Culture & Destiny: Why Culture Determines Winners & Losers

More than twenty years ago, James Fallows wrote an article entitled “A Damaged Culture: A New Philippines?” It was Fallows who coined the term “damaged culture” to describe our country’s polarity and cultural backwardness. Of course, many of our highly sensitive and emotional countrymen were very infuriated and felt insulted by this foreign correspondent from The Atlantic Monthly. Many media practitioners lambasted him and called him names and some of them even called him “parachutist,” which pertained to a foreign correspondent who stayed in our country for a few days and reported a very “comprehensive and in-depth” story about us.

Filipinos: a "Shiny, Happy People"; But shouldn't we learn to be serious in order to develop our economy?

Mr. James Fallows was the only courageous foreign correspondent since then to write something about our damaged culture. And there are, of course, explanations for the reluctance of foreign correspondents to write something critical about another country’s traditional cultural values and beliefs.

David Landes, New York Times bestselling author of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, explained that culture, in the sense of the inner values and attitudes that guide a population, frightens scholars. He added that criticizing another culture has a sulfuric odor of race and inheritance, an air of immutability… Besides, criticisms of culture cut close to the ego and injure identity and self-esteem. Coming from outsiders, such animadversions, however tactful and indirect, stink of condescension. Lawrence Harrison, author of Underdevelopment Is a State of Mind, Who Prosper? and The Pan-American Dream, also explained that the influence of cultural values, beliefs, and attitudes, on the way that societies evolve has been shunned by scholars, politicians, and development experts, notwithstanding the views of Tocqueville, Max Weber, and more recently Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, David Landes, Robert Putnam, Martin Seymour Lipset, Lucian Pye, among others. He added that it is much more comfortable for the experts to cite geographic constraints, insufficient resources, bad policies, and weak institutions. That way they avoid the invidious comparisons, political sensitivities, and bruised feelings often engendered by cultural explanations of success and failure. However, he stressed that by avoiding culture, the experts also ignore not only an important part of the explanation of why some societies or ethno-religious groups do better than others with respect to democratic governance, social justice, and prosperity. They also ignore the possibility that progress can be accelerated by (1) analyzing cultural obstacles to it, and (2) addressing cultural change as remedy. He also explained that the influence of culture on the way that societies evolve is central not only to the goal of reducing poverty and injustice around the world but is also a key factor in foreign policy.

David Landes

On July 7, 1986, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the late Senator from New York, wrote this maxim in The New Republic: “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”

Lawrence Harrison explained that cultural change usually occurs when two factors coincide: (1) leaders with a progressive vision, and (2) a time of crisis or unique opportunity. The following summarized success stories of leadership of visionary leadership and initiatives to promote progressive cultural change that promote political, economic, social development and human progress were culled from Developing Cultures: Case Studies:

  • Deng Xiaoping’s reversal of the “Marxist-Leninist-Maoist” order of things by promoting private enterprise in the wake of the disaster of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.
  • The young Meiji leaders’ response to compelling evidence of how far behind the West Tokugawa Japan was in the second half of the nineteenth century.
  • Lee Kuan Yew’s vision of a modern, efficient, and affluent — if not extremely democratic — Singapore, initiated at a moment of political crisis when Singapore was booted out from the Malaysian Federation.
  • Lawrence E. Harrison

    The Taiwanese economic as well as political “miracles” under the Chiangs, facing military threat from the Mainland.

  • A strikingly similar “miracle,” first economic and then political, in South Korea under Park Chung Hee, also under military threat from the North.
  • Kemal Mustafa Atatürk’s Western and European-oriented cultural revolution after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the threat to Turkey’s continued existence.
  • Botswana under Sir Seretse Khama’s enlightened leadership at the moment of independence in 1966, followed by the extraordinarily effective democratic leadership of the country’s succeeding presidents, Quett Masire and Festus Mogae.
  • Chile’s return to democracy after the traumatic Pinochet dictatorship, but with a series of center/left-of-center leaders starting in 1989 with Patricio Aylwin perpetuating Milton Friedman’s free market policies as initiated under the dictator with inputs from the “Chicago Boys” (Friedman’s former economics students at the University of Chicago).
  • The vision of Governor Mikhail Prusak and other leaders of a democratic, progressive Novgorod, rooted in a centuries-old mythical tradition, in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • New leadership in Ireland, starting with Prime Minister Sean Lemass in 1959, committed to the modernization of a country that had fallen far behind much of the rest of Europe in both economic and social terms.
  • Italy’s rejection of long-standing protectionist economic policies following its disastrous World War II collaboration with Germany.
  • The key role of King Juan Carlos in Spain’s transition to democracy following the death of Francisco Franco, the quintessential caudillo — and by Spain’s decision to open itself to the mainstream ideas of the West to permit the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution to cross the Pyrenees.
  • New leadership in Quebec, beginning with the Liberal Party government of Jean Lesage in 1960, committed to the modernization of a province that had fallen far behind much of the rest of Canada in both economic and social terms by engineering Quebec’s Quiet Revolution–a classic case of politics changing a culture and saving it from itself.

Dr. Samuel Huntington, PhD

Dr. Samuel Huntington, PhD, (1927-2008) also explained that societies may change their culture in response to major trauma. A very good classic example was the amazing transformation of both Germany and Japan from highly militaristic countries into two of the most pacifist.

Dr. Huntington also narrated in Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress this very fascinating story:

“In the early 1990s, I happened to come across economic data on Ghana and South Korea in the early 1960s, and I was astonished to see how similar their economies were then. These two countries had roughly comparable levels of per capita GNP; similar divisions of their economy among primary products, manufacturing, and services; and overwhelmingly primary product exports, with South Korea producing a few manufactured goods.

Also, they were receiving comparable levels of economic aid. Thirty years later, South Korea had become an industrial giant with the fourteenth largest economy in the world, multinational corporations, major export of automobiles, electronic equipment, and other sophisticated manufactures, and a per capita income approximating that of Greece. Moreover, it was on its way to the consolidation of democratic institutions. No such change had occurred in Ghana, whose per capita GNP was now about one-fifteenth that of South Korea’s.

How could this extraordinary difference in development be explained?

Undoubtedly, many factors played a role, but it seemed to me that culture had to be a large part of the explanation. South Koreans valued thrift, investment, hard work, education, organization, and discipline. Ghanaians had different values. In short, cultures count.”

The Philippines and Ghana almost share the same culture — the same irrationality, excessive conviviality or the propensity to feast that suggest that their societies are structured towards pleasure and the suppression of individualism.

Celebration in Ghana

Camerounian economist Dr. Daniel Etounga-Manguelle wrote a book entitled Does Africa Need a Cultural Adjustment Program? and set forth the following cultural obstacle to progress in most African countries including Ghana: present-time orientation, lack of concern in making efficient use of time, subordination of the individual to the community, excessive conviviality and avoidance of confrontation, little saving and much conspicuous consumption, very short radius of identification and trust, and the subordination and abuse of women. He also highlighted Africa’s excessive conviviality which was very strikingly similar to our culture. Everything, he said, is a pretext for celebration in Africa: birth, baptism, marriage, birthday, promotion, election, a return from a short or long trip, mourning, as well as traditional and religious feasts. Whether one’s salary is considerable or modest, whether one’s granaries are empty or full, the feast must be beautiful and must include the maximum possible number of guests.

Does this not sound very familiar?

In the early 1990’s Lee Kuan Yew stated that our country, the Philippines, was going nowhere because of our lack of discipline and excessive conviviality. We Filipinos, he added, possessed an “exuberant democracy” as we always have the propensity to feast incessantly with a bacchanalian attitude. It was in this particular instance that he advised us that instead of Democracy, Filipinos needed Discipline in order to build a successful society. Again, many Filipinos were incensed and infuriated including former president Fidel Valdez Ramos.

James Fallows, authored the infamous "Damaged Culture" essay

Let us return to James Fallows… In 1994, he wrote the critically acclaimed book entitled Looking at the Sun – The Rise and Fall of the New East Asian Economic and Political System. He never pulled his punches and neither did he mince words when he wrote about the Philippines. In the first paragraph, he wrote thusly, “The least successful-seeming society in East Asia is the Philippines. No one can take comfort in the fact–least of all Americans, since this is the society most heavily shaped in the American image. When Stanley Karnow called his mammoth history of the Philippines ‘In Our Image,’ he was not exaggerating. This is the largest country the United States ever attempted to colonize. It is the one part of East Asia to embrace most fully the “American Way” of two-party elections and an uncontrolled press.

Mr. Fallows also took a stinging jab at our shrinking economy which also appeared on his “Damaged Culture” article as he compared our economy to South Korea in the mid-1960s the way Samuel Huntington compared the economic data he gathered in the early 1990s on Ghana and South Korea in the early 1960s. According to Fallows, in the mid-1960s, when the seemingly idealistic Ferdinand Marcos began his first term as President, the two countries were economically even with each other, with similar per capita incomes of a few hundred dollars a year (The Philippines’ economy was ranked second in Asia in the 1950s and early 1960s, next to that of Japan–ANQ.).

Now look where we are right now. The Philippines is one of the poorest countries in Asia and we are aptly monickered as “The Sick Man of Asia.” Our cultural backwardness is one of the major reasons and perhaps the biggest stumbling block that prevents our progress as a nation — not so much the Marcos-regime of dictatorship and kleptocracy. (And if that were the case, the why was Indonesia able to progress economically under the authoritarian and kleptocratic rule of the Suharto family?) Unless we drastically change our damaged culture we will never prosper economically. Not only do we need a great leader with a progressive vision to lead our country but the entire citizenry needs to realize that we all have to fix our culture.

Dr. Daniel Latouche, PhD

The French-Canadian political scientist Daniel Latouche said it best, “There can be no cultural transformation without the widely-accepted belief that there is indeed something ‘wrong’ with the [culture] and without widespread discussion of how to fix it. For culture to matter, there must [first be] a realization that it needs fixing.”

Our Asian neighbors decided to look deeper into their own traditional cultural values and beliefs that hindered their success and changed them dramatically a few decades ago for the betterment of their respective countries and their own people. We, on the other hand, not only get very emotional and sensitive but also become rabidly enraged so that we hurl invectives when a foreign correspondent, another nation’s leader, or even comedians and Hollywood actresses lash out at our cultural backwardness.

I’m telling you this, my dear readers: If we don’t wake up from our deep slumber in order to change our defective and progress-resistant culture, we will be the poorest country in Asia someday and we will unfortunately always be a perennial loser-nation. Very sad and pathetic, indeed.

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107 Responses to Culture & Destiny: Why Culture Determines Winners & Losers

  1. Ben says:

    Interesting post.

    In what ways would you say that our Asian neighbours changed their traditional cultural values and beliefs? Certainly they adopted Western economic practices and ideas but it seems to me that they fit these new concepts into the framework of their cultures more than they changed their cultures to fit the framework of these new economic realities.

    Also, I’m not certain that suppressing individualism is really a hindrance to progress – just look at Japan and China. Both have a strong culture of the group yet both are economic powerhouses. In fact, it could be argued the individualism we associate with European countries is a by-product of economic development and not necessarily the driving force behind it. European industrialisation was built upon the exploitation of faceless workers who had next to no rights and were definitely not individualistic. For sure, there were headstrong leaders in these countries but that simply suggests that individualism was a privelege bestowed upon thise who were already well-off.

    This in turn suggests that those in the Phillipines who have the most resources available to them to create change are lacking in leadership and innovation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is an intrinsic cultural trait but more of a characteristic of that specific class.

    • Miauw Ming says:

      I quote from the article:
      “Lawrence Harrison explained that cultural change usually occurs when two factors coincide: (1) leaders with a progressive vision, and (2) a time of crisis or unique opportunity.”

      There were samples after that.

      I don’t see any mention about suppressing individualism in the article.

      Philippines has been in perennial crisis since I can remember (and probably before I was born). We were just not lucky to have a leader or leaders with a progressive vision. Probably something to do with our inability to put the right person on that spot due to a lot of cultural reasons.

      • Ben says:

        The post author mentioned it……

        “The Philippines and Ghana almost share the same culture — the same irrationality, excessive conviviality or the propensity to feast that suggest that their societies are structured towards pleasure and the suppression of individualism.”

        I think everyone agrees that things need fixing in the PI, and I agree that there may be cultrual factors involved. I just haven’t seen much written that convincingly shows that “collectivist” type societies are less able to develope strong economies or that individualism is or was the driving force behind industrialisation in the west.

        I’m all for brutally honest assesments of our culture, but it has to be convincing and accurate for it to be useful. Otherwise it’s simply a pointless rant.

      • Dr. José Rizal II says:

        At first glance, it may appear that “suppression of individualism” might refer to having more of a collective outlook, but on closer inspection, I think is a different situation from the “community-centric” ethos of many Asian societies where individualism or rather individual achievement is NOT suppressed.

        The Philippines (and Ghana) is a society wherein standing out like a sore thumb because of excellence is somehow seen as bad, whereas in many East Asian Confucian societies, achievement and individual excellence (for the benefit of the wider communty) is seen positively.

        Taken from that context, it is easy to see why “collectivist” societies from a Confucian background still tend to be very economically successful and it is because individual achievement is not suppressed. You are encouraged to be the best you can be – provided that what you do is of benefit to the wider community. In the other context as in the Philippines, sticking out tends to be seen negatively, as if you’re not trying to be one with the group, and thus there is a effort to make sure you conform with everyone else’s mediocrity.

      • GabbyD says:

        good point ben!

        it seems that the point is that some cultures have BOTH bad and good traits. if a society is successful, people point out the good traits and forget the bad ones.

      • BongV says:

        forget? how?

      • shiko says:

        Jumping out of nowhere, I agree with Rizal II (but apparently comments won’t nest that far) and Ben.

        There is a distinction to be made between standing out because one believes one is superior to everyone else and therefore refuses to be lumped together with them, and standing out because one inherently is, although one might still choose to apply their outstandingness (e.g. at a particular skill or ability) toward the collective good.

        Japan has a tremendous collectivist cultural emphasis. The phenomenon of bullying at schools is just one symptom that has been widely reported. But at the same time, there is a value placed on such things as hard work, perfectionism, and aestheticism. There is–arguably–no value placed on the individual AS SUCH. The individual is valued only insofar as they serve some greater value: creativity, originality, mastery. This is why they have artisans, master craftspersons, master musicians, master artists. Japan doesn’t “suppress” them–but not just because they “stand out,” but because they are valuable for what they do and produce.

        There are nuances to collectivism-versus-individualism that must be understood to make conclusions valid.

        To blame the situation of the country on “not having the right leader” is to oversimplify (conveniently). I’d humbly say that, yet again, it just points to the mentality that “one person (or a few) can and should fix it all for everyone else.”

        It is the empowerment of “everyone (else)” that defines individualism. It is the purpose of the greater, common good (though that can be arbitrarily defined; unfortunately, some have defined it as EXCLUDING individual good) that defines collectivism.

        To disparage some and exalt others is not individualism. It’s just elitism. To disparage others and exalt oneself is just ego(t)ism.

        The basis of individualism is the belief that everyone has equivalent potential for greatness. The basis of collectivism is the belief that anyone who does not apply this potential for the greater good (in some collectivist mindsets, REGARDLESS OF THE INDIVIDUAL GOOD) must be punished–again for the greater good. (Of course, these are general statements; qualify or correct if I’m wrong.)

        Is this what’s really happening in our culture?

        From what little I’ve seen in my relatively short life, the average Filipino mindset is more of “I must stand out because I’m superior to everyone else.” This is not individualism, though they’d like to pretend it is. This is just egoism. And in a country like ours where we have yet to actually get off the ground, egoism and elitism and not enough collectivism is not going to be conducive to progress.

      • shiko says:

        Just to expand on my previous comment, lest it be misconstrued.

        My point, and I think the point also of the other quoted observations, is function. I think Filipinos put too little emphasis on function, and instead emphasize existence, intention, what might (vaguely, because I never really studied philosophy in depth) be termed essence. This is why we are “happy go lucky”, “too convivial,” etc. Because apparently, most of us historically have believed that WHAT WE DO is not as important as HOW WE FEEL. (this is to oversimplify a bit, just to clarify the point.)

        This might be the particular “problem” with our culture, if we (at least, we in this thread) would prefer that we “get somewhere” as soon as possible.

        If the average Pinoy doesn’t feel personally gratified about doing something, no matter how useful, helpful, or beneficial it might be to the rest of our society, they simply don’t do it. Hence, corruption and palusot > rule of law, and so on.

        Basic Confucianism emphasizes function over essence any day. Who cares what you really feel or think. If you are a wife, this is what you do for your husband. If you are a father, this is what you do for your children. And so on. If you do otherwise, society must punish you, because it is society that stands to gain the most, and lose the most, by what you do or fail to do.

        The Japanese imported quite a bit of this ethic along with so much of Chinese culture that they imported back in the… 6th century or so, I think.

        South Korea I have much less knowledge of, but judging from the values cited in the quote–“thrift, investment, hard work, education, organization, organization, and discipline”–it’s not crucially different from the basic Confucian ethos.

        It’s similar to an army mentality.

        In an ideal setup, this works because everyone–from the very bottom to, crucially, the very top–submits wholeheartedly to the notion of EVERYONE’S GOOD [noun]. This falls apart once too many people in too critical spots in the system believe otherwise–when, for example, the Chinese government under the Cultural Revolution, or a corrupt or hubristic army leader, starts to differ in their private personal ideas of what exactly “everyone’s good” means, at best, and starts to interpret it as their own personal, supreme benefit, at worst (i.e. corruption).

    • Jon Abaca says:

      The article doesn’t mention it, but “individualism suppression” seems to be common in East Asian values.

      Still, both China and Japan had to “discipline” their citizens. For China, the discipline might be the result of their communist past. For Japan, the discipline might be the result of their heavily militarized, Imperial past.

      • Ben says:

        I don’t really agree with this. It’s probably more true that leaders in both Japan and China presented convincing reasons that persuaded their citizenry that it would be in their own interests to participate in the development process.

        Our ruling classes are already wealthy and so aren’t motivated to be the leaders that we need. That may be a cultural thing, but I think it’s more likely to be a class thing.

      • BongV says:

        @Ben – let’s get the facts on Japan’s transformation straight. Here you have a situation where the emperor decided it was time to modernize. the rest of japan was not ready to modernize. so you have – a nascent modern Japanese subculture – and the dominant feudal Japanese subculture consisting of the various samurai lords.


        In 1885, the intellectual Yukichi Fukuzawa wrote the influential essay Leaving Asia, arguing that Japan should orient itself at the “civilized countries of the West”, leaving behind the “hopelessly backward” Asian neighbors, namely Korea and China. This essay certainly contributed to the economic and technological rise of Japan in the Meiji period but it may also have laid the foundations for later Japanese colonialism in the region.


        The Meiji era denotes the period in Japanese history during the 45-year reign of the Meiji Emperor (from 23 October 1868 to 30 July 1912). During this time, Japan began its modernization and rose to world power status. Meiji means ‘Enlightened Rule’.

        After the death of the Meiji Emperor in 1912, the Taishō Emperor took the throne, thus beginning the Taishō period.

        On February 3, 1867, fifteen-year old Mutsuhito succeeded his father, Emperor Kōmei and a new era of Meiji, meaning “enlightened rule”, was proclaimed. The Meiji Restoration of 1868 ended the 265-year-old feudalistic Tokugawa shogunate.

        The first reform was the promulgation of the Five Charter Oath in 1868, a general statement of the aims of the Meiji leaders to boost morale and win financial support for the new government. Its five provisions consisted of

        1. Establishment of deliberative assemblies
        2. Involvement of all classes in carrying out state affairs
        3. The revocation of sumptuary laws and class restrictions on employment
        4. Replacement of “evil customs” with the “just laws of nature” and
        5. An international search for knowledge to strengthen the foundations of imperial rule.

        Implicit in the Charter Oath was an end to exclusive political rule by the bakufu and a move toward more democratic participation in government. To implement the Charter Oath, an eleven-article constitution was drawn up. Besides providing for a new Council of State, legislative bodies, and systems of ranks for nobles and officials, it limited office tenure to four years, allowed public balloting, provided for a new taxation system, and ordered new local administrative rules.

        The Meiji government assured the foreign powers that it would follow the old treaties negotiated by the bakufu and announced that it would act in accordance with international law. Mutsuhito, who was to reign until 1912, selected a new reign title—Meiji, or Enlightened Rule—to mark the beginning of a new era in Japanese history. To further dramatize the new order, the capital was relocated from Kyoto, where it had been situated since 794, to Tokyo (Eastern Capital), the new name for Edo. In a move critical for the consolidation of the new regime, most daimyo voluntarily surrendered their land and census records to the emperor in the Abolition of the Han system, symbolizing that the land and people were under the emperor’s jurisdiction.
        Emperor Meiji in his fifties

        Confirmed in their hereditary positions, the daimyo became governors, and the central government assumed their administrative expenses and paid samurai stipends. The han were replaced with prefectures in 1871, and authority continued to flow to the national government. Officials from the favored former han, such as Satsuma, Chōshū, Tosa, and Hizen, staffed the new ministries. Formerly out-of-favor court nobles and lower-ranking but more radical samurai replaced bakufu appointees, daimyo, and old court nobles as a new ruling class appeared.

      • Miriam Quiamco says:

        Jose Rizal could be right that the Confucian work ethic and the subjugation of the self to the greater good of the community is responsible for the cultural transformation of both Japan and China, thus leading to their economic development achievements. At least the elites of both countries are steeped in these cultural values, more so in Japan where the only form of education during the Tokugawa regime was Confucianism. In a way, Japan was forced to westernize to avoid colonialism, it was a closed society for centuries and was rather proud of its culture which was mainly based on Confucian cultural values. When Commodore Perry, an American, in his famous black ship forced Japan to open up, Japan had the wisdom not to fight back, although there a few samurais who did and lost, to succumb to the American demands.

        The extra-territorial treaties were a slap tin the face to the proud Japanese, but their enlightened elites saw an opportunity to transform their county in order to have equal status with the West. They clearly saw how the West divided China and to avoid the same fate, opted to adopt Western style political system so that it could be militarily and economically successful as the West to have equal status. You have to credit their enlightened elites to have chosen a clear way to modernization of the country. I am sure we have the same caliber of elites in our country, I can think of Teodoro, as a modern equivalent, but now, the media have so much sway on the masses, it seems hard for enlightened elites like those of the Meiji times to have influence in the transformation of our society.

        I am still hoping the Greenies will turn Green Team Pilipinas into a viable political party,and since there were 5 million of us who voted for him, even if only a million would solidly form the grassroots of his party, it could be a transformative force in our society. Teodoro rose above petty politics and tried to focus the electoral campaign on issues and he had clear policy ideas, and being a no-nonsense civil servant, his platform of governance could have been a step toward rationalizing our political system. One way of wresting power away from the oligarchs and their supported politicians is for people themselves to strengthen a political party that will carry their vision of governance. I was willing to give support, financial and otherwise to his campaign, but it seemed difficult to do so. Oligarchs have ready access to politicians and can easily buy them, but common people like me could have spoken louder had we organized more. I see hope in transforming our political system, but I think we should start working now and not only get active during elections.

    • ChinoF says:

      I think one thing is very clear among our Asian neighbors…

      They don’t have much of the “we Filipinos/(put in nationality) are superior, we don’t need them westerners or their methods or investments to succeed.” mentality. Here, we seem to have that attitude, and if you don’t agree, you’re “un-Filipino” daw. The anti-foreign nationalism seems to be falling apart in today’s time. Even Vietnam (after the American War) is going that way.

      I also believe that some other Asian countries allow you to carry your own culture if you want, but you are free to be individualistic as you want. Singapore gave me that impression. Otherwise, the nations where you might observe “individualism suppression” are mainly Muslim countries, or you might be mistaking laws that are actually being enforced for “individualism suppression.” I think we should look at more studies and be clear that “individualism suppression” is actually being practiced in other Asian countries, and that it has a clear effect on the nation’s prosperity.

      But what I agree with very much with this author… culture should never be exempted from criticism, simply because it is “culture” and people deserve to have it. There is a right and wrong culture… which would you choose?

      Glad to have another culture warrior aboard! 😀

      • BongV says:

        In 1885, the intellectual Yukichi Fukuzawa wrote the influential essay Leaving Asia, arguing that Japan should orient itself at the “civilized countries of the West”, leaving behind the “hopelessly backward” Asian neighbors, namely Korea and China. This essay certainly contributed to the economic and technological rise of Japan in the Meiji period but it may also have laid the foundations for later Japanese colonialism in the region.

        In 2010 – the Philippines never “left” 1800s Asia – stuck in a time warp of its own choosing. bloody idiots.

      • ChinoF says:

        Broken is the myth that Japan’s progress is because of “being closed” or “rejecting the west.” It was never closed, economically or culturally.

        Give an example of any country that is prosperous in spite of rejecting the west or is closed up.


        Cuba can’t even be an example of success because it’s depending on dole-outs from allied countries. It’s down.

        Close yourself up, be “nationalistic” or “anti-international…” at the risk of crashing into sorriness later on.

    • Hyden Toro says:

      Take the foreign influences that work for our benefits. Remove the ones not working. We have to have a mind of our own…nobody can decide for our interests, but us. If we let somebody decide for us…it will not be for our own interests…it will be for their own interests…If we don’t Stand for something and for ourselves. We will fall for anybody and anything…

      • Ben says:

        @ Dr. Jose Rizal II

        Those were the same things that people in Europe and America were saying about Japan in the 1980’s and it’s what they’re saying about China now. Acording to European and American “experts” Japan and China were supposedly only capable of limited and unsustainable development because their cultures suppressed indivual initiative, drive, and even worse lacked, individual creativity. So much for the experts.

        I’m still yet to find much evidence that Filipino culture actually does suppress excellence. Is this idea based on any actual studies, or is it some kind of accepted axiom based on nothing but anecdote?

      • BongV says:

        The feudal set up of Japan – and along with it – feudal Japanese culture suppressed individual initiatives. It was only after breaking up the feudal culture – and the economic structure which sustained it – did Japan unleash creativity.

        Breaking up the feudal economy – gave way to the capitalistic economic structure unleashed individual creativity. People were no longer working for the samurai, or the emperor, they were working for themselves.

        The Filipino economy is still semi-feudal – it has one leg in feudalism and another leg in mercantilism. That is the economic superstructure which promotes a feudal culture.

        It now boils down to to a conflict of cultures within the Philippine itself – the old feudal mindset – and the more outward looking global view. Culture and the economy – coffee and coffeemate.

      • BenK says:

        And how do you do an empirical study on something like “does the Philippine culture suppress excellence?”, Ben? Is not the evidence of your own day-to-day life sufficient (unless you don’t live here, in that case your confusion would be understandable)?

        Here’s my own bit of evidence — my teenage stepson coming home from school one day a couple weeks ago and informing his mother and I that he’s only aiming to rank third in his class at the next grading, so that his classmates don’t think he’s “showing off”.

      • Miriam Quiamco says:

        BenK:  I think your step-son’s underachieving tendencies do not represent the Filipinos in the academe, we are just as competitive and cutthroat as other students in other countries.  I recall a classmate in high school who almost had a nervous breakdown because she thought she would not be our valedictorian, well, she eventually became the valedictorian, so she was quite contented in the end.  

  2. ulong pare says:

    … daaang

    @AQ… you quoted ‘sang tambaks na foreign politico-economic analytical writers writing their theses about flipland… which is good and dandy… as we all know, flips would ignore that and rant racism… meddling in flipland internal affairs…

    … how about a (local) flipland HILOminati who has the guts to do the same? have you found any? include them naman in your quotes…

    … where are they? yoooOOOOooooo hooooOOOOOooooo…

    … according to flips HILOminatis, flipland is one of the mostestest bestestest educated pipol in the hole wide world… the turd oooopsie third country-clubbed englitzched spoklong…

    … da txting capital, the guinness world record holder of this and that, etchastera, etc…

    … dang, oh my… how could i miss dr pacquiao… my bad… (he got his PhD from Bisdak University) :mrgreen:

  3. Miriam Quiamco says:

    Interesting post because it cites heavyweights in the debate of the prominence of culture in economic development. But what about heavyweights in the importance of public policy in moving towards economic development irregardless of culture like Gerald Curtis of Columbia University who studied and wrote many books about the Japanese economic success. Chalmers Johnson, a James Fallows’ kindred spirit also puts the industrial policy of Japan as the core of its economic success. Having taught Japanese politics for years now, I am convinced it is public policy that makes the difference and not culture. Historical accidents too help, for all the astuteness of Samuel Huntington he failed to point out that Ghana and certainly the Philippines, though part of the victors’ camp on the part of the Philippines never received the massive amount of economic assistance both Japan and South Korea got from the U.S. after the war due to the Cold War. Western Europe too had the Marshall Plan. Manila was leveled to the ground due to American bombings towards the end of the war, to ferret out every hiding Japanese, the Americans spared nothing in its bombing campaign against the Philippines.

    And yet, during the San Francisco Treaty in 1951, Carlos P. Romulo was only given the chance to give a speech that all the country needed from the Japan was a sincere promise to mend its militaristic ways. Reparations were concluded in favor of Japanese economic interests. Japanese goods were given to the country as reparations, thus, paving the way for Japanese companies to conquer markets in its erstwhile enemies. Not only that, Japan surely saw the opportunity to wage another war on the economic front aided by the U.S. You have to credit Japan for its vision in seeing itself becoming an economic power to the disregard of military power and the U.S. helped Japan on this, shouldering its security needs so Japan could focus on economic reconstruction. Preferential treatment for South Korea on its exports to the U.S. and also for Singapore did figure big time in their economic development. While culture surely matters, public policy more than anything could bend culture. No other country in Southeast Asia could match the kleoptocracy of the Marcoses with the stolen wealth hidden in bank accounts abroad. Suhartos in Indonesia never did this. And thus, we are still cursed and it doesn’t help that the people we elect have no interest in public policy and only focus on mudslinging and in witch-hunting. This was why I strongly supported Teodoro’s candidacy, I saw in him the kind of leadership that pulled Japan and South Korea to its current economic status, but emo-politics prevailed.

    Someone ought to write a book: The Anatomy of Emo-Politics and analyze this cancer that is eating us all up. We need to focus on public policy rather than showbiz style politics, SONA was nauseating, the lawmakers brought their families and friends with them and worried more about fashion than substance of policy-making. The media succumbed too to the farcical processions of empty-headed politicians. Politics is a hard-core rational exercise, there should be no room for it in the trivialities that were accommodated in the last SONA. The SONA itself was hysterical shobiz performance, how are we getting out of this rut, I don’t think it is culture that is to blame, I think it is our defective political system. We need to shift to parliamentary form and become more issue-oriented in the conduct of our politics. Culture evolves once we have more educated populace, in other words, we need a good policy in education. Public policy is all and Japan believes in this, that is why over here, I get hired as a professor at universities to educate the young and transform the culture into a more international one rather than get bogged down in nationalism. Japan believes an international perspective is good for its economy, thus the ministry of education spends millions of dollars internationalizing its educational system.

    • ulong pare says:

      … daaang

      @mirriam q…i’m with you 99%… culture do not mold progress, it’s public policy… the enforcer/administrator of public policy guide the country to its destiny…

      … picture this:

      … prior to magellan’s discovery (kuno), the people of the lupang hinirang had a distinct culture already, having social and political intercourse with the malay-chinese-arabic traders…

      … next chapter: Spain ruled flipland for over four centuries… the padre damasos (enforcer/administrator) of public policy did nothing but to enslave the aborigines/people… using religion/occult, kept the people ignorant and instill the catholic dogma… which unfortunately, up to this day, flips cling to it like a squat holding on to its last bowl of rice…

      … next chapter: like a commodity , Spain sold flipland to ‘merka… and, for a short period of time, the americans as administrator of the public policy, transformed flipland into a li’l ‘merka… progress, ‘merkan style… except japan, flipland was the envy of the eastern world…

      … next chapter: world war… too many variables to posts…

      … post world war: flipland was handed the commonwealth form of government… without the ‘merkan hands-on public policy, the flip administrators, consumed with greed, reverted back to clan/tribal/familial fiefdom learned from padre damasos…

      … as the saying goes >>> the rest is history…

      … see, culture hadn’t play a role… it’s all molded by the administrator of the public policy…

      … ay sus ginoo… tama na… baka ako maubusan ng inles… need to withdraw from the recess of my skull to come up with more stuff… :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    • ricelander says:

      “No other country in Southeast Asia could match the kleoptocracy of the Marcoses with the stolen wealth hidden in bank accounts abroad. Suhartos in Indonesia never did this. And thus, we are still cursed and it doesn’t help that the people we elect have no interest in public policy and only focus on mudslinging and in witch-hunting…”

      That’s pretty damning, baby, LOL. But, remember what they say: a wrong accusation damns the accuser and glorifies the accused.

      The Marcos wealth issue remains a mystery for sure. But even the relative of Cory (Tanjuatco, was he?) whom she assigned clandestinely to run after Marcos, even visiting the old man in Hawaii, was not so sure anymore afterward. Imelda would tell you, look at the national budget from 1965 to 1986, anong nanakawin mo diyan! Marcos was stealing what– 1/3 or 1/2 of the entire budget? How in hell do you do that? But I would like a budget expert to explain how Marcos accomplished the trick. It would help us plug the holes…

      There’s a legal case in Hawaii the Marcoses lost. It was about the Golden Buddha of Rogelio Roxas, heard about that?. The Marcoses were ordered to pay Roxas a whooping $7B(?) for damages. Read through the case transcription if you could still find it through google. You will find clues.

      Nene Pimentel wanted to do right for the nation. As Senate blue ribbon committee chairman, he went to Hawaii to take Enrique Zobel’s testimony in a bid to get hold of Marcos’ so-called stolen wealth and reclaim it for the nation. It’s got a link on my blog post: Marcos Wealth: The Enrique Zobel Deposition. Read through the document. It’s a long one though.

      You are puzzled why Japan would receive more reparations from the US than the Philippines? Why indeed would a war enemy receive more favor than a loyal ally? It puzzles us too especially the war veterans. Get hold of a good book on Yamashita treasure. You will find enlightenment.


      • ricelander says:

        oops, censored hehe. It is Yamas. Hit a treasure. See if I got around that…

      • Miriam Quiamco says:

        Well, I say the Marcos kelptocracy is pretty obvious in the appraised value of the confiscated jewels of Imelda: 400 million dollars or a little less and these are only the confiscated ones, what about those that are still in the hands of the Marcoses, commercials building in New York, etc.. How do you explain our 30 billion dollar debt and below zero economic growth and zero foreign reserves.

        The Arroyo administration has definitely been petty thievery compared to this, but with economic growth, high foreign reserves, sound economic fundamentals under GMA, I am willing to be the apologist for the much maligned past administration . I feel sorry for this woman who worked so hard to deliver sustained economic growth to the country and is now the object of so much hatred and vitriol in the press and in the public sphere, it is consuming all space, there is no more rational debate on what really is needed to solve corruption once and for all. N/A is soooo full of drama. . .

      • ricelander says:

        P30B debt. As much as I could gather, it financed the most ambitious infrastructure spending yet ever undertaken in history. Part of it went to BNPP. Did your beloved GMA accomplish even a third as much? How much of our total debt now was contracted by GMA, btw?

        Zero economic growth and zero foreign reserves. That takes a longer discussion. That’s where policy comes in, your favorite advocacy; you need to study economic policies in that era, find out what went wrong. But you fall for the same line: kleptocracy did it, period. Is it not the same inspiration for “walang mahirap kung walang kurakot”? The dictator is long dead, you wonder, why is it getting worse? We have been comfortable with the knowledge that Marcos’ plunder was the culprit, nobody dared take a real good look at the policies. We thought things will get better because the thief was gone. But…

        About the only case where Marcos lost so far in the hundreds or so cases filed against them is the SC decision that says this was how much you earned in salary since joining the government, anything beyond that is ill gotten and it’s ours. Well I do not know about the wisdom of that. But to be fair, maybe they should use that as a standard for everybody. As far as I remember, Marcos offered to come home from exile to explain but Cory said no.

        Still, I am waiting for a government/budget experts to detail how Marcos did the trick.

      • BongV says:

        Sec 10, and 11, Article 12 – Philippine Constitution – Restrict economic freedom and you get… the Philippines

      • Miriam Quiamco says:

        Mr./Ms. Ricelander:

        My beloved president simply won the case against a foreign contractor who built the NAIA3 during Ramos’ time, here you can see the seriousness of GMA’s economic agenda. This airport would have been another elephant project had GMA’s administration relented in giving it focus. My beloved president is responsible for recovering 70% of the wealth PCGG tried for years to recover, okay the past efforts could have been responsible too for this success, but that in 9 years, this much was recovered is commendable. In addition, under the administration of my beloved president, only 2,100 people were victims of extra-judicial killings, still high, but in comparison to the over 20,000 dead during Marcos, you cannot say that things got worse under the administration of my beloved president. I personally knew people who were tortured and killed under Marcos, my hatred for him is tremendous, but I am not ready to impute his sins to his offspring who by what I have gathered so far, are doing a lot of good to our country.

        Things have gotten better under GMA, but no systemic change, of course, she was an economist and not a revolutionary. Gordon was right in describing her as a hardworking president but one who lacks political will. Marcos simply tolerated corruption, and nothing was left for the country. It was the economic collapse that toppled him and not the assassination of a popular politician. Life became intolerable for all classes, he and his cronies sent their money abroad to avoid getting ensnared in the economic collapse. The peso was worth almost nothing because of dollars being withdrawn from our coffers. He did have progressive policies, but the kleptocracy of his spouse, well, can’t refute the 400 hundred million dollar jewelry apprraisal, would you think these were all gifts, and these are just the tip of the iceberg, the rest could not be recovered as they are under multiple dummy names. I happen to know one person who was a dummy for Imelda, I used to work for his company in Makati and he was always out of the country, everyone later on found out, he went to Switzerland to deposit money for the Marcoses. No wonder he always had presidential security with him.

        Twenty years of this thievery really rendered us bankrupt, the second most vibrant economy in Southeast Asia could have taken off with right economic and political policies. Corruption would have been tolerated had Marcos not degraded the economy, but the fact remains, he did and GMA did not, even the World Bank, upgraded our economic status, something which we did not get after the Marcos regime and he had plenty of time to show results, he bankrupted the economy instead. My beloved president inherited a dismal economy under Estrada, she turned it around, and gave us sustained (this is crucial) economic growth, that I am proud of. Under her regime, we are not made to pay for interests of a snowballed project (Bataan Nuclear Power Plant) to the tune of 300 thousand dollars a day! Not only that ODA (official development assistance) from Japan in the form of loans, at least 70% of this went to Marcos cronies so that contracts could be awarded to Japanese companies bidding for projects, this is well documented not just in one but many books written by scholars. These loans pocketed by the cronies and relatives of FL are to be paid on the backs of our starving masses.

        The administration under my beloved president could not possibly match this level of corruption as she has results to show for her hard work. I beg to disagree that things got worse under her oversight. The NBN-ZTE deal never materialized, no one benefited from it, so as BenK has written why spend millions on investigating it when no crime was ever committed.

      • ulong pare says:

        … daaang

        … @mirriam q:. your beloved prez could have/should have attended more prayer breakfasts, tirik ng kandila in every simbahan sa kanto and a special mass, herr ratzinger, presiding…

        … only then that i believe your beloved prez’ halo… :mrgreen:

    • Dr. José Rizal II says:

      Miriam, nice views…

      I have to say thought that Anthony is absolutely right that Culture is a major determinant, if not THE MAJOR ONE… All others taken equally, let’s say all countries adopted the same policies, those with cultures that put self discipline over happy-happy are likely to be more successful.

      Here’s a test scenario. Let’s say the Germans and the Spaniards did exactly the same things. All decisions, laws, policies, etc were the same… No policy difference. You will find that the Germans will still end up more economically successful than the Spaniards.

      In other words, Culture is the final determinant, while sound policies can and will help in making a difference. The best and most helpful policies, in other words, are the ones that also seek to improve the culture of a country – the kinds which cause people who were perhaps “lazy” to become more diligent, for instance. We can see that in the case of Malaysia, for instance, the Culture of the Bumiputras and ethnic Malays is like that of Pinoys, very happy-happy and fiesta-oriented, in contrast to the more serious and diligent ethnic Chinese.

      When Mahathir became Malaysia’s prime minister, his policies were aimed at changing the culture of the Malays and other Bumiputras so that instead of simply making correct macro-economic policies, many of his policies eschewed welfare/largesse and instead had more to do with giving out generous student loans or educational/training opportunities. Sure, there was still a “preferential treatment” for the indigenous Malays and Bumiputras, but these were not freebies and instead they forced them to learn to compete among the immigrant races such as the Indians and the Chinese in Malaysia.

      You’re very much on the same page with Anthony in many respects, and I think that you will agree ultimate that policies CAN CHANGE CULTURES in order to make those cultures become more compatible with progress and economic success.

      The Japanese, in many ways, already had that competitive and perfectionist culture even before the Westernization movement of the Meiji Restoration, so essentially, most of the changes were more in line with form and superficial manifestations like fashion, music (Western classical music), architecture, and of course, use of Western science and technology. But the core culture of Japan’s people of being intensely serious about being a master of one’s craft (or continuously being better: Kaizen) was already there. The situation with Filipinos, on the other hand, is that we need to work on that, because most of our people are happy-go-lucky, so more effort goes towards enjoyment rather than working to make things better.

      The key really is “all others taken equal” and in AP most authors assume “ceteris paribus.” In Anthony’s case this is very clear. Between two cultures that adopt the exact same policies, the culture that is more focused on achieving success and maintaining self-discipline will always win out over a culture that is more happy-go-lucky.

      It’s also worth noting that cultures that are self-disciplined and more focused on success are – by their nature – going to be more likely to seek out the right policies to begin with. Sometimes, these cultures get sidetracked like China during the Cultural Revolution or pre-Bakumatsu Japan which decided it didn’t really want to learn from the outside world. But sooner or later, when reality bites, they also get jolted into the realization that they’re so far behind, and so they suddenly decide to get their act together, and that gets them adopting THE RIGHT POLICIES.

      The Philippines, on the other hand, is too happy-go-lucky. So even if we are already Asia’s sick man, far too many Filipinos prefer not to admit this and instead are in a constant state of denial. No amount of telling them that we need to shift our policies in order to improve our society is going to get them changing how they do things.

      If, on the other hand, Filipinos had a more “striving for perfection” type of culture like the Japanese (or even the Chinese), then the Philippines would likely be adopting THE RIGHT POLICIES anyway.

      See how Culture ends up becoming the key determinant?

      • Miriam Quiamco says:

        You see Jose Rizal, the public policies of Mahathir were able to transform the slothful Malays, they were meant precisely to transform them into productive and competitive members of Malay society. Public policies worked in Malaysia too. Gerald Curtis argued that the Japanese were just as fatalistic and lazy during the Tokugawa regime, why, there was no incentive to succeed. Early writings of Americans about them indicated just the same easy-go-lucky people, no work ethic and would spend whatever meager earnings they had on booze and women, in other words, totally irresponsible. The Meiji leaders came up with the right public policies to rally the nation behind a “catch up with the west” ideology and thus, made the Japanese intensely nationalistic upon realization of the superiority of the west, each one was willing to give their life to the emperor to achieve greatness for the country.

        I think this is more historical coincidence rather than an intrinsic virtue of hard work and perseverance that is unique to the Japanese. Japan was eager to learn from the west and their elites went abroad to study what made the West more superior to Japan, and adapted their modern tenets of governance and politics. The elites in Japan had the foresight, they recorded how hardworking Americans were and how goal-oriented compared to the Japanese, and thus, they resolved to transform Japanese culture through public policies. Lifetime employment policy by companies has made the Japanese work hard for common goals.

        Once policy on corruption, exactly the one Teodoro envisioned and on government efficiency, on education and on the promotion of key industries, our country could have been transformed. We could rant till kingdom come about corruption, without proper government policy, no one would get snagged by the law. Teodoro envisioned a two-pronged policy against corruption, but all the media saw in him was a Gloria lapdog and a puppet. The media failed to elucidate policies we need to transform our culture of governance, is it culture to blame or is it our faulty political system. Say it is culture, I think that we should all agree the cultural transformation we seek can be achieved by a change in our political system. We should shift to parliamentary form to have efficient public policy making like Japan, Malaysia and South Korea. Our masses are too ignorant and the mass media have failed the country massively by its failure to focus on policies rather than pedigrees of politicians. We all know, these popularity surveys are meaningless, N/A has no plan for the country. And so, to answer PhilManila, I think we need to shift to parliamentary form of government, we need to lobby with senators, and as BongV suggested, we need to push for constitutional revision.

        We cannot afford to waste billions of pesos on elections that elect only the most incompetent because of the ignorance and gullibility of the masses and the religious elites. There are enlightened Filipinos that need to have access to levers of powers just like the elites in Japan, the Japanese parliamentary system makes these elites accountable to the people, their policies that don’t produce results will spell doom to their political ambitions. The focus during elections is policy, policy, policy, not who is the son of this and that, well, there is that too, but that is not the focus, that is why we need to lobby with Miriam Santiago who is going to be the head of constitutional affairs to seriously consider the shift to parliamentary system. We need this now more than ever.

      • BongV says:

        but before Mahathir can do his magic – he needed people with a certain cultural predisposition – otherwise he wouldn’t wind up in the position of authority which allows him to bring home the bacon.

      • Hyden Toro says:

        Kleptocracy and Feudal Oligarchy are always with us. Even during the Spanish Colonial times. The Spanish Rulers, and the Spanish Friars were all corrupt. We have made them our Role Models. We have a Filipino Culture of Patronage…Political Patronage, mostly.

        Unless, we can understand these things imbeded in our Psyches. No amount of “Pagbabago” will work. It will always be: Lip Services; Useless Slogans; Useless Political Gimmicks,; Kelptocrazy; Political Opportunism; etc…No amount of studies and researches will work. Because, the trouble lies in all of us…we, ourselves alone, can help ourselves…nobody will do it, for us…

      • ulong pare says:

        … daaang

        @Hyden T: mi great great great granpa conos initially called the pearl of the orient seas as “LAS ISLAS DE LOS LADRONES”

        … t’was true then, as it is now…

        … talk about “culture” ha? :mrgreen:

      • Miriam Quiamco says:

        Mahathir is a product of a parliamentary system of government. . .

    • Phil Manila says:

      “to educate the young and transform the culture into a more international one rather than get bogged down in nationalism. ”

      Good, studied, well-thought of, take on things, Ms. Miriam. 😀

      What do you think? Should we reverse engineer the Pinoys’ psyche so that we become less international and more into ‘nationalism’ through education, building trust and confidence in our leaders and institutions, helping provide better economic opportunities at home, etc. 🙂

      Or, we could take the easy way out and, altogether now,

      RANT! RANT! RANT! 8)

      • ChinoF says:

        so that we become less international and more into ‘nationalism’…

        And lead to Pinas becoming like NoKor. Baaaaaaaad. 😉

      • Miriam Quiamco says:

        Yeah, I agree, PhilManila, Japan could afford to be nationalistic at a time when globalization was not the norm, we have been nationalistic too, but only in the promotion of the self-serving interests of the oligarchs. We don’t want to be North Korea, we seem to be heading that way with a monolithic view of support for the bankrupt presidency of N/A, not because of violent coercion, but by the subtle manipulation of the media. The color yellow is pushing everyone to be blind, deaf and mute in what should be said of the shenanigans of the N/A presidency. There is definitely self-censorship going on in the country these days because the memories of Cory are holding us hostage and we cannot move forward. Every Aquino who aspires for public office has to be given that opportunity as there is that unabashed expropriation of the yellow legacy. North Korea is the same, they have a supreme leader and everyone looks up to him for solutions to their problems, never mind that they are getting screwed and the members of the government are enjoying the life of comfort they can only dream of having, kinda like the showbiz elite lifestyles, no wonder, this form of pomp was tolerated during SONA.

      • NFA rice says:

        @Phil Manila

        Countries have become interdependent because not one country can produce all the goods that it needs. Each country has its own comparative advantage and as of now, our comparative advantage is the mass-production of cheap nurses and domestic helpers. If we follow your “less international” path, we would be having these nurses and domestic helpers sent back back home, flooding the domestic market with excess labor. What use is this excess labor if it is not generating income. Our nurses are destined for international consumption because they can inject more money into our economy. Besides we have a nationalistic/protectionist constitution that is not working. Do we want to be more nationalistic and be like Zimbabwe or North Korea?

        What comparative advantage has other countries to offer us? Well there is the transfer of technology, proper training of our people, better infrastructure, and diversification of the domestic market. So we are not just producing nurses and domestic helpers, but also scientists, engineers, architects, and more businessmen. Not putting all the eggs in one basket as they say. Then we have an economic regime where money is not concentrated in the oligarch’s pockets.

        Am I ranting? Maybe. But it’s good to voice my opinion here. And besides, we already have lots of academics “criticizing and advising” the government. But is the government taking their advice? No. The “rantings” of AP serves to add to the volume so that the government can finally hear.

      • Phil Manila says:

        ” as of now, our comparative advantage is the mass-production of cheap nurses and domestic helpers. ”

        Fair enough. But the sad reality is the OFW phenomenon has turned, from being a STRENGTH, to becoming a WEAKNESS, as successive administrations depended on the export of cheap labor, and attendant remittances bonanza, to prop up the economy instead of making the required policy changes in trade, investment, and financial regimes to attract investors (foreign and domestic) to create employment in the Philippines. 😯

        The OFW migration not only ‘brain-drained’ the country, as Filipino technicians, geologists, scientists (even that famous PAGASA weather guy in now working for Australia 😥 ), etc. to leave in droves but also allowed the departure of unskilled workers, always subject to abuse, now a big problem for the government. 😦

        They say hindsight is always 20/20. But wouldn’t things been better if the Pinoys stayed home? 8)

      • BongV says:

        @Phil – one word – “Protectionism” – if the Constitution will prevent jobs from coming in – Filipinos will go to where the jobs are. Can’t have the cake and eat it too. Open up or lose the best.

      • NFA rice says:

        @Phil Manila
        It would be better if Filipinos lived their lives to the fullest at home and need not be separated from their families. The problem in the country is that there is not much opportunity available for millions of us. Why? Because our economy is not diversified, the rule of the oligarchs is limiting the purchasing power of the Filipino. How much of the average income is spent on basic infrastructure like electricity and water, and daily needs like food. The weak consumer is suppressed from expanding her demand because of low purchasing power. When there is less demand for other things, the economy becomes monolithic and less adapted to stress.

        The OFW phenomenon is a result of adaptation to the limited opportunity. Salaries at home are not enough because of the high price to pay for living. So Filipinos naturally seek greener pastures where they earn more and attain a higher purchasing power when incomes are spent in the homeland. The net result is that the Philippines become a consumer economy, instead of a balance between consumption and production.

        How make Filipinos stay at home? Simple. Increase competition within the economy to drive prices down. Let prospective employers come to the Philippines instead of Filipinos moving to their employers.

      • Hyden Toro says:

        Control of the Media by the Oligarchs; or some Political factions of our society: is MORE DANGEROUS than CENSORSHIP. A non biased source of Media Information must be started. That will serve the interests of all Filipinos. This is the Antidote to the POISON; the Oligarch’s Media Network has put in place. If we don’t correct this wrong : our MINDSETS will always be manipulated under their influences. They promote what works for their interests. They support candidates that will work for their interests. They will control informations; that will work for their interests. And; they will deliberately remove informations that are against their interests.

        The election of an imbecile President, like Noynoy Aquino is the result of what I’m talking about. The promotion of “poverty minded” programs are used to entertain people; to forget their miseries…see how many people has been lining up to see the cancelled Wowoowee, at unholy hours?…just to win prizes?…see how these hosts are glorifying poverty?…we got, what we deserve…the same show formats; are in the new programs, they have put in place. With the imbecile President sister: that Seductress/Adulterer Kris Aquino is one of the hosts. Kris Aquino is not a good role model for the young…

      • BongV says:

        It depends on what you are “ranting” about.

        when a house is on fire – what’s the first thing you do?

        you sound the alarm – FIRST!

        you don’t just start hosing without knowing where to hose – that’s ABSURD.

  4. ricelander says:

    Excellent post, i must say, and you are a nurse?

  5. Dee says:

    Great post. It makes me so sad for my country. One time I learned in the news that in South Korea, the government and employers have to really make an effort to encourage employees to take a break and have a vacation because Koreans are so workaholic. Many Koreans refuse and would rather work than go on vacation. See, if Philippines has the workaholic culture of South Korea, productivity will so increase boosting up the economy. But nope, Filipinos like to go on vacation a lot. There are so many holidays, so many fiestas, so many wasted hours.. But then again, who would want to work long hours if you have a horrible job with a meager salary? Filipinos aren’t lazy. There are so many hardworking FIlipinos abroad. But something is just really wrong with the culture and tradition in the country.

    Although I agree that culture matters, I also agree with Miriam that it is public policy that’s more important for a turnaround. If you improve economic conditions, culture can definitely change for the better.

  6. Markad says:

    However, the change of culture is a complex process. As have been written, there must be a general acceptance of what have to be fixed.

    A thorough analysis and breakdown of our culture could single out aspect of our cultures that should be changed. I think there are many academes that have tried to present their paper regarding this already.

    In fact, my psychology professor in the university has a paper about creating a positive change in our culture. It involves the emphasis of the better side of our culture and drawing the line of where the aspect of culture start and end.

  7. sam raya says:

    This was forwarded to our egroup mailbox, and i thought — if you yourself have not yet read this elsewhere — that “sentiments” like this ought to be widely disseminated so that the possible thousands (? millions?) of fellow Filipinos out there would know that “hindi sila nag-iisa”.

    Subject: A Letter From A Brave Filipina

    Very interesting letter. Share this with your friends and associates who still honestly believe that our beloved Philippines is worth saving. I salute the person (Remedios C. Paningbatan) who wrote this letter.

    To all Filipinos Everywhere:

    I used to think that corruption and criminality in the Philippines were caused by poverty. But recent events tell me this isn’t true. It is one thing to see people turn into drug addicts, prostitutes, thieves and murderers because of hunger and poverty, but what excuse do these rich, educated people have that could possibly explain their bizarre behavior? And to think I was always so relieved when petty snatchers got caught and locked away in jail because I never fully realized that the big time thieves were out there, making the laws and running our country.

    Every night, I come home & see these “honorable” crooks lambast each other on TV , call each one names, look each other in the eye and accuse the other of committing the very same crimes that they themselves are guilty of, is so comical and apalling that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    I have never seen so many criminals roaming around unfettered and looking smug until now. These criminals wear suits and barongs, strut around with the confidence of the rich and famous, inspire fear and awe from the very citizens who voted them to power, bear titles like “Honorable”, “Senator”, “Justice”, “General” and worse, “President”. Ironically, these lawless individuals practice law, make our laws, enforce the law. And we wonder why our policemen act the way they do! These are their leaders, and the leaders of this nation – Robin Hoodlum and his band of moneymen. Their motto? “Rob the poor, moderate the greed of the rich.”

    It makes me wonder what kind of schools they went to, what kind of teachers they had, what kind of environment would produce such creatures who can lie, cheat and steal from an already indebted country and from the impoverished people . It makes me wonder what their children and grandchildren think of them, and if they are breeding a whole new generation of improved Filipino crooks and liars with equally negligible conscience. They all go to mass & receive communion! Heaven forbid!

    I am an ordinary citizen and taxpayer. I am blessed to have a job that pays for my needs and those of my family’s, even though 30% of my earnings go to the nation’s coffers. I have complained time and again because our government could not provide enough of the basic services that I expect and deserve. Rutty roads, poor educational system, poor social services, poor health services, poor everything. But I have always thought that was what all third world countries were all about, and my complaints never amounted to anything more.

    We see Scandalous government deals. Plundering presidents pointing fingers. Senators associated with crooks. Congressmen who accept bribes. Big time lawyers on the side of injustice. De Venecia ratting on his boss only after his term has ended, Enrile inquiring about someone’s morality! The already filthy rich Abalos and Arroyo wanting more money than they or their great grandchildren could ever spend in a lifetime. Joker making a joke of his own “pag bad ka, lagot ka!” slogan.. Defensor rendered defenseless. Gen. Razon involved in kidnapping. Security men providing anything but a sense of security. The average Juan de la Cruz could not even imagine in his dreams. Is it any wonder why our few remaining decent and hardworking citizens are leaving to go work in other countries?

    They say the few stupid ones like me who remain in the Philippines are no longer capable of showing disgust. Many like me feel anger at the brazenness of men we call our leaders, embarrassment to share the same nationality with them, frustration for our nation and helplessness at my own ineffectuality. It is not that I won’t make a stand. It is just that I am afraid my actions would only be futile. After all, these monsters are capable of anything. They can hurt me and my family. They already have, though I may not yet feel it..

    I am writing this because I need to do something concrete. I need to let others know that ordinary citizens like me do not remain lukewarm to issues that would later affect me and my children. I want to make it known that there are also Filipinos who dream of something better for the Philippines . I want them to know that my country is not filled with scalawags and crooks in every corner, and that there are citizens left who believe in decency, fairness, a right to speak, a right to voice out ideas, a right to tell the people we have trusted to lead us that they have abused their power and that it is time for them to step down. I refuse to let this country go to hell because it is the only country I call mine and it is my responsibility to make sure I have done what I could for it.

    We can pray.. After all, they cannot be more powerful than God!

    I implore mothers out there to raise your children the best way you can . I beg all fathers to spend time with their children, to teach them the virtues of hard work, honesty, fair play, sharing, dignity and compassion – right from the sandbox till they are old enough to go on their own. Not just in your homes, but at work, in school, everywhere you go. Be good role models.

    I call on educators and teachers – . . Instill in them love of their country,, help us mold our children into honorable men and women. Encourage our graduates, our best and brightest, to do what they can to lift this country from the mire our traditional politicians have sunk us into. The youth is our future – and it would be largely because of you, our educators, that we will be able to repopulate the seats of power with good leaders, presidents, senators, congressmen, justices, lawmakers, law enforcers and lawful citizens.

    I ask all students, young people and young professionals everywhere to look around and get involved .. . YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU! Let your voices be heard. Text meaningful messages to awaken social conscience. Try your best to fight moral decay because I promise you will not regret it when you become parents yourselves. You will look back at your past misdeeds and pray that your children will do better than you did.

    Remember that there are a few handful who are capable of running this country.. You can join their ranks and make their numbers greater. We are tired of the old trapos. We need brave idealistic leaders who will think of the greater good before anything else. Be good lawyers, civil servants, accountants, computer techs, engineers, doctors, military men so that when you are called to serve in government, you will have credibility and a record that can speak for itself.

    For love of this country, for the future of our children, , I urge you to do what you can. As ordinary citizens, we can do much more for the Philippines than sit around and let crooks lead us to perdition. We owe ourselves this. And we owe our country even more.

    Remedios C. Paningbatan
    Administrative Officer
    Office of the General Counsel
    Asian Development Bank
    Tel (632) 632-4248

    • ChinoF says:

      I’ve seen this before. Sadly, her solution is “panakip-butas” only. We can educate our children as much as we can… including teaching them to be assertive rather than submissive to our damaged culture… but it’s a temporary solution. Her advice is only more like, “deal with it, you can’t change anything.” We can educate our children, then they get educated by someone else, like media… it all falls down the drain.

      A lot of changes really have to be made. I would believe that government system change runs parallel to culture change. And both must be pursued at the same time.

      If only Mrs. Paningbatan said, “teach your children that our Constitution is flawed, that protectionism has contributed to making the country poor, and that if they all unite and call for change to the Constitution, they may succeed and help lead to a better Philippines this way,” then her letter would be much better. 😀

      “…Be good lawyers, civil servants, accountants, computer techs, engineers, doctors, military men…” In other words, be good employees and servants to the oligarchs rather than movers and shakers of true change. Para wala nang pagbabago.

      • ChinoF says:

        But this part of Mrs. Paningbatan’s advice is good… “I ask all students, young people and young professionals everywhere to look around and get involved… YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU! Let your voices be heard.”

        Exactly what we’re doing here in AP. 😉

        But to some, letting your voice be heard is “ranting.” 😛

      • GabbyD says:

        is AP about “get(ting) involved”?

        paningbatan didnt write this, although she says she agrees with it.

      • ChinoF says:

        Aha… that’s what I should have asked. If Mrs. Paningbatan wrote this. I suspected she didn’t. Thanks for letting us know, GabbyD. I just found her clarification on it.

        We’re getting involved by voicing out here. And people are reading.

      • mel says:


        As I read the letter above, my first impression was: ADB Administrative Officer wrote this? I read it before but forgot the site. Thanks for the link and the clarification.

  8. finally an introspective post about our people beyond the surface value of politics. we are, indeed, a damaged culture because the few minority who hold more clout in influential sectors of the country are still hung up on martial law. the excessive trait discussed here is evident in our attempts as a people to always romanticize issues at the expense of discipline. when journalists cite in a news item a foreigner who’s become a citizen, the person is not cited as a Filipino. Instead, they cite him/her as something else — as Indian, American or Korean. The person should be cited as a Filipino. Same thing with religion. When a person who practices Islam figures in a news report, that person is interestingly cited as a Filipino Muslim. Why can’t he/she be cited as a mere Filipino? And in politics, those in the party list, senate or any politician who’s not associated with the president always tend to criticize the government as if they are not part of the government. We as a people are suffering from victim complex and this is being propagated by influential personalities in the media, making the diagnosis worse.

  9. ako ang simula ng pagkabobo says:

    teleseryes have taken over the afternoon slots.

    And now, slowly but surely, showbiz-oriented shows are taking over morning slots.

    And with lenghty game shows in between,


    • I’m not surprised by the full effort on image-building by the government because the government understands its supporters (mainly the 40% of Filipinos who voted for Noynoy) and the 30%+ more who did not. The government understands the prevailing culture in the country which is about having victim complex (over-romanticism, false humility, sacrificing to a fault, blame game, etc.) that’s why all its efforts are targeted at building on this culture. The masses are responsive. Besides, the results — unity and popularity — are what matter. Bonding is the important thing over what’s right for the country. Kaya nga doing what’s right in the Philippines is almost always subject to tsismis or suspicion. Real hard work is often mistaken for selfishness or corruption. It’s alright to make a series of blunders as long as you are humble to admit the errors and blame the weather or someone else like the brownout. and 40% (not a majority vote) of charisma-loving Filipinos have elected the epitome of such damaged culture. congratyerrrrlashennnns to us all!

    • Miriam Quiamco says:

      This is the saddest part of the moronism in mass media, billions and billions of pesos are spent on dumbing down the general populace. Over here in Japan, TV programs are dumb too, as their scholars would love to point out, but there is no comparison to the teleserye-centric programming on television on our land. Dumb as the shows in Japan may be, they at least make people aware of the issues confronting the nation. Afternoon shows are not centered on TV dramas, some stations may have them, but the major ones, have talk shows that bring up issues of importance, political, social and cultural. There are lots of cooking shows and travel shows showing progressive programs in other countries.

      But most important of all, they have a state television which covers governmental news without malice or favor, NHK is competitive to its commercial counterparts. It broadcasts important stories that confront the nation, it broadcasts live proceedings in parliament, a budget committee is being questioned by other parliamentarians about each item in the budget and members of parliament take turns in asking and answering questions. The prime minister himself can be seen with his cabinet answering questions of the other members of parliament. A Bello type of character assassination would not have tolerated in such a set-up and the Japanese people themselves would be soooo disgusted by such grandstanding, he would surely lose or his party if he were a party leader would surely lose in elections with such display of immaturity and lack of self-control.

  10. Phil Manila says:

    @ NFA Rice,

    Again on hindsight, the OFWs in a way saved the day for ruling elte.

    And I agree on the consumerist result. The OFWs’ billion dollar remittances not only propped up the economy, but also created trilions of pesos in business opportunities for the economic oligarchs: subdivisions, condominiums, TFC channels, telecom pre-paid cards/calling plans, remittances cum banking accounts, colleges and universities, educational plans, etc. etc.

    Without the OFWs, the economy would have tanked creating the perfect storm for social unrest, even a revolution.

    Tunay na Bagong Bayani nga. Para kanino?

    • BongV says:

      @PhilManila – which brings us full circle – the OFWs have the opportunity to build more wealth BUT – there are cultural nuances that serve as obstacles:

      1. having to subsidize extended families – being a “padrino” – bringing the dividends of higher job pay (which was deprived of them by the oligarchs in the first place) not just to the immediate family but to extended family as well.

      2. a consumerist culture among the recipients of the remitted funds. these fuels the buying sprees of real estate – being sold by and developed by the oligarchy.

      3. the continuous reinforcement of dysfunctional cultural norms – ABS-CBN/TFC/GMA7 are aggressive chasing the OFW dollars. The OFWs choices of entertainment remain stunted – the noveau middle class Pinoys with all their BMW and designer clothes are are easily given away by TFC/ABS-CBN/GMA7 – you can take the jolog out of the barrio – but can’t take the barrio out of the jolog.

      All these saved the elite from the shrinking disposable income of the left-behind flips. Which should really get the elite thinking – while their market share may decrease due to competition – but their bottom lines may actually benefit from a freed market economy.

      As of the moment – the Philippines is a semi-feudal state that is using socialistic measures – it has the worst ownership regime (oligarch-centric) topped off by a highly restrictive (protectionist) investment regime – it’s a double whammy.

      Which brings us back to the constitution – Sec 10 and 11, Art 12.

      • NFA rice says:

        I am tempted to stop my remittances just to make a point. I wish all OFW’s stop sending money and let the chips fall where they may. Revolution. Create a new society.

      • ulong pare says:

        … daaang

        … @NFA r: remittance actually make me self supporting… i don’t need the flipgov for anything…

        … without flipgov, life is good… with govt involvement, it’s bad… very bad… :mrgreen:

    • NFA rice says:

      @Phil Manila,
      I was nationalistic when I was a student. I thought that foreign capitalists are evil people and that Filipino businessmen are underdogs that are meant to be protected from the foreign greed. When I started supporting a family and pay taxes, I realized how wrong I was. I was a pig that voted for fiesta.

      • BongV says:

        @NFArice – same here. Let me share an email thread I got recently from a friend who is more or less in the “cultural” sector .

        The Issue – Oppose the Sale of Agus and Pulangui

        By June 2011, the Agus-Pulangui Hydro Electric Complexes will be up for sale and privatization. We believe that opening the complexes for privatization will be most disadvantageous to the people of Mindanao.

        But these benefits could be gone soon should the Agus-Pulangui Hydro Electric Complexes be privatized as mandated by the following provisions under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001.


        1. This will definitely lead to an increase in already exorbitant electricity rates.
        2. The low cost of electricity in Mindanao is due to the existence of the Agus -Pulangui Hydro Complexes. We cannot afford to lose this one competitive edge, which could be the only major come-on for investors to put up their businesses in Mindanao.
        3. There is a high Return On Rate Base (RORB). For 2008, the rate base current audited value of all NPC-Agus –Pulangui Hydro Complexes is PhP 14,327 billion. The net revenue is PhP 4,927 billion which gives an RORB of 39.66 per cent. At nearly 40 per cent, the rate of return is tremendous.
        4. We are afraid that, with the privatization and sale of the Agus-Pulangui complexes, the patrimony of Mindanao will be sold at a giveaway price to exploitative local conglomerates with foreign partners.
        5. Security of supply will be put at risk. NPC has been able to address quickly the sabotages and other security risks that are integral to the operation and maintenance of our power plants. On the other hand, NGCP, the concessionaire of our transmission lines, was unable to resolve the same problems quickly in 2008, conducting repairs only in 2009, compromising the supply to Davao and General Santos City, which experienced daily brownouts. Likewise, if the Agus-Pulangui complexes are privatized, crippling strikes may ensue. The employees have existing justified grievances.
        6. The Agus-Pulangui hydro systems are integral to the third agenda item in the GRP-MILF peace talks on ancestral domain. Control of territory and natural resources are vital elements in the negotiation. Privatization will stand in the way of a peaceful political settlement.

        More details and explanation in our petition letter. Please click the link, read, and sign your support to our campaign.

        The challenges in Mindanao are the challenges of the entire country. Ang sakit ng kalingkingan, ay sakit ng buong katawan.

        I replied:

        The issue here is not privatization – but protectionism.

        When a natural monopoly is privatized – given the absence of competition then prices will definitely rise. Opening up the ownership should not be limited to local but to foreign investors as well (like the retired navy man who can only afford $20,000 – but there’s like a thousand of them).

        The reason that foreign companies have to partner with local companies is due to the 1987 Constitution – Sec 10 and 11 of Article 12/ Under these terms – foreign investors cannot own more than 40% – therefore – the foreign investors have been given a very bad name by the local monopoly businesses.

        It is precisely the presence of these provisions which restrict competition – and keep the market a prey for predatory local-foreign joint ventures. change the constitution and remove these restrictive provision – we need more economic freedom – not less.

        Remember – economic power is the basis of political power. Economic freedom is the lifeblood of political freedom. Strangle economic freedom and you strangle political liberties. We had it all wrong. We have been played.

        And I got this reply.

        Bong, thanks for this.

        This is a whole paradigm shift and needs a lot of discussion among the members of the organization, so…..but it certainly needs an audience. It’s like what Mac Tiu, a veteran of the martial law days, is more or less saying–enough of that socialist bullshit, capitalism is the only system that has survived well through the centuries.

        So yes, I agree with both you and Mac but…..we need the entire movement to agree first before a major shift in consciousness, and therefore alternatives, can find its way into our current campaigns.

      • Miriam Quiamco says:

        BongV, the reality is that N/A wants privatization without the constitutional revision, so it is going to be privatization based on oligarch/MNCs, or 60/40 scheme, which certainly limits competition. This has to be discussed and studied, certainly some Latin American countries have already tried opening up vital utilities sector to open foreign competition, this means leaving an entire area in need of basic services such as water, electricity, gas at the mercy of decision-makers based abroad who may only care about their bottom-line, I know there is no reversing the trends of globalization, but as we have seen in the U.S., an unregulated financial system could prove disastrous to ordinary citizens as corporations could be totally unethical and unaccountable for their actions.

        But even Russia is going for privatization, sure Russia could afford to do this, it is a strong state and foreign companies investing in Russia had better be careful not to annoy the state, or they will lose their investments altogether. Does our country have the balls to make MNCs accountable for their actions. I guess, legislation could accommodate all the issues attendant to complete opening up of the economy. I think this should only be for vital public services and not for the agricultural sector.

      • BongV says:

        @miriam – people are so used to having a win/lose scenario – they have this belief that either (the foreign investors win and they lose) or (they win and the investors lose). Finding a win-win proposition will not be given on a silver platter – if people don’t know how to negotiate they’ll be eaten alive. It’s a business not a charity. Pinoys need to step out of this mendicant mentality and step up to the challenge of competition. it seems to be a carryover from the colonial days – a subliminal fear of the foreigner because in our not too recent past – people were pillaged, massacred, killed, it didn’t matter whether you are moro, igorot, or tagalog – we were all on these islands – and we all had a shared experience of brutal foreign occupation – which makes us averse to foreigners. like a brutalized woman – beat up and rape. but you can’t keep on playing the victim card – it gets tired. nations come and go. the ones that proved long-lasting are the ones that are able to pick up the pieces and move on. as the japanese put it “fall eight times, rise nine times”. we can’t hide forever. we need to shed the past – so we can claim ownership of our future. this fear of globalization allows the oligarchy to feed on our fears – and they wind up in the global fortune 500 – that wealth could have been a wider middle class and a smaller underclass .

      • ChinoF says:

        There you have it… Filipinos are so used to inequality that they are even afraid to break this pattern. Thus, the “win/win” concept by Stephen Covey seems alien to them. They’re used to the idea that, “if one must enjoy, another must suffer” – another danged false dilemma or dichotomy, reinforced by social class dynamics in the country. This has probably been one of the impetuses behind anti-foreignism in the Philippines. “If the other countries prosper, the Philippines is down… so if the Philippines prospers, other countries must go down…” in short, kagunggungan.

  11. PenoyBugok says:

    There are “dominant cultures” that has “invaded” several tribal cultures all over the archipelago. The Philippines is divided 7KPLUS times… ergo… we have 7KPLUS cultures… Before our Asian neighbors such as China and Japan became dominant economies they have undergone several cultural transformations… tribes dominating other tribes. We HAVE A CULTURE… and it is not a damaged one… My take is that we are still in a process of converging where the greedy landed rich and moneyed class dominates our society. Look at each provinces… we have the Marcoses, the Singsons, the Enriles on the north… the Ampatuans, Mangandatus in the south… Metro-Manila is ruled by the Ayalas and the Chinese Businessmen, the Gokongweis, Sys and the Tys; and the richie politicians such as Belmonte, Villars and Binays… mid Luzon is ruled by the Aquinos, Cojuangcos and the Lapuzes…

    … it is A ROTTEN CULTURE… OR A ROTTING CULTURE… not a damaged one…

  12. ulong pare says:

    … daaang

    … i intentionally lose my inborn “culture” decades ago… and replace it with something fluid and dynamic … so did my familia… my friends… neighbors… flips need to do the same, on their own terms… towards the betterment of the society…

    … if y’all sit on a corner and read volumes and/or listen to over paid lecturers, then bang the keyboards to post it in AP; discussed, argued, and tried to outdo each other by quoting the who’s who of the literary world, … then keep up the good work., y’all… :mrgreen:

    … the very same thing i find in articles here in AP… “quotes” from the so-called famous and infamous… i am not impress, but good reading, nonetheless…

    … i perused volumes of theses written by so called SMEs… i found them convoluted and one-sided based on their personal likes and dislikes… their personal opinions injected with their own belief somewhat distorted the reality of life on hand… SMEs based their findings on written accounts of another SMEs which their accounts were based on somebody else’s…

    … i prefer raw materials… not edited, no embellishments… through will power and street smarts, roadblocks can be replaced or mitigated… result: propagate the good and useful, and discard the bad and wasteful…

    … ay sus ginoo… hay buhay… my lolo ko sa tuhod used to say, “parang buhay hipong alamang, paglukso, patay…”

  13. Hyden Toro says:

    We have to know the bad influences done, from our being Colonized; that became inherent in our culture. I will call a Spade; a dirty Shovel. And, not euphemize things. We have a lousy “Hispanic” culture.
    See how our towns, cities and agricultural lands; locations are? Same patterns, of locations, I’ve found in countries colonized in South America. The Town Propers are where the Landowners live. The Agricultural portion of the Towns are where the farmers( Indios) ; or providers of food live. They are classified in the hierarchy of classes, by locations. In any Spanish colonized country; the rulers were always the: Military, the Clergy and the Oligarchy. The Spanish colonialist controls all these sources of powers. This is a Feudal set up in our society. We continue to follow it.

    It is Insane to continue, such MINDSETs placed upon us by other people. It was placed there by people, who have their own political agendas. We don’t even know these people; who ordered us to live these ways. And, who required us, to remain in such Mindsets.

    We have to bring out all that are not working . Some sort of a National Catharsis. If we will know the things, we are doing wrong; then we can right them. Bring them all out. Face our own Demons. From there, we can begin to heal: our country; our National Psyche; and Ourselves. It is only when a Patient can accept his illness; that, he can begin to heal…there is no other way to do it…

    • Lorenz says:

      My friend, what we truly need is the intellect and wisdom of the illustrados and the patriotism and passion of the Philippine Revolution to come back. I wonder what would’ve happened if we won the brutal Philippine-American war and the first Republic prevailed. In the end, Americans rendered the efforts of the illustrados and revolutionaries useless.

      I think that we are reliving the past right now. Maybe this is how Spanish Philippines was when there were still no Rizal and no Bonifacio.

      • BongV says:

        when explained in terms of national karma – this unresolved issue will linger until the nation learns its lesson.

        what this moment in history is trying to tell us is this:

        * we are all in this 7,200 islands – and that by now it is called the Philippines

        * all of the inhabitants of these islands were subjected to different waves of invaders – much like the city-states of ancient greece were under siege from Persia.

        * but where the Greeks were able to repel the foreign forces – we did not

        * so here we are again – these same set of islands – its people under siege by an oligarchy – its chains secure around the Constitution

        * struggle unites nations – forges unity. but not until the enemy is seen for what it is – a common threat to all. this is the shared experience that will “bond” the people who will make up a nation.

        * people need to keep on spreading the word about what ails the Philippines – until we reach a tipping point.

        * then the quantitative changes become qualitative changes in the overall dynamics of this game called “change”.

        * by then the ability to remove the protectionist provisions and open the market will be available and work to free the market – through legal and constitutional means – even change the constitution and become a federal parliamentary form, even allow the Bangsa Moro its independence.

        * then maybe, by that time we can truly say – it is a constitution made and agreed to by all sectors not just the oligarchs – and then you can truly have a Philippines.

      • Hyden Toro says:

        You and I, and the other Bloggers are the Modern Day Illustrados…do you not agree? Colonized Filipinos did it with Newspapers during their time. We do it by Blog WebSites, Twitters, internets, cell phones,and other Mediums of Information Technology…The Cyberspace is still free in our country…Bash them!…Bash the Rascals heavily!!!… 😆 😆 😆

      • BongV says:

        @HT.. hell yeah.. you bet. 😆

  14. Lorenz says:

    One of the reasons why our culture is damaged is because of the Spaniards and Americans. Fallows mentioned it too. Never forget that. Unlike the Japanese and Chinese who have retained their culture and tradition despite foreign influences, we haven’t and we don’t know until now what and who is the Filipino. The Chinese have always remained Chinese and so do the Japanese. They have taken the good aspects of foreign influences. We on the other hand took the bad aspects of the Western world such as materialism, white supremacy (white skin is beautiful, black and brown isn’t), etc.

    • ChinoF says:

      I still hope we won’t blame foreigners only. Even the pre-Hispanic culture of our country has its many flaws. There’s a system of debt slavery, as well as the semi-feudal system of many tribes; I’ll quote William Henry Scott on this. Plus the “Indolence of the Filipinos” that we didn’t need to get from the foreigners. The tribes already had it. Let’s just connect the particular problems to the right particular causes, and not blame anything on one side only.

      However, I agree with your assessment on influences. We took the bad side of western influences easily… adding these to the bad side of the local culture of those times. Both east and west had feudal arrangements and social class divisions which are still remaining today. But we can even attribute to foreigners bringing us to the modern age… such as ideas on true democracy and freedom… let’s make the best of the right influences like this on our culture.

      • Lorenz says:

        The foreign influences did us more good than harm but many are not using the good aspects of foreign influences. Why? I really don’t know. I love the English language. It is because of this language that i have been able to widen my vision and perspective and come to experience the arts through literature, video games, and music. The vast information/knowledge and wisdom is available to us already unlike the unfortunate Burmese and even the Chinese (internet restriction until 18 and website/news censorship?? very stupid instead of protective if you ask me). We only need to look for it. Sadly, many people don’t and they are deceived and/or get contented easily.

        Look at the Japanese. Classical music is a big thing there and many are passionate on music and not just pop music but also orchestral. It was brought by the Americans to them. I know a lot of Japanese composers who compose great orchestral music. Here in the Philippines, i’m pretty sure only few Filipinos appreciate it. “Generic” and “mediocre” prevail here. Sigh… Even the awarding of national artists have controversies.

      • Lorenz says:

        I would also like to mention lack of support for Filipino writers of fiction, Filipino artists of comic books, Filipino orchestral composers, etc. However, I just read Neil Gaiman being impressed at the development of Filipino artists by utilizing Philippine mythology. his most favorite creature was the manananggal. He came here twice in the Philippines.

        “It wasn’t the first time that I was greeted with enthusiasm by fans but it was the first time that I saw that kind of commitment and that kind of volume. That began my enormously rewarding and enjoyable relationship with the Philippines. I was fascinated with the mythology and I wanted to give something back,” he said.

        “I think the stories are better…You are starting to see things emerging. What I think is great is that all of the fiction feels Filipino. Whether it’s social satire, whether it’s very personal or small, whether it’s horror or it evokes the magic, mystery, history or mythology or folklore of the Philippines, it feels uniquely Filipino but it is also now starting to feel like it’s ready to play on the world stage, which makes me happy,” Gaiman said.

        This is what i want to happen. There is hope.

      • Lorenz says:

        BTW, Neil Gaiman is a prolific English writer and artist.

      • ChinoF says:

        I loved Gaiman’s Sandman series. Very imaginative.

        Recall one of my own articles here about that? That Filipino comic writers and scientists are very much ignored. Thus, they look across borders for the support they need. i agree that this is unacceptable.

        I would attribute this to lack on economic opportunities for such writers and publishers. The tendency is for such writers and artists to take unrelated jobs, such as being technical or corporate writers, or graphic artists. Then they do some creative writing or artwork in their free time, like posting it on online literature or art sites, like Deviantart. But they could never make it into their main line of work, because there isn’t much of a market for their work. This is mainly because the people who could have become their market are poor. And there’s little opportunity (counting funding as well as market) for such creators to come out with their material after all.

        Thus, if the local market is opened up for foreigners, foreign publishers like DC, Marvel, Tokyopop, Harpercollins, Penguin and even smaller publishers could come in and give these creative people of ours jobs. And a chance to show their talents. The local publishers don’t give a damn for the great material our local creators could come out with.

        Again, it boils down to removing protectionism and cha-cha. 😉

  15. Glenn Lubang says:

    Hi Antong! Reading your post reminded me of one of my subjects in my masteral class where we discussed the Dr. Huntington’s book (The Wealth of Nations). I brought up to my professor my observation that most countries that were used to be part of the Spanish empire lags in terms of economic progress (South Latin America and our country). We had a very enlightening discussion on the topic. Sad to say, our country is in a poor state and it will take many decades before we can catch up with our neighbors. Hope to read more of your writings.

    • HusengBatute says:

      Does Huntington have a version of that or were you actually referring to the one by Adam Smith?

    • Miriam Quiamco says:

      Maybe you meant to write: Clash of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington, a classic in Political Science courses all around the world. The Wealth of Nations, another classic was by Adam Smith. . . can’t help being a teacher even here. . .

  16. J.B. says:

    The problem is not merely culture but the means to correcting this cultural defect in us is somewhat next to impossible.

    For example, we’ve seen kids raised in a good family and brought their good behaviour into their workplaces while working in a government institution. But their chastity wont last long as they would easily get infected by others.

    There was a city engineer in Davao who was chilling to death upon receiving a 20T bride offered to her. The following year, she was found out all smiling doing the same thing.

    Our culture breed Frankenstein and these monsters breed their own offspring to the perpetuity of monstrousity.

    • J.B. says:

      20T bribe* … silly typo

    • ChinoF says:

      The bribe may have come from patronage politics methods, or if from a private company, a lack of enforcement on anti-bribe laws. For me, changing the gov’t system can help in this.

    • BongV says:

      J.B. – same thing happened to us in DIPC – but we didn’t take the bribe. for one – there was USAID funds involved so we were more or less 35% higher than the equivalent government pay scale.

      if the pay wasn’t good – we wouldn’t even consider applying for the position because we earned more in our consulting gigs and had more control of our time.

      though, the representatives of the City Executives and City Council were receiving honorarium for their “services” to the Investments Board.

      Without the “honoraria” these executives and legislators will not give attention to investment legislation as well as fast-tracking the investment applications.

      This is supposed to be part of their jobs – they are already receiving a salary to render service to the public. But the moment they leave the confines of their organization – that’s like a taxicab meter – you have to pay honoraria. Can you just imagine how much is being wasted every time there is a collaborative inter-agency undertaking due to “honoraria”?

      It’s a culture of “honoraria” – it is institutionalized “lagay”.

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  18. ulong pare says:

    … daang

    … y’all can argue about culture and destiny thingies…

    … y’all can quote ang throw ‘sang tambaks the literary works into the mix… but… but…

    … the bottom line: education, discipline, perseverance and luck… (add, if it’s applies)

    … if you possess any combo, you eventually move up to the ladder…

    … in flip gung gong’s case >>> BAHALA NA ANG DIOS… :mrgreen:

  19. Anthony Quilon says:

    @ Miriam: Nice one!

    Jose Rizal is right, Miriam: “We are in the same page in many respects and that policies can change cultures in order to make those cultures become more compatible with progress and economic success.”

    And no doubt about it. Public policy is another major and important factor in economic development and human progress. We can also add geography, including climate and resource endowment, ideology, institutions, religion, the role of our political leaders, sheer luck, etc. I will write about them in the near future but the focus of my article is about culture and destiny.

    Let’s talk briefly about one these factors… Geography is another crucial factor in human progress, economic development, and its influence on culture as well (Remember the Riddle of Hispaniola in comparing the stark difference between Haiti and Dominican Republic which was expounded by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond in Collapse, his sequel to Guns, Germs, and Steel?).

    Jared Diamond , Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the New York Times bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel, made a very remarkable and compelling case about the role of geography in the unequal distribution of wealth and power and came up with the conclusion, “The striking difference between the long-term histories of peoples of the different continents have been due not to innate differences in the people themselves but to differences in their environment.” He argued that the unequal distribution of wealth and power among societies has been powerfully shaped by biogeographic factors and the environmental endowment of some societies. And it very clear that almost all the rich and advanced democratic countries are found in the temperate zone while the large majority of the poor countries are in the tropical zones. But even the experts also take note of the powerful influence of culture. Singapore, Hongkong, and Taiwan are in the tropics. Their success, according to them, which recapitulates that of Japan, suggests that Confucianism trumps geography as does the success of the many Chinese minorities succeed in tropical Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and the Japanese minorities in tropical Peru and Brazil regardless of the country’s leader and government’s policy.

    Jared Diamond also takes note of the potential power of culture: “Cultural factors and influences….loom large….human cultural traits vary greatly around the world. Some of that cultural variation is no doubt a product of environmental variation….but an important question concerns the possible significance of local cultural factors unrelated to the environment. A minor cultural factor may arise for trivial, temporary local reasons, become fixed, and then predispose a society toward more important cultural choices…their significance constitutes an important unanswered question.”

    Regarding your question: “But what about heavyweights in the importance of public policy in moving towards economic development…?” There are a couple of heavyweights that come to mind like Peter Berger, author of the Capitalist Revolution and Many Globalizations. He wrote about the impact of policy in the educational system. Stephen Lewis also mentioned the well-designed social and economic policies implemented by first three presidents of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama, Quett Masire and Festus Mogae. Dick Spring also wrote about the policies implemented by Prime Minister Sean Lamass in Ireland when Eamon de Valera got elevated to the Presidency (a largely ceremonial office) . During the debate that commenced in Irish policy circles between protectionism and free trade and, more generally, between economic conservatism and liberalization. Out of these debates emerged the government’s First Program for Economic Expansion in 1958. The report strongly advocated ending protectionism and moving to free trade and a more open economy. Almost the same thing that happened in Spain and Italy many years ago.

    But since you’re teaching at universities in Japan, how about Yoshihara Kunio, Professor of Asian Economic Development at the Faculty of Environmental Engineering in the University of Kitakyushu, Japan, and Professor Emeritus of Kyoto University. He is an international economics expert and has specialized in the economies of Southeast Asia. He’s also the author of The Rise of Ersatz Capitalism in South-East Asia, Japanese Economic Development, Building a Prosperous Southeast Asia, The Nation and Economic Growth, Philippine Industrialization, and his latest, Asia Per Capita — Why National Incomes Differ in East Asia.

    In 2006, he wrote a lengthy essay about Japanese’s Postwar Economic Growth. You’re right, Miriam. According to him, there is a general consensus among Japanese economists that education promotes economic growth. He also explained that when people have more knowledge and skills, they can help increase production and find new business opportunities in changing economic circumstances. The question is: why have the Japanese been better educated than comparable students in the United States?
    According to him, rising income was an important factor, since it enabled more parents to finance their children’s high school and college education. The government’s policy was also very committed to education, and funded increasing numbers of schools. But he stressed that its education policy was influenced by the importance Japanese culture has traditionally attached to education which is a legacy of Confucianism.

    Yoshihara also stated that the major accomplishments of the postwar educational system was in raising the overall level of education. As a result, in the early 1990s only 0.7 percent of the Japanese population was illiterate, compared with estimates of up to 20 percent in the United States. Japanese students did consistently well on science and math; high school graduates in Japan and university graduates in the United States were comparable in terms of basic knowledge of math and science. Even after leaving chool, many people continue to educate themselves, This explains the many newspapers, magazines, and books published every year and the documentary programs shown on television.. In the early 1990s newspaper circulation was twice as high in Japan as in the United States.

    The Japanese, Yoshihara continues, is much like a factory based on mass production methods. Specifications are laid down by the Ministry of Education. As a bureaucracy situated in Tokyo, the ministry is insulated from populist pressure to lower standards–as did happen in the decentralized school system of the United States. The ministry has been relatively free to set national standards and give detailed instructions about what is thought to be taught at each grade. Schools are free to select their own textbooks but only from a limited range screened by the Ministry. Another reason for the higher average level of education in Japan has been that students spend more days in school that is the case in the United States. In the 1980s Japanese students spent 240 days per year in school, 60 more days that their American counterparts, and so at the end of twelve years of elementary and secondary education Japanese students had received four more years of schooling than their US counterparts.

    Yoshihara also argued that ONE MAJOR REASON for Japan’s remarkable postwar economic performance has been that it had an appropriate culture. The Japanese, he continues, attach importance to (1) materialistic pursuits; (2) hard work; (3) savings for the future; and (4) investments in education . He also explained that institutions are an important determinant of economic development in Japan. Institutions, he added, are certainly important in determining incentives, , economic freedom, and transaction costs. Culture affects economic development through its influence on individual choice on institutions.. Institutional development, he stressed, does not take place in cultural vacuum.

    Yoshihara also explained that self-discipline was one the major factors for their growth. He considered three factors:work ethic, frugality, and education which I mentioned earlier. Before World War II it was normal for employees to work twelve hour days, with no more than two days off a month. Only in the early 1960s did the average Japanese worker receive a half day off on Saturday., with an eight-hour day being the norm. The Japanese work ethic is not just a matter of working long hours but how well one performs one’s job. Many Japanese–even ordinary or menial worker–feel kiga sumanai (not satisfied), unless they do their work well. The Japanese saying, ishi no uenimo sannen (“even a cold dark rock warms up if one sits on it for three years”) was often used to exhort Japanese to overcome their problems with gaman (patience).

    The Japanese have also been frugal. In 1960, when their per capita income was still low, they saved about 18 percent of their household income–compared to about 6 percent in the United States, 8 percent in France, 13 percent in West Germany, and 5 percent in Britain.

    Yoshihara talked a lot of stuff the role of culture, public policy, institutions and many others but he gave five general implications of his analysis, to wit:

    1. If Japan had a different culture, it might not be a developed country today. In this sense, the country’s culture was a necessary condition for Japanese economic development, but culture was not, however, a sufficient condition. Institutions were also crucial. Japanese culture was growth-promoting because Japan created the right institutions. Many of the early postwar institutions that set the stage for economic growth were largely the creation of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) which directed occupation policy.

    2. Though institutions can be created and can change independently of culture, some institutions that are important for economic development are related to culture. For example, developing countries have to change or create economic rules and policies in order to promote development, but this can be difficult when powerful vested interests are protected by existing rules and too few are concerned for the welfare of the ordinary people…

    3. Culture change as income arises. When people begin to enjoy a higher standard of living, culture may become less growth-promoting. The Japanese today are less hard-working and frugal than formerly, a trend reflected in the decline of the working hours and rates of household savings.

    4. Culture that is growth-promoting at one stage may cease to be at a later stage. A case in point is the community value orientation of Japanese culture. In order to revive the economy, Japanese companies have to discriminate more sharply on the grounds of merit. But this is difficult because community values have long been emphasized in Japanese society.

    5. All countries have individualism and community values as part of their cultures, and certainly the Unite States is no exception

    See the overriding significance of culture even in Japan?

    • miriam quiamco says:

      Anthony Q., are you really a nurse? You sound too much like someone who has a lot of time in his hands for scholarly pursuits. Yeah, I heard of “Erzats Capitalism” by Yoshihara Kunio, it was all the rave during my graduate school years in Kyoto, never got to read it though, but heard enough of it to know its contents. Culture has helped Japan, but you have to wonder too what if the Americans had occupied a country like Ghana, poured billions of dollars every year during its occupation, introduced a democratic system, gave free patents of inventions of American companies for as long as the Americans were in Japan, I wonder if Ghana would not have been as developed as Japan.

      The Americans certainly wanted the Japanese to decentralize its educational system, that they reverted to a centralized one just like before the war could be credited to the importance Tokyo central government put on education. Indeed, the kind of fanaticism pre-war Meiji system of government was able to breed, making the Japanese work long hours without complaints, why, it was a fascistic system , had they complained, they would have landed in prison for sure, was due to complete control of the education of the young. The Japanese education before the war proved effective in mobilizing the general populace for the fascistic interests of Japan then. After the war, the government knew that if they really wanted to rise from the rubble of war and become an economic power, the general populace would have to be educated accordingly, thus, the compulsory 9-year education system was put in place. An educated workforce was to its key to economic success.

      The Americans wanted the Japanese to pursue an export policy based on lightweight industries, the Japanese knew they could convert their wartime economic machine into heavy industrial power, thus, once again, they defied the Americans and pursued their own industrial policy. In the absence of “zaibatsus”, disbanded by the Americans, not all, but certainly weakened after the war, the government knew it had to step in the vacuum left by the weakened zaibatsus. Its this cultural shrewdness of the Japanese that could take advantage of every historical opportunity that brought economic success to the country. No hysterics, just this cold look at the realities, and no matter how humiliating the occupation was for the nationalists, they knew that one day, they would rise again and be great again, this is what is so admirable about the Japanese as a nation, not as individuals (35,000 suicides a year, remember?). It is their enlightened elites who are able to guide the nation at every historic opportunity, and yes, there is always that capacity for the Japanese for self-reflection and submit themselves to the collective effort for the common good. This is probably where culture is important, but also the right public policies, and historic accidents. . .

      • AnthonyQ says:

        Miriam, I apologize for some serious typos in my previous reply.

        No, I don’t have a lot of time in my hands for scholarly pursuits because I work long hours almost every night here in LA County and I can only reply to the questions here in my article when I’m off. I’m also a quizzer, Miriam, and that’s the reason why I enjoy reading books. Actually, my idol is a colleague of mine here at AP and he’s one of the first Grand Finalists during the heyday of the now-defunct Battle of the Brains back in the 90’s; he usually writes very lengthy articles.

        Anyway, in his book Asia Per Capita, Mr. Yoshihara Kunio also identified the following ways how the culture influences economic development:

        – Culture determines individual preference status

        – Culture is also an important determinant of people’s attitudes toward public order and the ethics of the government officials.

        – Culture affects institutions by shaping the ideological basis for legislation or policy.

        – A strategy for sustainable economic growth requires an appropriate cultural policy.

        Miriam, I don’t think Ghana would have been as developed as Japan if the Americans had occupied it.

        If you ever had a chance to read John Fairbank’s East Asia: The Modern Transformation, you will find out too that the enlightened policies of the American occupation contributed greatly to the astonishing transformation of Japan after World War II. But the author insists too that the Americans had pursued comparably enlightened occupation policies in Nicaragua, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic earlier in this century with little benefits for those countries (Ghana and Haiti almost share the same culture, Miriam, especially the practice of Voodoo which is one of the major reasons why most of the African countries are poor; Haitian Voodoo is an extreme case of progress-resistant culture that nurtures irrationality and inhibits focus of the material world as defined by Argentine scholar and journalist Mario Grondona in his Typology of Progress-Prone and Progress-Resistant Cultures)… Nor did the American presence in the Philippines for almost half a century result in anything like the spectacular Japanese success. The author also insists that the major reason for the Japanese “miracle” is the Japanese themselves–their values and attitudes. These values, he concluded, were shaped in part by Confucianism, which continues to influence Japanese culture.

        Teodoro Marosco, architect of Puerto Rico’s Operation Bootstrap, also mentioned in The Alliance for Progress–A Retrospective the failure of The Alliance for Progress inaugurated by President John F. Kennedy and other Latin American leaders. When Kennedy proposed the Alliance for Progress in 1961, his advisers were all convinced that Latin America could be converted into a stable, democratic, and economically dynamic area in one, or at the most, two decades. It was designed with Marshall Plan in mind and with similar approach, with heavy flow of resources and active participation of active countries. The American poured in $20 billion ($10 billion in development assistance, $10 billion in private investment) over ten years. By the early 1970s, Latin America was supposed to have a stable democracy, prosperous, and with social justice. But, you see, conditions in Latin America today will convince you that The Alliance for Progress was a dismal failure. Mr. Marosco concludes, “The Latin American case is so complex, so difficult to solve, and so fraught with human and global danger and distress that the use of the word ‘anguish’ is not an exaggeration. The longer I live, the more I believe that, just as no human being can save another who have not have the will to save himself, no country can save others no matter how good its intentions or how hard he tries.”

        Miriam, in 2006, Richard Lamm, Co-Director of the Institute for Public Policy Studies of the University of Denver and former Governor of Colorado from 1975-1987, wrote an essay entitled, “Public Policy and Culture” and he narrated that his administration took a lot of initiatives and sound policies in education. He concluded that those dealing with black and Latino were frustrating. And he also observed that students from poor Russia-Jewish families and poor Asian families excelled while Latino children from the same neighborhood dropped out in large numbers or performed poorly.
        He discovered eventually that culture really played a major role no matter how excellent his initiatives and policies were which I will discuss into details for my next article on culture. But right now, I wanna write something about our mainstream media and corruption in the Philippines (Did you know that the Philippines is the Asian country with the most number of anti-corruption measures and it has relied on seven laws and 13 anti-graft agencies since its battle began in the 1950s?). And yet, our gullible countrymen and our idiotic yellow media still believe that our incompetent and moronic president will be our modern-day savior that will emancipate us from the shackles of poverty by eliminating corruption in our country. Pathetic!

  20. Miriam Quiamco says:

    Anthony Q., okay so you write that Ghana and Latin America could not produce the same results that Japan was able to do even if massive American economic assistance were poured into these countries. I don’t think the Latin American experience could be compared to the Japanese one, Japan was an occupied country and the Americans even wrote its constitution and had elites by their necks. Latin America on the contrary was allowed to work its ineffective institutions with the billions of dollars of aid. I have yet to check on this, but I have a feeling that the money given by the Americans to Latin America was largely military due to the communist threat in Cuba and Chile. 20 billion dollars to Latin America is not much, Japan got sustained assistance to the tune of billions of dollars yearly from military orders for U.S. troops in Korea. Besides being a country with a strong military machine due to the war, the Japanese were in a position to turn war-time industries into heavy industries to start an industrial policy that encouraged exports and restricted foreign investments within the country and imports.

    What I am saying is that while culture is important, right public policies could transform culture too. The Japanese experienced militarization for decades and had never had genuine democracy which originated from the bottom, thus, their people could easily be mobilized. Now, this is not culture, but a historical experience or a result of public policies. You wrote that in the U.S., the blacks and Latinos have not been able to show progress despite the same public policies applied to their communities, I would take up the mayor on his assessment. Why are Filipinos thriving in the U.S., and why were the Americans a failure in uplifting the same race in their homeland. It is not because solely of culture, but because of historical accidents that shape the context of these public policies. The Latinos and blacks are the underclass due to their sad historical experiences. I don’t believe in cultural determinism. Chile has shown a Latin American country could spur economic growth, so does Brazil. With right policies and political leadership, a culture could be transformed, as BongV wrote, education, enlightened educational policies could make us economically developed too just like our neighbors.

    Having anti-corruption government bodies and laws may not guarantee the elimination of corruption. No country is ever free of corruption, but we want law enforcement agencies to be able to snag the corrupt and get them punished. My presidential candidate had the right policy on this. Anyhow Anthony Q.., Jose Rizal II is right, we are on the same page, but let me emphasize that I do not subscribe to the theory of cultural determinism which some scholars want to make us believe, this is tantamount to racism, if I may add. Check out Gerald Curtis and Chalmers Johnson’s books on the Japanese economic miracle and while you are at it, you may also read John Dower’s book on Japan. I still am amazed by the breadth of your knowledge on the debate making culture the center of economic development. Yes, culture matters, but culture is not carved in stone, it is malleable and can be transformed by shared historical experiences and right public policies.

    • Shaddap says:

      Miriam, culture talaga ang difference eh. Policy can do so much. If people have a culture that values work and frugality, they have a higher chance of becoming financially successful than people whose culture is happy go lucky and gastador.

      Kung tutuusin, kung pinatagal mo ang policies at nagsetup ka ng tamang system, magkakaroon ng tamang culture and that is even better. Policies and right systems can change culture so that even if temporarily, there are no policies and there is a disruption sa culture, gagana pa rin. Eh tingnan mo ang Pinas, because of the culture na puro nagmamarunong at akala mo kung sino sila, ayaw nga nila makinig sa proposals on adopting correct policies eh.

      Nakita mo ba Miriam? It’s the lousy culture of Pinoys na reason bakit andaming tanga at bobo sa mga Pilipino na kontra nang kontra sa tamang policies. Charter Change isa yun sa tamang policies, pero bakit ayaw umoo ng mga Pinoy. Answer: Stupid ang Culture ng Pinoy e.

      It’s the Culture that’s stopping us from approving the right policies.

      • Shaddap says:


        Sa blacks and Latinos mo, tingnan mo naman din kasi anong klaseng mga blacks and Latinos ang marami. Una, blacks galing sa slaves yun. May angst sila sa pagiging dating slave. Ang question na dapat itanong mo ay bakit yuung mga Jamaican immigrants, galing Barbados, galing Africa na blacks na pumunta sa States as immigrants bakit sila successful compare in general sa mga blacks from slave heritage?

        Bakit ang mga Latinos (mostly Mexican) kulelat sa pera? Kasi marami sa kanila mga peasants na lower class na nag-border crossing lang. Ang Pinoy, marami sa mga nasa States may college degree o galing middle class at professionals pa. Ang Pinoy para pasok states kailangan ng matinding pamasahe dahil mahal lumipad patungong States. Iba ang cultures nila kasi iba ang socio-economic background nila from their home countries. Most Latinos: very poor, peasant-background; Most Pinoys: educated, professionals, middle class.

        Kaya Miriam, culture pa rin ang basis.

        Balikan natin ang mga blacks. Slave-descended blacks versus immigrant blacks from Africa, Jamaica, Barbados, puro nga sila professionals. Tapos yung mga anak nila sound white kung magsalita ng English. Pero yung slave-blacks, may Ebonic accent sila. Culture yun, Miriam.

      • Miriam Quiamco says:

        Shaddap:  Culture is a product of common historical experiences of a people in a given geographical location.  It is not static and unchangeable, the reason why we cannot legislate the right public policies is because our political system is showbiz and popularity-oriented.  Our legislators, and it doesn’t matter if they are from the oligarchy are not held accountable within the system, and so does our bureaucracy.  There is no emphasis on a professional and efficient bureaucracy that should implement policies that are generated by the bureaucrats themselves with the cooperation of the legislature.  Charter Change can put in place a parliamentary system of government that can transform our cultural defeatism to that which makes us proud of bringing development to the country, and thus, the culture of poverty can be eliminated once and for all.  We need charter change to change our political culture.  This is my opinion.

      • ChinoF says:

        Agreed, you two. Culture is a cause of problems in our country. Also, our culture in particular is also a result of common historical experiences in our poverty-stricken, oligarch-controlled economy and geography. We need to change culture, but the political system now is helping to arrest such change. Thus, charter change (and the right kind of changes put in, like federalism, removal of protectionism, and parliamentary system) will help free this change so it can happen. Although the government type and law are not the only causes of a bad culture, they are among the tools to help bring it about. I’m just trying to summarize it all. So there, charter change is what we should aim for.

      • Shaddap says:

        Miriam, you said it yourself: there’s a problem with our culture. 

        That’s why the people in AP are pro-charter change anyway is because it is one part of the solution towards changing the culture.

        But as you can see, it is also because of Pinoy culture’s resistance to change that makes it so difficult for Filipinos to even accept the need for Charter Change, while perhaps for some other cultures that are more forward-looking and less emotional, they can recognize the problems of their culture and then propose solutions and they will encounter less opposition. But Pinoy Culture? It’s so anti-progress. Parang kailangan mong tutukan ng baril ang Pinoy para gawin ang tama eh. Because if you leave the Pinoy on his own, talagang pipiliin ng Pinoy ang mali porket yun ang gusto niya, hindi siya pipili ng anong tama.

        That’s the dilemma of culture.

  21. Indolent Indio Circa 1521 says:

    MALIGAYA NA NAMAN ANG FILIPINOS!!!!!!  A non-Filipino looking Filipino miss universe contestant is the paboreyt of the judges.


  22. puranzu says:

    Even in psychology back then it is said that children who were trained to have more self control are ought to be more successful in life

    but then again I quited psychology because of the amount of bull shit there that I don’t believe and no I’m not a religious nut.

  23. anthony says:

    “His current passion is all about how to fix the culture of the Philippines in order to turn it into a better country.”

    you cannot “fix” the country without living in it. “offshoring” is not a good way to “fix” a country several thousands of miles away

    ” In fact, it was when he first arrived in the USA that he realized that Filipino Culture has certain things about it that seem to retard progress in the Philippines.”

    nakupo!!!! retard progress????????!!!!!

    what’s “retarding” the “progress ” of the Philippines is the fast population growth, as it negates the economic gains of the productive sectors of the country. its ironic that the high population growth comes from that part of society in which a family only afford to rear 1 child, yet will have 8-9 children! the economy is not growing to accommodate the rising population

    “It is this observation, coupled with his concern for his home country that compels him to advocate cultural reforms. Thon is based in the city of angels – Los Angeles, CA.”

    er, why doesn’t he take to heart the battlecry of my favorite American, Barack Obama – Change.

    USA needs changing.

    Leave the Philippines to the Filipinos

    the Philippines has damaged culture?


    Focus on the problems in your own backyard

  24. anthony says:

    “Kaya Miriam, culture pa rin ang basis”

    agreed! tutoo!

    kultura na ng Pinoy ang colonial mentality at ang mag-migrate sa ibang bansa! is full of ex-Pinoys who are already citizens of another country!

    they are the living proof of the Pinoys’ damaged culture

    kaya Miriam, agree ka na sa mga members – culture pa rin ang basis

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