Quo Vadis, Pilipinas? (Part 2) | Inquirer Opinion

Quo Vadis, Pilipinas? (Part 2)

12:30 AM March 10, 2023

I ended Part 1 of my “Quo Vadis” with this often-repeated conclusion:

“Our very weakness stifles freedom and disables democracy. There remains little room now to blame others because our ignorance is gone. Only we can grow our capacity and rise above our dependency.”


Yes, we can always blame others but it will just be useless venting, if not justification for more procrastination. In the end, it will matter only because the dependency we hate in our lives will just extend indefinitely. Those who benefit from our anomalous setup would want to perpetuate the dependency of the majority. Those who are prejudiced would, of course, like to change the course of history. But how?

One traditional pathway has been revolution as understood and advocated by the Left. The Left is more popularly labeled as communists by those who are not – which is the vast majority of Filipinos. I seriously doubt if the hardcore communists in the Left truly adhere to and can promote the purity of Marxism. Somehow, too many facets of modernity are changing the very fundamental basis that Karl Marx stood on.


It is not to say that a communist option is not better for the majority of Filipinos considering that the same majority continue to feel lost in the dream of a bright future. For too long, those born into poverty generation after generation are still in it. Being humans, being Filipinos in a naturally rich country, they deserve much better than what they have been getting.

Communism is not a guarantee just as Western democracy has not been either. There is the frying pan just as there is the fire as well. It is not an ideological choice for most Filipinos who understand little about communism and democracy. People understand hunger and sickness. People understand abuse. When they have had too much of these, they will act. And only time can tell where we will go from there.

That is why we must try to confront our true malaise – our gross inability to take care of ourselves with subsidy from a government that is also dependent on our collective contributions. We must focus on what each of us can contribute rather than what each one of us can get. And our contribution consists of what we can produce, what we can manufacture, what essential service we can give.

This is not a matter of a Filipino First mentality except if that means Filipino being the first to produce what we need. Buying Filipino before buying what comes from other countries assumes there are enough Filipino-made products. Filipino-First should be changed to Filipinos-Producing-First, and deliberately following that vision from the home to the workplace.

Leading Filipinos to be producers as a matter of culture will take generations. We have to reverse our almost totally consumerist disposition, and that means parents beginning the transformation in the home, the school enhancing it, and government making the move a flagship mission and vision. Will government understand this? Will the elite support the empowerment of the masa?

The basic theory is simple. It rests on the design of human development just as the Earth rests on the design of the universal ecology. As we are learning with every new discovery, human development and governance have more than enough experience, especially the painful ones, to guide towards better alternatives. Sadly, those who exploit also learn from their lessons – that they prosper where human misery is abundant.

Every set of parents see a natural path for their children. They know that children must grow out of dependency and grow into capacity. Government is no different. Government knows that citizens must grow out of dependency and grow into capacity. That is supposed to be what education is for – to grow the capacity of students so they can stand on their own. I think government believes that this is its role, but I also believe they have not been efficient and effective.


Government cannot reduce poverty by unrealistically lowering the poverty line. But government can reduce poverty for sure by raising the productivity line. What people produce that they can consume, whether agricultural products or industrial items, makes them more independent and the country stronger. Combined with our already strong service sector, we inch forward to our self-sufficiency.

Because until we are empowering ourselves towards self-sufficiency, we can never succeed in the path towards self-determination. I have been asked about EDCA and how it impacts on foreign relations. Ideally, the Philippines would be expressing that it wants to be a friend to all and an enemy to no one. That, however, is impossible.

Our dependency allows many countries to pull us in several directions. We cater to them because of our needs, not they catering to us. The world is not run on ideals. The world is run by power and by wealth – both of which we want but need to dance to the beat of those who have. Neutrality is not a choice we have. It is only for the self-sufficient, it is only for the brave.

Experts from the United States and China have been warning everybody else that these two countries are on a collision course. Some have said that the collision can come as early as 2025. A frightening scenario. More frightening, though, is that most Filipinos are not even aware of that, or the harsh conditions we will find ourselves in should that collision happen.

I believe some officials in our government see the same scenario but are constrained to keep quiet – maybe to avoid panic in the land. Whether an armed conflict will happen soon or later, the Philippines cannot not be neutral. Filipinos can stand firm only by holding on to the power and wealth of others. We will be swayed by the demands of our major benefactors, maybe more than our own preferences.

We are not in a good place, but that is where we are.

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TAGS: China, communism, democracy, foreign policy, politics, Poverty, United States
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