Author Topic: A harsh, eye-opening retrospective about the Philippines 22 years ago  (Read 33398 times)

Joe Carillo

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When I provided a link in the Forum to James Fallows’ recent Atlantic Monthly article, “How America Can Rise Again,” I came across a piece he had written about the Philippines in 1987, ““A Damaged Culture: A New Philippines?” I remember that this article—it later became a finalist for the National Magazine Award in the United States—generated a lot of controversy because of its blunt, often decidedly harsh criticism of the Philippines and the national administration at the time. I think it’s a must-read for Filipinos who want to know how they are seen through foreign eyes, and who want to figure out what has changed in the national situation between now and 22 years ago.

“A Damaged Culture: A New Philippines?” by James Fallows
« Last Edit: September 17, 2022, 12:29:08 PM by Joe Carillo »

maxsims

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Re: A harsh, eye-opening retrospective about the Philippines 22 years ago
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2010, 11:42:00 AM »
Read Fallows's article.    Apart from the population, how little has changed!

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Re: A harsh, eye-opening retrospective about the Philippines 22 years ago
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2010, 09:02:02 AM »
That's horrifying...  :o

*Sigh*...when are we ever gonna get out of the rut we're in?

renzphotography

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Re: A harsh, eye-opening retrospective about the Philippines 22 years ago
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2010, 08:30:57 PM »

It takes people who have lived in the Philippines from the 80's until the present day to really tell if there have been improvements and there were many, especially in the way public service is delivered to the masses.

The article is dated and the observations were quite valid. However, instead of making generalizations I would rather go point-by-point in identifying how much the government has improved in delivering public service through the many regimes since Marcos over two and a half decades ago.

Social security benefits (SSS) have increased.

Housing loan benefits (Pag-Ibig) have increased.

Processing licenses and certifications have been computerized (LTO, NSO, NBI) and fast tracked.

Health care benefits improved through Philhealth and local government health cards like Makati's yellow card.

Passport processing has been streamlined.


Other improvements brought about by government policy are listed below:


Telecommunication services have become more efficient and market driven since Pres. Ramos attacked the PLDT monopoly.

The price of medicine has gone down dramatically since Pres. Erap's generic drugs law.

The oil cartels have been tamed by several smaller players due to oil deregulation since Pres. Ramos.

The remuneration packages of soldiers, the police force, and teachers have been upgraded.

The processing of transactions in the stock market have been automated and linked to stock markets abroad.

The VAT taxation system has simplified the tax collection for many products.

Water utilities have been privatized and are now operating more efficiently.


No doubt, there were many improvement brought by policy changes and better delivery of services to the public. The biggest question however is if the changes are felt in the rural areas as much as in cities.




madgirl09

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Re: A harsh, eye-opening retrospective about the Philippines 22 years ago
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2010, 12:05:01 PM »
For James Fallow to present an overview of the Philippine situation at that time, he could have lived in the Philippines for a long long time. But actually, even those who never set foot in the Philippines, because of popularity of the Philippines in human rights violations during the Marcos Regime would have a near exact description of the anomalies in the government. Thanks to foreign media. Without the foreign watchdogs constantly criticizing the government, it could have been worse.

Renz, thanks for your listing of topics. We could talk about EACH if you want. Talking about SSS and Pag-ibig, about how many of the entire population is benefited by these? I was a fulltime worker that time so I had SSS. Other workers had it too, but the janitors, farmers, and other lowly wokers were never assisted. The rest of the people working in our community never had a chance to apply due to the nature of their work and inability to pay the monthly dues. I could see in our town website links to a speedy application of this and that service like Pag-ibig, as well as processing of taxes and other tariffs. What is very amusing is their very organized and efficient way of collecting taxes, but disappointing implementation of community programs. Again, only a few in this level-4 municipality could afford to be a member of such services. When would the day come for everyone to receive due benefits? Most of the improvement you mentioned are just for the middle and the struggling classes of the society. The ultimate poor are neglected and misguided.

madgirl...still

renzphotography

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Re: A harsh, eye-opening retrospective about the Philippines 22 years ago
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2010, 07:34:06 PM »

Hi Madgirl,

I have worked with foreign media practitioners and I know their weaknesses and strengths. To say the least, they will always focus on the big headline-type news but they will never focus on the smaller news items that will only interest the locals and never foreign audience.

Unfortunately, the small news bits are the ones that impact the lives of the common people daily and these are the stories best covered by local media.

Quite frankly, considering the way James Fallow wrote his piece I would say that it is the type of feature that does not require physical presence in the country. He could have written it from the comfort of his armchair using secondary information.

However, it is not my intention to question his integrity or the veracity of his report, instead, it is my wish to point out that there have been many changes since the time the article was written--yet this is not to say that the work is over because much remains to be done.

Indeed, pushing the delivery of government services to the grassroots level especially in the rural areas remain a major challenge. While the government is capitalizing in various technologies to improve the service delivery (like the internet) there are cases when even the method of delivery could be the bottleneck itself.

Imagine how an old man who spent most of his life in the uplands of a remote mountain apply for SSS via the internet? Well, not to say that the idea of using the internet is wrong but for certain much work is left to be done.


maxsims

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Re: A harsh, eye-opening retrospective about the Philippines 22 years ago
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2010, 06:19:59 AM »
Gee, Renz,

I dare say the people in the back blocks of Zambales (and quite a few other regions) will be thrilled to learn that their kids (about half of whom never see the inside of a school) are able to make their stock market transactions and buy their overseas airline tickets via the internet.   After, of course, obtaining their passports in a flash.   Those same parents, most of whom couldn't afford a home loan in a thousand years and who have likely never heard of SSS, will happily relay the news to their kids that the water utilities are now operating more efficiently - before, of course, sending them with a bucket to the local pump.   

maxsims

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Re: A harsh, eye-opening retrospective about the Philippines 22 years ago
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2010, 06:27:32 AM »
Whoops!    Hit the wrong key!    Sorry.

I was about to add that these same parents will be equally happy to tell their kids how costly medicines were in the bad old days.    "Now," they will say, "I can front up to the pharmacy counter and buy three, four, and sometimes even five antibiotic tablets when you become ill..!"

Of course, if the parents are unhappy with their kids' lot in life, they can always send them to Manila and the rich pickings of Smoky Mountain.

Join the real world, Renz.

renzphotography

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Re: A harsh, eye-opening retrospective about the Philippines 22 years ago
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2010, 07:49:25 AM »

Well Maxims, no doubt the Philippines is far from becoming a developed country but that does not mean there were no improvements in the past few decades.

However, I believe it is you who need to see the real world. Perhaps you should be aware that so many people from first world countries like South Korea, Britain, and the USA are coming over to "poorer" countries like the Philippines for a more affordable cost of living.

You may want to visit Makati Medical Hospital and you will be surprised to see the numerous foreigners who flew over just to get medical attention that they otherwise could not afford in their home countries. The country is fast catching up in medical tourism.

The reality is most western countries--Australia included--are suffering from a deteriorating social security net. This phenomenon is driven by factors such as a rapidly aging population, spiking health care benefits, less young people to support the system, and just recently, economies that turned belly up.

If you think the country's situation is bleak then try telling that to an aging American with medical bills that shot up 400 percent, who lives in a neighborhood where the crime rate is high, with pension benefits cut down, and who is probably worried about how he will pay for his home mortgage.

Whether it is case of a rural Filipino who moves to Manila, or a British who migrates to poorer countries like the Philippines just remember this:

It is normal and it is a source of pride for people from poor locations to migrate to rich locations to have a better life; but it is rather shameful for people from rich countries to migrate to poor countries just to survive.



« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 08:06:41 AM by renzphotography »

maxsims

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Re: A harsh, eye-opening retrospective about the Philippines 22 years ago
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2010, 09:09:34 AM »
And this justifies the enormous gap between the few rich and the overwhelmingly numerous poor in the Philippines?

No-one is saying that there haven't been improvements in the past thirty years, but the fact remains:  they have been few, and mostly they benefit the "haves" and not the "have-nots".

renzphotography

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Re: A harsh, eye-opening retrospective about the Philippines 22 years ago
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2010, 04:37:42 PM »

That was not a justification but a mere explanation on why social safety nets are important and why people move away from their homes in search of a better life.

It is quite understandable why a foreigner like you could not understand how these developments have impacted the lives of ordinary people.

All countries, even the most developed ones have problems of their own. And just because a country is advanced its people has no right to deride societies of less developed ones.

While there is such a thing as freedom of speech, please, do not play with bricks in a glass house.

maxsims

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Re: A harsh, eye-opening retrospective about the Philippines 22 years ago
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2010, 07:33:24 PM »
It is quite understandable why a foreigner like you could not understand how these developments have impacted the lives of ordinary people.

My dear Renz,

Over the past six years, I have travelled extensively, probably more than you have, about your country, mainly in Luzon.   Even being a foreigner, I have understood how these "developments" have not impacted the lives of ordinary people.

While there is such a thing as freedom of speech, please, do not play with bricks in a glass house.

The idiom is:  People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.   If you are implying that there is restricted freedom of speech in Australia, I suggest you compare the survival rates of journalists in both countries.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2010, 01:20:36 PM by maxsims »

madgirl09

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Re: A harsh, eye-opening retrospective about the Philippines 22 years ago
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2010, 10:15:13 PM »
Oh my....can we move on to another focus and direction? Let's shift from arguing to suggesting ways to speed up progress in sectors that need attention.

For me, not all changes translate to "improvement". I think, we all have our own definitions of progress, improvement and changes. Our status, role and nature of work also affect the way we see life and society.

Everyone, can we just share or list TEN best ways to help a developing nation (like the Philippines) attain true progress for all its citizens? For you, what should be changed or considered. There's no need to explain each point (or contradict other people's views).

Here's what I can say:
1. Policy makers must review current needs of the country first before initiating changes.
2. The country must focus on protecting, improving and utilizing its own resources.
3. Education and continuing education with results must also be a priority.
4. The citizens must stop thinking "politics" and considering it as the only solution to have power.
5. Develop indigenous inventions and products and promote patronage of such products.
6. Encourage bright citizens to stay in the country to effect changes (stop brain drain.)
7. Learn from other nations' mistakes and copy good examples.
8. Eradicate corruption and corrupt leaders.
9. The society must stop condoning leaders' bad practices.
10. Improve law and order as well as the judicial system.

Lots of things more, but here are the top 10 concerns... ::) Hmmn. I think some are overlapping.
madgirlgettingconfused :-[

maxsims

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Re: A harsh, eye-opening retrospective about the Philippines 22 years ago
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2010, 11:49:13 AM »
Good one, Madgirl..!    Is that list in priority order?   Were it mine, I would have your No. 9 on top, closely pursued by 8 and 10.   Achieve those and the rest will follow.

renzphotography

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Re: A harsh, eye-opening retrospective about the Philippines 22 years ago
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2010, 07:59:42 PM »

The murder of Filipino journalists is a criminal act that is done contrary to the prevailing laws of the land. However, the Australian government had systemically sent to concentration camps as a policy Aborigines and even British kids.

And if you think the worse is over just take a look at the recent racist attacks to foreigners in that country.

Australia to apologize for state care of children 
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=500764&publicationSubCategoryId=200

UN condemns Aboriginal treatment
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8223881.stm

Australian racism 'still serious'
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7641158.stm

'Race' attacks spark Indian rally
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8075855.stm

Indian man attacked and set alight in Melbourne
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8449731.stm

And these Australians have the galls to criticize other peoples?

I know a lot of Americans, Japanese and even British people who are polite and careful not to criticize other societies because they are fully aware that their societies suffer from problems such as homeless people, organized crime, and others.

« Last Edit: January 22, 2010, 08:07:44 PM by renzphotography »