The Chinese Filipinos are a case in point that illustrates how the nature of a country's politics can often have no observable bearing on the economic advancement of a community. In an article I wrote about them way back, I made this observation:
Bad governance and lack of education are the top scapegoats, for example. They simply beg the question: the Chinese community was with us through countless corrupt and inept administrations, they had to register their businesses in the same public offices, and they paid taxes to the same government. Furthermore, they landed on our shores, speaking not a word of English or Tagalog. Now, their volunteer fire brigade is far more reliable (and honest) than the government-run force.
Quality or lack of quality leaders has always been (1) a dandy accounting for success in a society and, unfortunately, (2) a convenient excuse for chronic failure as well. Indeed, I highlight this point even more in my 2006 article Fiesta Charter Change: Politicised Hope where I cited how...
No matter how much or how many instances of political change we have seen in the last 50 years, the condition of the average Filipino has not changed fundamentally. We therefore conclude that politics have failed us and that our society has failed to prosper because of politics.
This is a truism that most Filipinos are quite comfy with.
As we sit and watch the Fiesta Cha-Cha (charter change) train wreck unfold before our very eyes, one wonders how a society that fancies itself to be one that is utterly dis-illusioned with politics, once again, finds itself transfixed on this new drama which is grabbing prime media headlines and airtime. Could it be that the whole fundamental issue behind the failure of our society to move forward is our over-reliance on political solutions? We see Fiesta Cha-Cha or -- for that matter, each and any political event, whether they be elections or more fiesta revolutions -- as critical crossroads in the destiny of the nation. The whole society stops and waits to see what the next political upheaval will yield, and postpones any on-going effort to push on towards a tangible objective.
We have all but politicised our shot at prosperity.
Suffice to say, the TRUTH about Pinoys cannot be escaped. In that same article I refer to Charles Murray where in his book Human Accomplishment he showed how there seems to be no correlation between a society's environment and an inherent inclination for achievement to be observed from which I propose that...
It could imply that societies that have in them an inherent ability to overcome challenges will progress despite rather than because of its environment. It is the converse of the blame politics tenet around which Filipino cynicism towards poltics is built around.
Thus, fundamental change at the grassroots level can be achieved regardless of the foolishness going on in a country's politics.
The achievements of the Filipino-Chinese community lends some credence to this counter-intuitive idea. The conditions and status of the Filipino-Chinese community have in fact changed fundamentally in the last 50 years. Once mere taho vendors and small shopkeepers, they are now captains of Philippine industry. From Third class citizens to First class citizens. And this change happened even as Philippine politics continued to stumble along from one rut to another. The same cannot be said of the larger Filipino people. The Philippines is not only still a Third World nation, it is amongst the least-promising of the lot -- a far cry from the shining graduate of American colonialism that it was back in 1946.
Perhaps there is an entire iceberg of cultural baggage that we do indeed have to come to terms with before the tip of said proverbial iceberg (that part of it that gets the most Media spotlights) is used as a basis for any further solutioneering.