This will be my last column for the Inquirer. I won’t go into the details here, but we had a disagreement that made writing for the paper difficult.
It’s been a 10-year ride after a decade with the Manila Standard of writing on an ever-so-wide range of subjects. From politics to economics. From business to daily living. Even sneaked in a few personal bits. I enjoyed it.
I’ve never been a writer. In fact, I remember well in my first year in engineering at university, English was a required course. I asked the professor, “Why are we learning English again, I learned all I needed to know at school.” He replied, “Mr. Wallace if, and I stress if, you do graduate and become an engineer, you’ll have to write reports. We’ll be teaching you how to write reports.”
WelI, I did become an engineer and did have to write reports. Nowadays, writing is a major part of my life. Interestingly, it turns out my grandmother was a writer and the editor of a newspaper. The first woman ever. And my great-grandfather, too. My father published a regular newsletter on a bridge (he was a world champion). So it must be in my genes.
The 48 years I’ve lived in the Philippines have been a joy. Such a tumultuous country, but how can you not love it? No day is ever predictable. That makes it easy for a writer, of course, as there’s always something to comment on.
I’ve made a point of always trying to offer a solution to the issues that arise, as I see them. Hopefully, some of these have helped the decision-makers to make a decision that helped move the Philippines forward. Experience seems to say it has. My small voice has influenced some important issues.
I came here in 1975 to build a factory for an American company. Moved on to a conglomerate with a number of factories and service businesses. And then to manage a country’s largest distributor at the time. I employed thousands of Filipinos, so I got to know them well. Enough to want to be one of them. Congress under the leadership of Senate President Manny Villar and Speaker Sonny Belmonte offered me citizenship. President Benigno Aquino III signed a law granting it in 2016.
I started my own business, a think tank, in 1982 to advise CEOs of what’s happening outside their business operations. At the time, information about the environment for business was sparse. It led to me being intimately involved with the top political leaders from Cory Aquino on. It’s been a successful business, celebrating 40 years of existence.
We have a fascinating five years ahead of us where the President will face some very serious challenges to resolve. Difficult ones that will require careful skill to handle. On the international scene, top of the list will be the confrontation between the United States and China, a growingly deteriorating one. And China’s threat to annex Taiwan where we can’t help but be involved.
Domestically, it’s agriculture and education. Filipinos must eat and children must grow up to become productive citizens. Able to have a decent standard of living. Something the President has to strive for. In a fiercely competitive world, building job-creating businesses are going to be a tough task. So I’m glad the Senate agreed to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. It’s an essential step in job creation. But there’s ever so much more that must be done. The President and his economic team will have their job cut out for them in providing every Filipino with a decent, well-fed standard of living.
So I’ll remain involved as I move into my twilight years. I can’t imagine a day of being inactive. It’s not in my nature.
So I bid you all farewell from telling it LIKE IT IS in this newspaper. But will continue to TELL IT LIKE IT IS elsewhere because it’s in my nature.
Thank you all for sticking with me through the decade.