#Filipino old-timer recounts the squander of the #Philippines' head start

It is not only that we are nobody in the world stage, in fact, it is a scary proposition to be carrying a Philippine passport these days. If you are observant in airports, you will notice that immigration officers allow other nationalities to go through in less than a minute. With our passport, they take over two minutes, especially when queues are not that long; and if that airport happens to be either Hong Kong, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Rome, Chicago, or New Jersey, which all seem to be the strictest when they encounter our passport, there is a likelihood you will asked into a nice side room for a 15-minute interview before they let you thru..

It wasn't always like this, and my grandpa could attest to that. We just had a big family reunion for his 98th birthday last September, and the topic of the party was similar to what we have here. Grandpa is still quite lucid even if his body has obviously been fast deteriorating lately. Funny that when almost all the family members were seated around him for what seemed like over three hours expecting to hear what might be his last will, he just ranted in his typical baritone hoarse voice how he was afraid for his grandchildren. Interesting that the write-up seem to imply a cut-off period about the time of Marcos when there was major shift in PHL. Grandpa thought the same thing.

Grandpa said that the biggest mistake of Marcos was when he meddled with industries. PHL had the first integrated steel mill in South East Asia, but FM instead exiled the Jacintos. PHL had the first and most competitive airline in Asia, but allowed a crony to run it very badly. PHL had the most advanced textile and garment industry in Asia, a top 3 exporter to the US, but FM milked the industry so much that it dis-incentivise any initiative to further modernize. FM further killed this when he tried to monopolize the nylon yarn raw material through the factory of the Disinis in La Union. When producers of artificial sweeteners started their PR campaign against sugar, FM did not fight back when sugar was a top dollar earner, but was more interested in making PhilSuCom through the Benedictos capture a trading monopoly. When the German JVs of palm oil in Malaysia and Indonesia also started similar campaign against coconut oil, FM again just stoodby because he wanted to make sure Danding had the trading monopoly in coconut. PHL was a major rice exporter, and that is why IRRI is here, but again FM was more interested in trading monopoly thru NFA and didn't do anything to help the rice farmers advance to modernity. Every farm to market road was built to accumulate more tongpats. Of course, Grandpa will never forget that FM grabbed his magnetite iron mines in the north via a dubious law. Grandpa hates every inch that is Japanese and he was happy that he managed to sell his products to the likes of Sumitomo, Mitsubishi, etc at exhorbitant prices as a way of getting back at them who ravaged the country in WWII. To this day, he feels that PHL should get together to surpass Japan, which he felt we had all the chance prior to the greed of FM setting in. He recalls some of these with tears in his eyes.

And when he would rest from talking, he would call from time to time one of his now grown-up and mature grandchildren at random just to hold their arms tightly or to hug them, tears also flowed freely. To all of them, he had one word: "Please be strong. Don't be discourage. Philippines is not like this." Grandpa could not believe what has happened to PHL. When it is not FM trying to destroy the country, it is Filipino themselves doing it. There was a time when every multinational company had a manufacturing or banking unit in PHL. We were a major hub in Asia. Of course, FM could not touch these companies. But, it was the labor unions turn to ravage the country. Backed by the CPP/ NPA network, strikes became rampant and most were so unreasonable. They were made to appear as fighting for labor, but with time, it became more and more obvious that their ulterior motive was to kick out of the country all the multinationals, who were of course immediately welcome by Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Grandpa looks at Singapore with envy, which he said was just a backwater, but has become the hub for oil and banking. And, with China becoming the world power, Singapore will be the topmost player for it is poised to be the hub for renminbis. That is why Grandpa's blood boils every time he sees on TV these leaders who are permanent fixtures of street protests. He said they are criminals who should be tried for crimes against humanity. Every jobless Filipino should have chance to give one punch each to the face or stomach of these leaders.

He also suspects that the Left were the ones behind the move to remove English and Spanish from schools, which to him is a big, big mistake. Although he reads mostly religious books now for he says he is now obviously in the departure lounge and has to know more about how he, who was terrible sinner in his younger days, should be meeting this Fellow on the other side, he still laments that we have cut off the entire country from knowledge. Grandpa loved literatures and thinks the youth are missing a lot — probably the reason why they could only love moronic TV shows. It is even more incredulous for him that PHL is now the sin city of the world. "How could we allow them to screw our girls, when it was us Filipinos who went to Seoul, Osaka, Taipei, Kaoshung, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Penang, and Singapore if one wanted a good screw." To him, this indeed is the sign that we have reached rock-bottom — we are the disgusting filth of the world. The rise in criminality, of course, pisses him no end for Grandpa hates bolted doors and closed windows. He loves fresh air and does not like air conditioning. He is fond of recalling the days when he could just sit in the front veranda, wave and welcome anybody to the house because there were no high walls that separated neighbors, sleep or leave the house without even closing the doors, and walk the streets even on a moonless night feeling safe.

Therefore, I say, if Philippines disappeared from the map, some people will say: good riddance.

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