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Showing posts from January, 2011

Branding the Philippines Part II: turning a commodity into a premium product

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Blogger Paul Farol recently brought to my attention an initiative to develop a "brand" for the Philippines. The initiative is being championed by a certain EON Philippines which, according to its website, is a "stakholders relations firm". EON have written a whitepaper, "Branding the Philippines: Championing the Filipino" that consolidates ideas brainstormed in a recently held forum that included representatives from various business stakholders in the Philippines (chambers of commerce, business clubs, industry associations, etc.).

Noynoy Aquino: Filipino of the Year for 2010

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The Inquirer today crowned President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III "our Filipino of the Year". This honour was bestowed on the incumbent Philippine president supposedly for being "the living Filipino who made the most positive impact in 2010". And, it seems, on the basis of a November 2010 Social Weather Station survey that showed "seven out of 10 Filipinos were satisfied with President Aquino’s administration" and on a Pulse Asia "trust rating" of 80 percent.

Science vs Religion: an incomplete victory

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Shocking revelation: In the United States, only 28 percent of teachers taught evolution "effectively", and that 13 percent of them advocated creationism. Unfortunate, considering that a US court had already previously held that the concept of "intelligent design" is not a science. In the landmark Kitzmiller v. Dover case, eleven parents sued a public school board in Pennsylvania for a policy that legitimised intelligent design and creationism. The outcome of the case was a triumph for science and a "defeat[...] of creationism in the courtroom"...

Kicking the US out of our shores - a 20-year lesson for Filipinos

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The United States is reportedly taking steps to help beef up the Philippines' "maritime capacity". Southeast Asia is of strategic importance to the United States and the Philippines is the weakest link of the zone. Its long coastline and dense jungle of islands coupled with a flaccid armed forces make the Philippines a blight in a vital junction of shipping lanes -- a potential haven for pirates, transshipment point for arms and illegal drugs, and base for international terrorism.

Change from within: how science and celebrity can effect it

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It has often been highlighted that to get on a sustainable course towards prosperity, Filipinos need not a change of men but a change in men. It is a social transformation that needs to come from within. An article in Scientific American provides insight on how lessons learned from the success of some past initiatives that aimed to transform thinking in people and shape their regard for what were once deeply-ingrained beliefs and mindsets could be re-applied today.

Philippine crime wave: built upon an institutionalised criminal infrastructure!

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The last several weeks had seen many high profile crimes make headline news, tweeted and re-tweeted on Twitter. From thence the characteristic teeth gnashing and talking-out-loud public introspection that modern "social media" had all but commoditised today pervades the national chatter. Much of the perception that we are now leading dangerous lives in a crime-gripped society runs counter to statistical data pointing to an actual reduction in the country's crime rate. However, as the Inquirer.net Editor himself observed, it's not facts, but perceptions that drive action...

Philippine reform agenda - stay focused on the mission

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The mission is quite straightforward -- alleviate poverty, invigorate the economy, and make both outcomes sustainable. There is not much in the way of alternatives to consider as far as the mission goes. But as far as actions go, there are many alternatives and many ways of combining these alternatives. Perhaps the one gathering momentum is the way to go. But to remain focused on the mission necessitates continued openness to evaluating alternatives even as we proceed with the popular option. That way the public remains better engaged.

Real-world personal relationships severely limit a blogger's artistic license

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The Philippine blogosphere tends to buzz a lot about stuff that has to do with blogging. That's quite natural. Car enthusiasts talk about cars, sports fans talk about sport, and bloggers talk about blogging. The thing with this of course is that non-bloggers (more so those outside even its outer circle of Twitterers and other "social media" aficionados) cannot relate. This collective navel-gazing that the Pinoy blogging community gets into every now and then seems, therefore, to yield no real social value beyond, hopefully, an inward reflection that might result in some self-policing and, even more hopefully, some positive outcomes.

Cleaning house before laying out the welcome mat: being cluey about foreign capital

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One of the key aspects of the Constitutional Reform agenda revolves around the proposal to open the Philippines to full foreign ownership of business assets and private property. It is a worthwhile option to explore as it has been known for quite some time how inept Filipinos are with creating capital indigenously and at keeping a productive chunk of it within its borders. Nonetheless, there is still a need to remain vigilant as to the nature of the capital we allow Filipinos unfettered access to, specifically: We want capital coming in that expands capacity for sustained gains in productivity and equity creation.

Throwing our doors open to foreign investment when we can't even get tourists to visit

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Everytime I walk by the local Flight Centre (an airline ticket booking chain that offers McDonalds-like travel agency services) in the city, I note the posters and fliers displaying sweetened holiday deals to various Southeast Asian cities beckoning Aussies shopping for their next overseas getaway "adventure". You can't help but notice the ridiculously low fares to "exotic" cities like Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and even Phnom Penh - a city just fresh out of the Stone Age. With the Aussie Dollar flying above the rest of the developed world's deppressed currencies, and winter fast approaching in the southern hemisphere, our credit cards are locked and loaded.

The Philippines' Vital Few initiatives

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The Philippines is a most massive outcome of lots of actions underpinned by very little thinking. So many initiatives, advocacies, "movements", agendas, and vested interests driven by even more characters in a country of 100 million clueless people -- it sounds like a chapter out of John Barrow's seminal book Impossibility. The Philippines is a case study in Impossibility. But it is only so because we barrel down slippery slopes without a lifeline to a basic plot. The vital few is a management concept that we can, perhaps, apply as we face the next six years as a way to keep our bearings even as we slog through the complex of petty politics and the din of chatter in our pursuit of clarity of purpose. Here are what I think the three vital few issues that define Filipinos' aspirations.

Drive-thru religion: McAnnulment proposed in Colmenares's House Bill 3952

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If you think drive through lanes for McDonalds was a bright idea, consider then what Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares might be on to. Colmenares is filing House Bill 3952 which seeks to make marriage "annulment" in the Philippines easier. The Philippines has always pretended to be a society that takes marriage seriously. As such, the Law (perhaps one that exists under the watchful eye of the local Catholic Taliban) would rather see an untenable marriage "treated as if it never existed" rather than recognise the truth about its existence and untenability and simply terminated.

The next Filipino career fad - mercenaries and soldiers of fortune

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Fear not my desperately underpaid compatriots! Even as Filipino nurses pour into the job market in enormous value-crushing volumes as Filipinos tend to do, there is yet another lucrative overseas market emerging for starving Filipino workers. In her paper "Pirates' in the Sea: Private Military and Security Company Activities in Southeast Asia and the Philippines", Katherine Marie G. Hernandez reports that there is a lucrative market for Filipino mercenaries in various war zones all over the world.

Advanced Happy Valentines Day!

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Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Who would one expect to see jumping up and down with excitement? Lovers all over the world? Wrong. Most excited of all will be the retailers. Valentine's Day is an occassion that sees us engaging in a most wasteful orgy of gift-giving and consumption. Compared to that other consumerist occassion, Christmas, where the proportion of durable goods that exchange hands is relatively bigger, trinkets that are bought and given out during Valentine's Day are primarily non-durable. Almost all end up destined for a landfill or a sewer within days of their purchase.

Kim Komenich should know the Truth about Philippines post-Edsa Revolution

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American photojournalist Kim Komenich is out looking for the subjects of the iconic photographs he took of the Edsa People Power "Revolution" of 1986. He even won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography for his trouble. Poor guy, though. He has no idea what a big joke Filipino-style street "revolutions" had since become -- a testament to Da Pinoy's renowned talent for perverting otherwise noble endeavors.

PNoy needs to come up with better excuses than blaming Arroyo

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What's it going to take for the current administration to stop blaming the previous administration for everything bad that has happened and even the ones that keep happening after former President Gloria Arroyo (GMA) left Malacanang? It has become some sort of a tradition for President Noynoy Aquino (PNoy) and his minions to blame GMA for all the ills in the land.

The top of the food chain of the Philippine blogosphere on Twitter!

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The Get Real Philippines Network is on Twitter. Check out our cadre of elite opinion shapers and follow their work by subscribing to GRPhilippines_Network on Twitter! This is a list of people who form the TOP of the food chain of the Philippine blogosphere. Keep updated on their exploits and the sharp insights they inject into a sea of undifferentiated chatter! Click here to follow!

Ronald Singson is fnked - the same way Filipinos always have been

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So far, the Hong Kong government is holding three Filipino "assets" by the nuts -- (1) the thousands of Filipinos on whose jobs as servants in the territory depend the means to live of quinta-multiples of that number back in the islands, (2) political ascendancy over the search for the Truth on who is really accountable for the needless deaths of eight Hong Kong nationals resulting from a botched hostage rescue operation in Manila, and (3) Philippine Congressman Ronald Singson. For most people who are not beholden to the pleasantries of polite society, there is one word that best describes the Philippines...

Kuh Ledesma et al not up to competing with Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber

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Looks like the anemic Philippine showbiz industry and the economic aspirations of the broader Filipino public are on a collission course. While President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and his henchmen in the "Communication" business scramble to re-direct blame to former President Gloria Arroyo's administration for the dismal showing of the Philippines in a global ranking of "economic freedom" (coming out 115th in a list of 117!), various local artists are calling for a further regulation of the performing arts industry to stem the entry of foreign acts into the country's concert circuit.

Noynoy Aquino and his Porsche

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When the President of the Philippines buys himself a Porsche, his spokesman needs to emphasize that "personal funds [were used] for the purchase". That's the sort of society that the Philippines is -- a society where presumption of thieving intent always trumps benefit of the doubt. It seems that even the squeaky clean image of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III fails to break a mindset forged in the furnace of banal thievery of Philippine society.

Oversupply of Filipino nurses: the gold rush is over

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Pathetic how Filipino nurses now have to pay in order to get work experience. That indeed is one for the books -- to have to pay an employer for the privilege to work for him. It's a kind of below-zero negative unemployment (unemployed na nga, negative pa). Whereas the Philippines is already known for its dirt cheap labour, it now has the distinction of being a country where negative wages are paid!

It'd be hilarious if it weren't so poignant.

Some seminal GetRealisms

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Here is a review of some of our most seminal concepts, one of which we hope is permanently dead and buried while the other three, sadly, remain characteristic of the outside-the-square, oblique, and often seen to be obtuse way we engage the National "Debate". Sad, because of the fact that only a small minority possess the insight to approach the issues in the way collectively described by the latter three, while the rest that make up the majority and often loudest voices of the national chatter see only the easy discourse.

Why Big Media would like us to have fast Internet

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Of course, "entertainment" is a life necessity. But stop to think why Media conglomerates all over the world are pitching faster and faster access to the Net as some kind of human right. Simple. The more content that can be shoved down fibre optic cables, the more Media conglomerates make money. But also, consider that the cheaper they can produce this content, the bigger their profits.

If you still cannot see what is wrong with this picture, let me spell it out:

Content producers see their growth prospects in cutting content production costs, which results in crappier content, which is then sold to us in bigger quantities.

From Third World to First: Singapore Elder Statesman Lee Kuan Yew's insights on Filipinos

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My colleague Orion had acted on a brilliant idea and posted on AntiPinoy.com an excerpt from Singapore's Elder Statesman, Lee Kuan Yew's (LKY) great book: From Third World to First: The Singapore Story. We take it for granted that material and accounts like these are so readily available for all to learn from but forget (1) how books are prohibitively expensive to most Filipinos and (2) how most Filipinos lack any inclination to read books to begin with. So kudos to Orion for making the next best thing available on line. Check out LKY's revealing insights on the character of Philippine society on AntiPinoy.com.

The Black Nazarene fiesta and Filipinos' fascination with crowding

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Ain't it quaint how 1.7 million people would troop to Manila for a chance to catch a glimpse and possibly -- hoping against hope -- touch the "revered" Black Nazarene figurine. I don't get it. How is this crowding around a relic different, say, from the 30,000 Filipinos who trooped to the ULTRA stadium to see an episode of Wowowee live and, later, stampeded all over one another and literally trampled the shit out of 78 such hopefuls?

The "noisy minority" Noynoy prefers not to hear

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In a toast to a "better 2011", Philippine President Benigno "Nonoy" Aquino III referred to a "noisy minority" as one of two challenges faced by the country in the months ahead. According to Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigal Valte, this was made as "a statement of fact". This she said in defense of her boss who made the glib statement in front of "members of the diplomatic corps, Cabinet, judiciary, Congress, bureaucracy, and civil society representatives and several members of minority group in the House of Representatives".

The coming Fifth Anniversary of ABS-CBN's Wowowee Stampede tragedy

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The 4th of February 2011 will mark the fifth anniversary of that monumental tragedy that happened in the PhilSports "ULTRA" Stadium in Pasig, Metro Manila where 78 people died in a stampede for tickets to see ABS-CBN's hit television show Wowowee. It ranks up there along with the same sort of mass-casualty disasters that happen onli in da Pinas, except that unlike tragedies involving killer Sulpicio Line ships, homicidal mud slides that bury entire towns in Leyte, and murderous floods caused by storm drains clogged by human refuse, the Wowowee massacre happened on a nice sunny day.

Roundabouts to "solve" Manila traffic - a microcosm of flawed Filipino thinking

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Roundabouts (or "rotundas" as they are more commonly known as in the Philippines) are being touted by the cash-strapped Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) as "an alternative measure to ease traffic congestion". According to a "simulation study", the MMDA foresees a "200% increase in the speed" of areas where roundabouts can be successfully implemented. ABS-CBN News reports that MMDA spokesperson Tina Velasco expects the following specific benefits coming from the increased use of roundabouts in Metro Manila's intersections:

ABS-CBN reports on Boracay debauchery, dabbles in the sexploitation sex scandal genre

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Oh the horrors! People caught making out and having sex on the beaches of Boracay! ABS-CBN News for the first time beat the Catholic Bishops in the game of huffing and puffing about sin and scandal in its "exclusive" report on Boracay beach debauchery caught on video. Star of 1996 sexploitation film Ang pinakamagandang hayop sa balat ng lupa Ruffa Gutierrez also chimed in...

Three reasons why Noynoy's trust rating is suspect

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It is now quite generally established that the administration of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is being held up by the Philippine Media as one that is "trusted" by the people. The question is: Does the Noynoy administration deserve the trust of the Filipino?

Enough spin and bullshit: Measuring success and failure using key performance indicators

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Politicians are quick to grandstand about their achievements and their "contributions" to the development of our wretched land, the Philippines. Whenever statistics about the economy or survey results describing public sentiment is released, politicians will go on a media blitz to ensure that an association between these and themselves are implanted in the vacuous minds of their constituents. Retrospective narrative about statistics is easy. But it takes real courage and conviction to use statistics as prospective measures of future performance.

The tired tradition of cliché in every New Year message of "hope"

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As the New Year rolls in, every man and his dog is issuing messages of "hope" for the coming Year 2011 and "reviews" of the past Year 2010, presumably entertaining the notion that some sort of wisdom applicable to the future lies in the past. That's fine of course, considering ours is a society with an extensive track record of failure as far as learning from the past is concerned.

What is disturbing, however, is how the Government dances around with pompons trumpeting the good fortunes Filipinos can "expect" from 2011 simply on the basis of the character who happens to be sitting in Malacanang and the "reforms" he supposedly "plans" to pursue. Worse, Filipinos, as has been usual in the last 50 years, have been conditioned to look to Government for their salvation -- always ready to credit a single leader for their fortunes or blame him or her for their troubles.