the whole Office of the President seriously. Considering that the man is an esteemed alumna of the Harvard Business School, that should not be too tall an order.

We keep searching for a coherent picture of our future and scrounge around for clues as to how to answer the question What’s next? Well, folks that picture can only crystallise when a bit of thinking is applied — the kind that goes beyond quaint platitudes and tired slogans, and certainly beyond the kinds of crap that our esteemed traditional experts encourage us to lap up.

Get Real Philippines!

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7 Responses to Mapping our future: Are we up to the REAL challenge?

  1. Filo says:

    Damn I fell for Mangubat’s bait!

  2. ilda says:

    I can’t believe there is no one from the media asking the presidential candidates for a platform.

  3. BenK says:

    @ilda, why is that so hard to believe? Since when has the word “depth” been applied to the Philippine media by anyone other than themselves?

  4. BongV says:

    You know what, Mr. Keh? We can keep calling for “unity”, a setting aside of “personal differences”, or a coming up with “a common vision” for a “better Philippines” ’til we all turn blue. But none of that will happen until we find the wherewithal to hold our candidates to some sort of PUBLISHED platform or vision or some evidence that what comes out of their fat mouths is backed up by some form of deliberate thinking

    Exactly. Surely, the “common vision” was first uncommon. After deliberate evaluation and the subsequent adoption, the uncommon vision now becomes “common”. But that’s putting the cart before the horse.

    The first order of the day then is – what is the uncommon vision being presented for adoption into a “common vision” – for short, before anything else, platform plez.

    This is a trapo’s greatest fear, like Primer’s loathing to encourage voters to scrutinize the candidates in a rational manner – the exposure of a candidate’s intellectual bankruptcy, the consistency of a candidate’s acts in the past, present, and the future – with the principles the candidate claims to stand for.

  5. benign0 says:

    Yeah BongV. How can one aspire to a common vision when Pinoys do not even have a clear notion of what “The Filipino” stands for much less a general vision for it to begin with?

    And that’s the general feeling I get too. i’ve even experienced it in large projects. Everyone seems to prefer to talk at a “high level” and seem to shy away from going into the detail, and I suspect it is because when a certain level of detail is touched upon, the true competencies or non-competencies of people start to emerge.

  6. Pingback: JAZA-yuki! | Filipino Voices

  7. Quezon and other people outraged about GMA’s Le Cirque meal forget the obvious:
    1) Le Cirque is a top restaurant in New York

    2) New York is a very expensive city

    I dined at an equally fancy restaurant in New York in 1999 and the bill was $400 for two people.  For a prix fixe meal (set price)!  That was 10 years ago.  GMA’s dinner was not overpriced, not by a long shot.  It’s actually a good deal.

    Although I’m not a GMA fan by any stretch of the imagination, what do her haters expect her to do?  Eat at a hotdog stand?

    This story sells newspapers, scores political points, and pretty much does all sorts of wonder healing miracles for political opponents and detractors here in the Philippines.  Unfortunately, when it comes to propaganda, grandstanding, and straight out pimping, facts and context are the first victims.

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