I’m supposed to be in Ayala Avenue (Makati) right now hobnobbing with the Cory crowd, hurling invectives against the Arroyo government. Instead, I’m here in Alabang Town Center waiting for my time to watch Zhang Ziyi in “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Make no mistake about it; I’m a political animal and I care for this country. I do believe, however, that another “people power” will solve not solve this country’s problems. It will only confirm our status as an amusing banana republic in an era when the original banana republics of the Caribbean and Latin America have matured out of it.
I had my own marches and rallies in my student days but I was never a participant of any EDSA uprising. When EDSA I took place, I was living a blessed life doing research on Mindanao’s crop industries. I rejoiced when Ferdinand Marcos left for Hawaii for it gave me a sense of justices, nay vengeance, for the lives of my friends and acquaintances who died fighting Marcos’ henchmen as “revolutionaries.” But right now I’m having mixed feelings about the legacies of People Power 1.
Greater freedom of expression, vibrant media, fast growing services sector, modern telecommunications industry. These are the positive legacies of EDSA 1. In 1976, I remember that 40 percent of our exports are coconut products. Now, almost 70 percent of our exports are electronics. Now we have a vibrant services industry that’s creating lots of job opportunities for college graduates. On the other hand, EDSA 1 gave us those pseudo-nationalistic policies that that is still hampering the full potentials of the economy. We can’t maximize the benefits from outsourcing (e.g. call centers) because our command of the English language has deteriorated since we enshrined in our Constitution the use of “Filipino” as a medium of instruction in schools. In truth, Filipino is nothing but an imposition of Tagalog as the “national language” in a country where there are 87 major ethnolinguistic groups. Imperial Manila—that’s how we call it in Mindanao. We simply should have stuck to using the English language in schools and official communications.
In the last decade, the services sector (e.g. professional services, trade, banking, communications, transportation, information technology, business services) has been growing quite well despite the rambunctious politics. We could have grown much faster had we totally done away with limits to foreign investments. In the name of protecting the public interest, we put limits to foreign equity participation in the services sector. In reality, we are actually just protecting the oligarchy that’s been monopolizing power in the Philippine political economy. But we can’t reform it right now because it’ enshrined in the Philippine constitution. Oh my! That piece of paper is preventing us from getting the full benefits of a globalizing world.
I’ll watch the movie now; more on this next post.