Two-Edged Swords

by jun asuncion

( My reaction to rudybellens interesting contribution ” Lessons We Should have Learned…)

This situation analysis about Taiwan and the Philippines boils down to the most basic fundamentals again that we have been talking about: education and character, with all its strengths and weaknesses. To illustrate this I quote hereunder salient portion of rudybellen’s report:

“The Philippines still has an edge in being an English speaking-country and in having many natural resources, unlike Taiwan that only has its people as resource. However, its sole wealth in people, enabled Taiwan to tap its greatest potential in developing high-technology industries. ITRI, an agency with more than 5,000 researchers and more than 1,000 Ph.Ds, has enabled the spin-off of many technology companies.”

Taiwan has a high quality educational system as we have seen in PISA results. Wealth is a matter of quality not of quantity. Quantity-wise, we are richer than Taiwan in terms population, about 23 million (Taiwan) vs. about 90 million (Philippines). But this “wealth” of ours is more of liabilities than assets when it’s not educated in the modern sense as Taiwan; Taiwanese are highly educated and this is the big difference. The other thing that contributes to their success is their character. The Taiwanese engineers and scientists trained in Silicon Valley in the 80’s and 90’s returned to their small country and helped boost its economy in the succeeding years. This is loyalty and patriotism, a character trait that seems to be strongly anchored among the Taiwanese.

The Philippines’ claim of having an edge being an English speaking-country is a farce, outdated in my view for it did not/doesn’t contribute substantially to the country’s economic progress. We were made to believe by the American colonizers that by adopting their language and lifestyle we would boost our economy, i.e. get rich. The fact is that many countries that are rich and successful are not English-speaking ones,-Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and many more. The Philippines learned English early yet remained poor until now. So where is this edge? These countries acquired English much later but now they write and speak much better than most of us; they have learned their lessons well, thanks to their better equipped teachers and schoolrooms.

It is not to be disputed that the Philippines is endowed with rich natural resources compared to Taiwan, that in fact our wealth is still not fully tapped and converted to economic wealth yet -though we have already ravaged our ecosystem to a greater extent due to ignorance, greed and lack of political foresight. This is sad but I believe that there is still much left to be saved and recovered for us now and for the next generations. Let us not be pessimistic about our environment for in the long run it’s not we human beings that shape nature, but nature us human beings. Naturally we have to maintain our immediate environment clean (less pollution) if we want to survive and harvest something from it or else commit a planetary suicide.

This is an option left for us to decide. But such things as global warming and climate change, etc. are nothing new in the history of our planet and solar system. Central Europe was not always a temperate zone; hundreds of thousand years ago it was a tropical region with corresponding flora and fauna; there used to be palm trees like coconuts in Luzern for instance during those times. Glacial ice melted here and there millions of years before the invention of cars and Al Gore’s birth. Behind man’s exaggeration and hysteria about the climate is his belief that he is the center of all things and thus being in control of the world. Our realistic responsibility is to keep our surrounding clean and productive, nothing more. The universe takes control of the whole- even us little creatures.

How are we related to cows and milk? Well, they reveal a lot about our weaknesses and strengths. I do not mean the strength you get from drinking fresh cow’s milk every morning nor the weakness from the lack of milk, but about our political will and character.

To quote again rudybellen’s report to us:

“A foremost backer of a strong dairy industry was former Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani, who launched her White Revolution years ago to bring in Indian cows and bulls to propagate higher yields of milk and meat in the country. The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) also developed in vitro fertilization (IVF) to propagate better breeds, including some from Hungary, to increase the number of livestock for milk production. Dairy farmers have complained that there is little incentive for milk production even though there are large pasture areas in the country that have not been adequately exploited”.

You see clearly that it’s not the lack of brains in our country but the lack of political will to continue something good that has been started like this White Revolution launched by Senator Shahani. Mr. Ningas Cogon and Mrs. Crab Mentality are names that dominate the government’s payroll. They are the enemies of our economy for they come only to search and destroy, instead of to search and preserve or further develop. These large pasture areas in the country have been adequately exploited not for the dairy industry but for residential subdivisions, an example of those projects that are a two-edged sword for though they create, they destroy much more than what was created.

There are other solutions to solving the housing problems of a growing population. First, control the population, and second, design housing structures vertically, not horizontally. We know that global food crises come and go- only to come again. We are experiencing it at the moment. Yet I have never heard until now of such problem as global housing crisis where countless people die in a short period of time. There is always a way to find a little corner to sleep or a roof when it rains- and survive. To find food however is too difficult when every inch of the land has been cemented; you would survive after you have eaten your grass-deprived cow or goat, but not long.

We should therefore be avoiding converting vast areas of lands for housing purposes but should preserve them for our cows, rice and grass. Building subdivisions is destroying the economy and landscape and investing huge money in an economically poor project; it has zero-returns for the whole country and other related industries, hence a passive investment. The land should produce crops and offer living space for productive animals.

In the same manner that two-edged swords destroy our economy, death penalty in Saudi Arabia destroys heads every week in public squares. An Erap head should have rolled all along the Edsa Highway, instead of being house arrested with all the luxuries of a first class prison and getting pardoned in the end by an egoistic Arroyo. Death penalty is a tool that I think is reserved only for a very just government where, to quote rudybellen “we only need to implement the law rationally”, and justice for all- if I may add something to it. We have already seen in Arroyo’s action that such death penalty is also a farce in a corrupted political and legal system. Where money and power rule, death penalty is a joke for the rich and powerful criminals but of course feared like hell by smaller criminals.

Have you ever heard or- in case you are an OFW in Saudi Arabia- seen an Arabian Prince or influential public official hanged in those many execution squares in Saudi Arabia on charges of corruption? Saudi Arabian politics is unequalled in bribery and corruption- even before they discovered their oil. It is often called as the Kingdom Of Corruption- and it has the most advanced and active death penalty of the world!

Death penalty in this country is a tool used by corrupt officials to protect their status quo by propagating fear (deterrence) among the little people, but not to stop corruption itself. Take note also that countries with less or no grand scale corruption are countries without death penalty in their legal system – with the exception of the Philippines. In a public act (display) Arroyo aborted death penalty in our country yet her term has the highest record of extra-judicial killings. Whatever the motives behind these two events, and whether there is relationship, is open for interpretation. This is my observation.

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer