Esteemed owner of AntiPinoy.com BongV poses a brilliant question to get us started in a journey to revisit this road-to-success-not-taken by our sad nation.
"If Philippines was no 2 in 1950 – could it be said then that the culture at that time was different from today’s culture? [...] The current AS-IS state"
Here is my shot at an answer:
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One could argue that we were number two then because we were fresh out of 50 years of U.S. rule, and perhaps money was flowing in and jobs abounded because of the repair work being done in the aftermath of WWII bombing. If Japan was No. 1 at the time, it was because it was number one in Asia since the 19th Century and specially after it established itself as a major military power after it emerged victorious from the Russo-Japanese war at the turn of the century.
Compare the Philippines and Japan (No 2 and No 1 respectively in the 1950s). The Philippines was so under the management of a foreign power, whilst the Japanese were so under its own management and conscious initiative.
So in a sense, it is not surprising that the Philippines began its decline after it became independent (in the REAL sense) after 1946 -- it was merely reverting back to its natural state (since it was no longer propped up by a foreign master that was counteracting this natural tendency) -- seeking its own level, kung baga -- back to the state in which the Spanish first found us back in the 16th Century. The only problem was we were regressing back to our natural state while our population size was galloping towards the monstrous levels we see today. Back to primitivism but NOT back to a natural population level that fits our labour-intensive low-capital-applied primitivist way of life.
Japan on the other hand, after its defeat in WWII, merely continued what it was doing since its modernisation drive in the 19th Century. It was a sustainable momentum because it was a collective initiative fuelled from the very "DNA" of its cultural fabric.
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Culture is constant relative to geopolitics. Culture may change but not as fast as a society changes hands from one sphere of influence to another. That seems to be the essence of the history of the Philippines.