What Would It Take for the Philippines to Become a Developed Country

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Welcome to the Philippines, a tropical paradise with a populace known to the world as hardworking, hospitable and fun-loving yet, as a nation, can be considered dysfunctional.

We Filipinos complain about how poor and corrupt our country is but that’s all we do; complain. We long for a decent government and a productive economy yet we’d rather form ourselves into raging rallies than take matters into our own hands. We rant about traffic and rule breakers yet we ourselves would rather jaywalk (and risk a hit-and-run accident) than cross at the right moments and pedestrian lanes. The mouths do more whining than the hands do aiding and improving.

Many of us can proudly say, “Pinoy ako!” with our chests out but internally we’re willing work like slaves just to be labeled American citizens. Some Filipino families in the United States go as far as not wanting their children to learn Tagalog. Adolescent girls who squeal at their favorite Korean heartthrobs and try hard to look Asian are quite irritating.

These little things may seem irrelevant to national development but, when viewed at a grander scale, are crucial in helping the Philippines take a huge step to becoming a developed country. We must entrust the future of our country not to the government alone but to ourselves, the citizens, as well.

Not poverty, corruption nor overpopulation is a barricade to progress. First-world countries such as the United States and Japan also deal with these imperfections. To eradicate these persistent problems a snowflake's chance in spring. They are among the given and can never be cast aside from the equation.

For the Philippines to become a developed country there are three vital characteristics its citizens need to have; discipline, nationalism and efficiency.

Discipline should be the loveliest jewel in the Philippine crown yet at the moment it has the filthiest smear. It’s not uncommon to see pedestrians crossing under an overpass or people littering even when a “No Littering” sign is in sight. The bad thing is Filipinos are known to be rule breakers or in colloquial Tagalog, pasaway. The worse thing is many Filipinos even boast being pasaway. This obvious lack of discipline is an added hole to a sinking ship. It may not seem a big deal to toss a cigarette butt away but simply imagine if all or most of the 88 million Filipinos continued being stubborn and pasaway. It wouldn’t be a mystery why the Philippines is so chaotic. It’s like a herd of dumb sheep led without a shepherd. Then again, let’s also imagine if most Filipinos follow road rules, pay their taxes precisely and punctually and practice their civil and human rights properly. What if our politicians can practice enough self-discipline to allocate an ample amount of the funds for national benefit and not into their own already loaded pockets? Think of the alleviated everyday predicaments which can spell peace and order.

The Philippines should also convert its masses from an obstacle to an advantage. Let’s be like a colony of ants wherein, no matter how numerous, everyone has a role to play and work to do thus leading to a fruitful nation. Like a grain of rice one alone is futile but when joined with a million other grains can feed an impoverished settlement.

Filipinos should also sharpen their saws in the nationalism department. As mentioned above many of us can sing “Ako ay Pilipino” with that emotional tone and the dramatically closing eyes yet are swayed by western culture, entertainment and trends. Being nationalistic doesn’t merely mean learning your Philippine history and acknowledging your Filipino citizenship. Nationalism is acting and deciding for the benefit of your country. A native Chinese would sacrifice his family and possessions for the good of his country. A native Filipino on the other hand would yearn to live abroad for his wife, children, bank account and career, eventually abandoning his home soil and fellow countrymen.

At the end of World War II, Japan was as depleted as a fire hydrant after a general alarm. It lost so much funds paying for the damages they've done during the war. Had the Japanese not practiced strict discipline, united themselves and worked as a nation, they would have been as pitiful as a fourth-world country. Had they not persevered and patronized their own culture and products, they would have been left behind the marathon of development. Their strong sense of nationalism pushed them through hardships and now Japan is a major economic power and a member of the Group of Eight which represents about 65% of the world economy. Can the Philippines not do and be the same?

I’m not saying we should give up our future and personal goals for our country and put ourselves and our families last. We should definitely not neglect ourselves but not to the point of pushing our country out the circle of concern. Let us follow Japan’s example and instill a sense of nationalism in our hearts. After all, what you give for your country will eventually be returned to you in a bigger parcel.

Lastly, the Philippines should learn to use its assets in an efficient manner. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “efficiency” as “being productive of desired effects especially without waste.” Currently, we try so hard to be industrial and advanced that we disregard our natural resources and even knowingly let foreigners benefit from them. This trying-hard-to-be-hi-tech mentality is like wanting to learn Algebra without even knowing addition tables.

Instead of owing again and again from the World Bank and other developed countries thus pushing us deeper into the abyss of debt, we should utilize our natural resources and not overlook them. Economically speaking they belong to the Philippines alone. If sold to the local market, the money would circulate within the country. Local business firms will earn more from farmers living in far-flung areas who will also benefit from this circulation. Farmers and other agricultural workers in developed countries are well-paid since they're aware of the importance of natural resources.

Tourism, by all means, should also be heavily commercialized with neon lights to further promote and enrich our country. Many other nations such as Singapore don't have adequate natural resources yet generate income through tourism. France is the highest maker in this case. Tourism is like a Swiss Army Knife as it has many capabilities. It provides global awareness of our country's beauty, rakes in the foreign currencies and only a small amount of resources are spent. That's three birds with one stone.

The Philippines is a developing country and it's on its way up the economic ladder only with impasses in its way. As long as there's discipline, nationalism and efficiency, being a developed country is possible. As Confucius said, it doesn't matter how long you take, as long as you get there.

Note: This was written around November 2007 as an entry to an essay writing contest with the same theme. Unfortunately, I ran past the deadline.

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Jiea Dee
Journalism graduate who became a seller of auto parts rather than a writer, her dream career. She has then revised her plan to make turn writing, instead of a living, to a hobby.
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