Big dreams

- Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) - October 31, 2014 - 12:00am

A favorite theme in many of my e-groups where guys my age rant daily is how our country has been left behind. Everyone is agreed that corruption has done the country in. But worse than that, we didn’t get leaders who knew how to dream big and lay the foundations to get that dream to reality even beyond their watch.

We had nothing like Malaysia 2020 of Dr. Mahathir! He was highly opinionated but he had this big dream of Malaysia exiting the Third World and becoming an industrial country by 2020. He kicked ass to lay the foundations and exited as prime minister only when he was confident his successors could carry on the job.

The closest we have had is FVR. But unfortunately, FVR got waylaid towards the end of his term, perhaps a disappointed reaction to the negative public reception to the idea of charter change to allow him a second term.

FVR’s claim to fame is being the monopoly buster and was a rousing success in getting PLDT to shape up by opening telecoms to competition. But FVR wavered in his anti monopoly zeal when he instructed SBMA not to award port management to Hutchison and rebid and “disregard all arguments about monopoly.”

As Mahathir, Lee Kuan Yew and Park Chung Hee showed us, a developing country like ours needs a national leader with big dreams about the country and the determination to see it through. China had Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping in succession with complementary big dreams. Jose Rizal wrote about the Philippines a Century Hence a big dream about the country’s future. He was shot at the Luneta.

No one else after Rizal dared to have big dreams of the future. All the presidents we have had had big dreams only for themselves, their families and cronies. Neither do any of the pretenders to the presidency through the years really have had big dreams worthy enough or comparable to the Big Dreams of the regional leaders who overtook us.       

No, the slogan The Philippines can be great again, does not count. It isn’t a big dream but a propaganda device to justify one man dictatorship that allowed the pillage of the country, a travesty that’s not been properly redressed to this date.

Big dreams are important as many successful corporate leaders will tell you. Those who have read enough management books will remember BHAG or the Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

The term ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’ was proposed by James Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1994 book entitled Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. It is a strategic business statement that is like, but more than a vision statement. The BHAG aims to focus an organization “on a single medium-long term organization-wide goal which is audacious, likely to be externally questionable, but not internally regarded as impossible.”

A BHAG is supposed to encourage companies to define visionary goals that are strategic and also emotionally compelling. BHAG is supposed to help align employees of the business to work together more effectively. A good example is Google’s BHAG: Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. They are certainly getting that done.

Collins and Porras define a BHAG as “...an audacious 10-to-30-year goal to progress towards an envisioned future.” Collins and Porras explain that “a true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.” For example, Malaysia 2020!

We have never had that as a country. What is a good BHAG for our country today? Maybe for starters… to lift a majority of Filipinos now in poverty out of poverty in a six year term? Six years is about as long term as we can get now.

Everything else will then follow… from education reforms, health funding, infrastructure investment, etc. Our five year plans have bits and pieces and numbers  that are meaningless to most Filipinos… but no overriding BHAG to focus our eyes and minds on.

Our problem is that we flit from problem to crisis to problem, day in and day out and are just happy to survive the day. DOTC faces the high probability the MRT will derail everyday as normal instead of working to fix the system or even discard the system in totality and get a new one.

In my recently ended corporate career, it was all about BHAG. ABS-CBN is not a broadcast company. It is a content provider across all media that includes broadcast but also cinema, the web, live concerts and now, mobile and not just in the Philippines but wherever Pinoys are in the world. We had a bigger BHAG actually, but the telecoms part fumbled badly because of strategic management mistakes aggravated by the wrath of a financial crisis.

BHAG came to my mind as I pondered 2016. Will we get a candidate with a  BHAG we can identify with? If news reports are accurate or not totally false, at least one candidate seems to have nurtured a BHAG all his life… from poverty to hundreds of hectares of manicured gardens, piggery, aviary and what have you that’s pretty impressive.




Indeed most of our politicians have had rags to riches stories brought about by their personal BHAGs that have nothing to do with the country’s development. Maybe, we should ask candidates to give us an idea of how they see the Philippines a century hence. Or if that’s too far off, a half century hence.

Hearing their BHAGs for the country may help us decide who to vote for in 2016. They could lie about it or make it a mere PR document but at least they would have spent even a few minutes thinking about it. That would be more than they have done in their lives. 

PNOC abolition

 There are news reports that the Governance Commission for Government owned and controlled Corporations (GCG) had recommended and Malacanang has approved the abolition of PNOC Alternative Fuels Corporation. Among reasons cited is how the company has diverted its mandate from seeking alternative fuels to running an energy industrial park in Bataan.

I worked at PNOC for over a decade, reporting to its first CEO, Ronnie Velasco so I know pretty much what it is all about. I think the GCG got it wrong. They should abolish PNOC, the mother company instead. If you want an example of a company that does nothing much, if any at all, but is very expensive to maintain, that’s PNOC mother. During our days, it only had one employee, Ronnie Velasco, the chairman.

PNOC the mother company is just a holding company. It merely receives the dividends from its subsidiaries like the Malampaya royalties of PNOC Exploration Corporation and whatever income PNOC AFC makes. It then remits some of that to the National Treasury. If we got rid of PNOC the mother company, there will be no overhead, no extra directors’ fees and the National Treasury can get the full amounts.

PNOC AFC probably deserves to be trashed too or have a change of name to reflect what it is actually doing now… industrial estate management. It is a big failure while under a brother of DOTC Sec Jun Abaya in propagating jatropha after wasting about a billion pesos under the GMA administration.

It apparently got a new mandate to manage the industrial estate which used to be the land set aside in Bataan for a petrochemical complex. I understand they have an offer to build an LNG receiving facility, something we will need as the Malampaya reserves run out.

Since PNOC AFC is an operating company, abolishing it may have legal consequences. The loss of its juridical personality may mean revocation of its permits, licenses, delegation of authority like permit to operate jetty from PPA and business permit that are typically non-transferable.

 Surely, someone must manage the industrial estate and unfortunately, PNOC the mother company is not organized to do that job or for that matter, to do anything more than receive and disburse dividends and provide sinecures for Malacanang cronies in terms of directors and other fees.

Maybe, it makes more sense to keep PNOC AFC, an operating company and rename it the new PNOC and dissolve the mother company as we now know it. Better yet, privatize PNOC AFC and maybe save some jobs. I heard Petron may be interested.

But I totally agree that abolishing one of the PNOCs is a good way of streamlining government operations. But abolish the one with little consequential activity and that’s the mother company.  PNOC EC can directly remit Malampaya dividends to the Treasury and that makes more sense too. Of course that means friends of this administration will lose lucrative directorships at the PNOC mother company. That’s P-Noy’s Matuwid na Daan test.

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco


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