Gone are the days when journalists do really exciting work here in the Philippines. In the 80s until the 90s, foreign wires, international magazines, CNN, BBC and major American newspapers like New York Times had huge presence here. Foreign journalists were happy because they had coup attempts, mass demonstrations, raging insurgency, Sparrow units (communist assasins), and our general helplessness to feast on. Even local broadcast and print reporters were strutting around like rock stars. Yes, like rock stars and many of them (Noli de Castro, Loren Legarda) became senators of the republic.
Not anymore. We no longer get much attention from global media anymore, unless a landslide that buried thousands has occurred. But even in that department, we have to compete for the world’s attention from the wildfires in California, the drought in Sydney, flooding in Indonesia, etcetera and we don’t always win. There are super typhoons occasionally it’s not an exclusive spectacle because these freaks of nature either go to Taiwan or Vietnam after devastating some areas in the Philippines.
The Philippines has become a boring country—and that’s good. Has anybody noticed the huge difference?
That’s because we have become a normal country with very normal problems (to borrow a line from the South Africans). And that’s great!
In the last 4-5 years, we have been growing 5-6 percent in terms of GDP. In the first quarter this year, we grew by 6.9 percent. These are decent growth figures. But the world has not noticed that because it’s a normal thing. The not-so-normal thing is either a miserable 3 percent or an extremely high figure of 7-11 percent being experienced by Vietnam, India and China. We have occasional bombings and kidnappings but the world no longer cares because there are bigger, bloodier, and nastier bombings in Iraq and occasionally India, Indonesia or Pakistan. We just had a funny mid-term election but it was not exciting enough compared to the continuing drama that followed the ousting of Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand.
Yeah, the Philippines has just too boring for the global media—and that’s good for the Philippines. Low inflation, strong peso, the rise of outsourcing and electronics, real estate boom, stable industry sector—ho hum!
And that’s great for all of us.