Georgia’s economic transformation and the Philippines should learn from them

Georgia is a small country in Caucasus region, sandwiched by giant neighboring countries of Russia and Turkey.

Yesterday, I read an article through the Business Insider website written by Simon Black of Sovereign Man featuring the economic miracle of Georgia, a small country with historical significance, sandwiched by giant neighboring countries of Russia and Turkey.

That article states the economic reforms done by the recent government of Georgia led by Mikheil Saakashvili like easing the cost-of-doing business to the level of developed countries, implementing flexible labor laws that made hiring and firing employees easier, cutting the tax rates to the level of most competitive countries like Singapore, and many others.

Free-market economic reforms makes Georgia among one of the most competitive countries not just in Caucasus but for the entire post-Soviet countries. Free-market economic reforms encourages foreign investors to invest in Georgia without much risks of red tapping and other constricts which stimulates economic growth there as more Georgians have an option for employment at home and improves the infrastructure which is vital for Georgia to go forward in the years to come.

Georgia’s economic reform should be the inspiration among the leaders of the Philippines to enact a necessary economic reforms in order to alleviate the poverty problem like more employment opportunities at home, to become more economically competitive with the rest of the world, to improve our vital economic infrastructure, and to reduce the endemic problem of corruption at all levels in our society.

The Philippines has no reason not to reform economically as our country has enough natural and human resources to use in order to compete with the rest of the world in economic terms. The problem on why our country is not competitive economically is because of our protectionist laws (stipulated to our constitution) that constricts further economic growth like limiting potential foreign investors to invest to only 40% in establishing or acquiring a firm in contrast in other countries where foreign investors are allowed to invest 100% from their own capital without a necessity of a local partner to tap 60% or something unlike here, inflexible labor laws that limits further job creation like prohibiting foreign citizens to practice their respective professions and difficulty to fire inefficient employees, rampant red tape and corruption in the government workplace which further rises the cost-of-doing businesses here in our country especially among foreign investors, outdated infrastructure and educational system that needs further investment. These constricts should be going to address by our leaders if we want to have an economy that is a prosperous, a competitive, and a sustainable in relative with the rest of the world.

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The significance of José Rizal to our history as a Filipino

José Rizal was the person who inspired the Filipinos to fight for independence from Spain even though he himself was not in favor for total independence from Spain.

Today, 19 June is the 151st birthday of the national hero of our country, José Rizal. The date of birth was significant to us as a Filipino who fought for independence from the excesses of friar-led Spanish colonial rule even though Rizal personally was not in favor for outright independence from Spain.

His emergence as a patriot, novelist, ophthalmologist, polymath, and a linguist inspired many Filipinos not just during his time but also to later generations to fight for freedom from the excesses of colonial rule of Spain, the United States and also the excesses of post-colonial economic, political, and social policies. His ideas like equality among Filipinos and the Spaniards that time caught him a significant followers regardless of personal ideas like Andrés Bonifacio and many others.

His entire life was practically spent to fight the excesses of friar-led Spanish colonial rule as he was the apparent heir to continue the legacies of his family. His exceptional talents gave him a comparative advantage over his colleagues that time to fight the excesses of the colonial rule like the obvious preferences by the religious orders to Spanish individuals over a Philippine-born individuals of appointing priests to the various parishes in all over the archipelago.

His exceptional talents enabled him to raise the concerns of the Filipino people to the Spanish people when he went to Spain and the entire Europe in order to awaken not just the Spaniards but the entire world on what the grievances of the Filipino people then. It was in Europe when José Rizal wrote his ideals and grievances like Noli me Tangere, El Filibusterismo, and La Solidaridad.

His goals for a better Philippines incurred the ire from the people who enjoys the status quo especially from the friars who got threatened by Rizal’s writings like the exploitation of native Filipino women for personal benefit of some friars in their respective parishes. His writings was the cause of his unjustified death in the hands of the friars on 30 December 1896.

After then, later generations took Rizal’s life as an inspiration to fight the excesses not just against foreign occupiers but also against some local interests who controlled the political, social, and economic lives of the vast majority for their personal benefit. In spite of several interpretations on how should Rizal be remembered to the eyes of the people, José Rizal was still the symbol and the inspiration for the Filipinos that need to be emulated for the next generation of people to come.

Why Mahathir Mohamad is right

Mahathir Mohamad, former Prime Minister of Malaysia speaking before the audience at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila.

Last Monday, a day before the Independence Day celebration, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad spoke before the audience during a lecture at the University of Santo Tomas where he conferred as honorary professor.

One on his thoughts on our Philippine democracy is that we applied it literally without concerning the other sides of our basic socio-economic problems of this country.

He said there are instances when democratic freedom is being abused.

“When people think only of the freedoms of democracy and know nothing of the implied responsibilities, democracy will not bring the goodness that it promises. Instead it will result only in instability and instability will not permit development to take place and the people to enjoy the benefits of freedom and the rights that democracy promises,” Mahathir said, clarifying that he is not against democracy.

What he said that when people thinks freedom of democracy without knowing the responsibilities without bringing goodness on it is very right especially in this situation in our country. Most Filipino people thinks that even simple harsh rules is equivalent to dictatorship which that thinking is wrong. Achieving economic, political, and social development shall not be chaotic but should be done in orderly manner that never compromises a specific group for the benefit of an another specific group.

Mahathir reminded his Filipinos audience that one pitfall of unbridled democracy is a poor leadership. “The leader in particular must be incorruptible. His being so will lessen the level of corruption among those under him. There will still be corruption but the degree would be less…In every country there are great people who should lead, but seeing the filth in politics ad the fears of those who come into power they are unwilling to take the risk. And so very often the leaders are mediocre people at best, present company accepted.”

What he said is very realistic because we cannot get rid of corruption in our country not because it’s systematic but because our nature as a human being that we are born to be greedy and have our own self-interest however it does not mean that you have to steal other people’s works for your own benefit but instead if you want to have what he/she have, you should to strive to get what you want in a clean manner.

Mahathir later on added, “We cannot assume majority of the people must be intelligent. In many instances, majority is not intelligent and minority refuses to be Involved because they think politics is dirty. If you don’t manage democracy well it is not going to pay dividends.“

That’s absolutely right that the majority is not always the right and in fact, the majority commits the wrong ideas over the minority side because of imperfections on their thought. In order to have economic, political and social policies to be formulated and then implemented in general, we should going to listen both sides on the ideas on whether, it is practical or not. By fulfilling the consensus-based governance, the government can able to implement it’s policies with general approval from common people and anything has flaws, it could be corrected easily.

Why our independence was not enough

Philippine flag waving. On 12 June 1898, the Philippines through Emilio Aguinaldo unilaterally declare its independence from Spain. This was not the greatest day of the Philippine history.

On 12 June 1898, the Philippines through Emilio Aguinaldo declared unilaterally the independence of the Philippines from Spanish control after 333 years of domination then. That celebration of independence was made possible after the American Navy defeated the Spanish Navy during a naval battle at the Manila Bay, months earlier and with the Spanish defeat creates a political vacuum that would decide the fate of the country for the next generations to come. When that vacuum happens, Emilio Aguinaldo, the leading Filipino revolutionary took the opportunity to declare the political independence from Spanish rule.

However, the declaration of independence by Emilio Aguinaldo at Kawit Cavite never gained an international recognition especially from Spain and the United States as the latter decided to take over Manila, two months after Aguinaldo’s unilateral declaration of independence. On 10 December 1898, during the Treaty of Paris when the United States and Spain settled for peace as the latter decided to give up the remaining Hapsburg-era colonies of Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Cuba gained its independence in 1902, four years after that treaty was signed while Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines was turned over to American control and to gain the Philippines, the United States had to pay Spain with worth of $20 million.

That treaty never gained much popular support from the Filipino people as they fought the Spanish government for the independence and yet the American would just going to inherit what the Spaniards left and to enforce the American rule, the Americans had to fight the tired Filipino revolutionaries which later the Americans won and their control was ensured for the next 44 years.

The American rule in the Philippines formulated on what the real identity of the country as we knew as the Americans decided to continue what the Spanish government left to them by educating the Filipinos but with this time with American values like English language, rule of law legal theology, separation of church and state doctrine, gender equality, and Protestant religion.

That public education system deepened by the Americans created a new bunch of leaders and citizens who were mostly immersed with the American values and these people were the one who lead the country starting from the late period of American rule until the present time.

Why I could say that these people never lead this country into a real economic, political, and social prosperity? because these bunch of people who inherited the fruits of American-led education squandered many opportunities at separate occasions in order for our country and its citizens to live in prosperity that would have meant to real independence supposedly.

When the Americans left from government control of our country in 1946, these bunch of leaders tended to enrich, persecute, and manipulate the ordinary people for their personal privileges as the Americans unfortunately never decided to end the feudal-like hacienda system way back from Spanish era and also these bunch of leaders who raised during the American era decides to continue that system.

That hacienda-based economic system established by the Spanish rulers and maintained by the Americans and post-independence Filipinos in addition to nonsensical economic protectionism against foreign investors in the name of “nationalism” made the country poorer in relative with the rest of the world as other countries who recovered from the damages of WWII more impressively than the Philippines.

Also, the Americans made a mistake of installing their theory of separation of powers where the three branches of the government, the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judiciary are separated to each other and no cooperation is possible especially between the Executive and the Legislative which results to severe political instability of the country many times and occasions as the people who posses on that respective branches tends to pander their own political agenda instead of creating a common goal for political and socio-economic progress of this country.

The Americans made a fatal mistake on transforming the sociocultural transformation by forcing their cultural aspects to the minds of the Filipino people abruptly instead of having to transform our culture gradually like imposing the rugged individualism mentality, the English language, Protestant religion, American sport, and American movies without thinking the real cultural core of the Filipinos which was mostly Hispanic and Catholic culture. That cultural imposition by the Americans distorts the identity of many Filipinos after then and creates the gradual destruction of Filipino identity in the face of global integration by almost absorbing anything American while forgetting the Filipino values.

That distortion of our country at all aspects must be corrected NOW not LATER in order to show to other people from around the world that our Filipino identity is unique not just a carbon-copy from colonial powers. By correcting our distortions, we can gain our real independence

Why Bradley’s victory over Pacquiao was a sham

Timothy Bradley just won the fight in order for the promoter, Bob Arum to enrich himself more in a hypothetical rematch between them.

Yesterday, a surprise decision came out during the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley’s fight in favor to the latter. That decision came out when two out of three judges gives their favor to Timothy Bradley with the score of 115-113 and the other judge gives with the same score for Manny Pacquiao.

The decision was controversial for right reasons as the fight shows, it was really Manny Pacquiao who dominates the 2/3 of the fight and releases more punches to Bradley over Bradley did to Pacquiao. The fight reaches to 12 rounds as Timothy Bradley shows his defensive strength of this game and bothers Manny Pacquiao many times at the last part of the fight however during the early part, Timothy Bradley cannot penetrate himself and nearly knock outed by Manny Pacquiao at the third round and had to hug himself with Manny at the middle of the ring to cushion himself from imminent defeat.

Manny Pacquiao cannot able to release his combination of punches to Bradley or able to knock out him directly because of his declining athletic and punching speed that was the prime strength of Manny for past years as a boxer due to reduced time for practice for other non-boxing commitments such as being a representative of his province at the House of Representatives, show businesses commitments, and last of all the lists was that he turned himself to be more firm of his Christian beliefs by acting practically like a minister of a Protestant Church.

That factors really affected the way Manny fighting at the ring not just this recent fight but also to other previous fights. That personal changes of Manny Pacquiao really affects the perception by his boxing fans here in the Philippines but also to the boxing community in the United States where the fight was held.

However, in spite of Pacquiao’s lapses, he gave a good fight not just to Bradley but also to his fans by showing that he is still the Pacman as we know it even though his speed and quickness were significantly reduced. He also showed his humility in front of his fans that in spite of being defeated in a shammy way, he gladly accepts the judges decision for a mean while.

What I, boxing fans and analysts, and ordinary audience cannot accept was the way the judges on deciding the game of disregarding the spirit and fairness of the game for financial purposes of the promoter of that fight in the person of Bob Arum of Top Rank promotions. That judges’ decision was purportedly done in order to appease what the promoter wanted that is to use Manny Pacquiao and the pay-per-view viewer as a source of income of his promotion company through rigging the results of the fight. We have to know that boxing matches were mostly about financial purposes as gaining more viewers means more money not just to the boxers but also to the promoters of a fight and more boxing matches means more money to circulate.

This kind of rigging the boxing matches for purely financial purposes must be stopped in order to preserve the spirit and integrate of the sport of boxing and also not to lose the remaining boxing fans who some of them get disgruntled of some boxing matches.

Misguided criticism on latest Bayo ad

Jasmine Curtis-Smith portraying as a 50% Australian and 50% Filipino with this Bayo ads. The critics on thinks that there’s a pure Filipino race are simply wrong on their criticisms.

This week, the well-known clothing line Bayo releases their latest ad campaign portraying what is the usual standard of beauty in Filipino’s point of view.

They portrayed some celebrities as their models who happened almost of them of having an ancestry other than Filipino like for example, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, a half English Australian and Surigaonon Filipino. This ads gain much criticism especially from some intellectuals who fixated themselves that there is a really a “100% Filipino race” which in reality says otherwise.

I can say that their criticisms on the ads on the basis that Bayo prefers celebrities with mixed-lineage as be their product model is a simply wrong because it is the Bayo’s right to choose and pay the celebrities to act as their product model in order to gain more consumers to buy their products and also hiring celebrities with mixed-lineage aside from Filipino to be usual as the show business industry tends to prefer mixed-lineage people in order to gain more audience from the general public.

We have to accept the reality that the Philippines’ existence as a country is a product of thousands of years of constant migration of people from all over parts of the world starting from Andamanese migration (the descendants of the minority Aeta people) up to the recent Han Chinese and Korean migration to our country. That racial and cultural mixing formulates our Filipino identity and that multicultural nature of our culture shall be going to be appreciated by all of us, Filipinos.

This racial issue not just right now but also long before is something that we should have a guts of tolerance to engage not just the issue but also with dealing the people who are subject to that racial scrutiny. We must going to realize not just as a Filipino but also as a human being that racial purity literally speaking makes non-sense as for the millions of years that the human species is existing, we inevitably to mix other people with different racial and cultural backgrounds and that mixing our racial and cultural background is necessary for a human species to evolve and survive for the next million years. Our civilization as we know it would never going to flourish if we had never undergo an interaction with other races and cultures.

Philippine economy grows 6.4% from 1st quarter 2011 and why it is unsustainable

Philippines’ GDP grew 6.4% in the first quarter of 2012 over the same quarter of 2011. Is it sustainable or not?

Last Thursday, the NSCB or the National Statistical and Coordination Board releases the data of the state of the Philippine economy during the previous quarter of this year. The Philippines’ GDP expanded 6.4% in the first quarter of 2012 over the same quarter of 2011. With this rate of growth in previous quarter, the Philippines has the second fastest growth in Asia after China.

For many years, the Philippine economy is a laggard compared with fast-growing East and Southeast Asian countries like China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia because of economic and political volatility. It is just only in the recent years that the Philippines is somewhat catching-up the economic growth of our neighboring countries as some of them are becoming economically mature or developed which tends to slow the rate of economic growth compared to us who just starting to catching-up.

The economic rate of growth of the Philippines tends to be erratic even now as the government tends to intervene in the economic cycle especially during the election year that occurs every three years like spending the government’s budget for infrastructure projects that sometimes unnecessary for a certain areas, social spending to feed the urban low-class families in order to lure votes by the politicians for elections, and protecting some business interest from foreign competition at the expense of the welfare of the consumers.

That government-driven growth being postulated by the government for many years influenced by the ideas of John Maynard Keynes, a British economist who proposes that the government should stimulate the economy by increasing the money supply to circulate in the economy at the expense of long-term pain of excess inflation that would slap the consumers and the private enterprises needs to lessen and the government should make a favorable environment for a private enterprise and consumers to prosper and lead the economy in a long-run like dismantling monopolies, lowering tax rates, curbing red tape, scrapping the constitutional restrictions against foreign participation in the economy, flexible labor laws, market-based wage adjustments, and free flow of capital.

By restructuring the economic fundamentals of our country, the real prosperity would be feel by the majority eventually and the government needs to reform NOW not LATER.