A Filipino vision

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - April 22, 2021 - 12:00am

I do not believe that anyone would be willing to give up his life to increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. Not even the most committed and brilliant economist. I suspect that not a single Cabinet member or business tycoon would sacrifice his life to improve the economic rating of our country. I do not foresee any Central Bank governor or finance magnate that would lead an armed uprising with the objective of lowering interest rates or improving our balance of payments.

Yet, in the history of the world and in the Philippines, there were people who were willing to give up their lives for their country. Today, there are people who will join a struggle that has nothing to do with improving their personal lives.

The overwhelming majority of the Filipinos who do not live in gated villages and have never been inside a one-star hotel, unless they were employees, are not particularly interested in any particular type of leadership or charisma or economic strategy. GDP, interest rates, currency rates and other economic indicators are irrelevant unless they translate to a better life for them and their families.

Despite living in a tiger economy, his life did not improve. In fact, a typical family of four, whose breadwinner is earning minimum wage, will still live in a squatter area without the minimum amenities of life.

To the Quiapo vendor, the poor rural worker or the squatter household, the President who can improve their daily lives in terms of nutrition, shelter, education, health care and freedom from harassment will earn their loyalty even if he or she has the most boring or crudest personality in the world.

I have a very well-meaning friend who sincerely believes that the key to Philippine economic progress is to lower our cost of labor and improve labor productivity. How do you explain to the poor who comprise the majority of our working force that for our country to be richer, they must agree to remain poor or, better yet, become poorer?

Of course many of my friends who are economists and businessmen will tell me that I am too simplistic. I will again be told that the economic pie must first be enlarged before the poor can start tasting a few crumbs. Perhaps that is why the “Mang Pandoys” have stopped believing in economic technocrats.  Somehow even the best economic figures never seem to translate to a better life.

In fact, the opposite seems to have happened. Squatters now are viewed as causes of problems, obstacles to progress rather than being the main beneficiaries of economic growth. We continue to build multibillion-peso skyways for the convenience of the car riding public. Meanwhile down below, the hard toiling masses must continue to struggle with waiting on the streets or riding bicycles to work just to earn a minimum wage.

Every year we have all kinds of plans including economic, budget and education plans. Our planners focus on what to do without answering Why?

The great leaders in history were those who provided their nation with a VISION and kept true to accomplishing their vision their entire lives. A vision must be more than a rallying cry. The vision will reveal if the leader believes that investments and economic growth are the main reason for his being a leader.

The most important facet of a Philippine leader’s vision is that it must encompass the dreams and cravings of the Mang Pandoys and not just the few. A good vision must also have the following characteristics:

• Evokes a clear and positive mental image of a future state;

• Creates pride, energy and a sense of accomplishment;

• Gives meaning to the change that is expected of people;

• Is memorable, motivating and idealistic;

• Offers a view of the future that is clearly and demonstrably better;

• Fits the history, culture and values;

• Sets standards of excellence that reflect high ideals;

• Clarifies purpose and direction;

• Inspires enthusiasm and encourages commitment;

• Is ambitious and grabs attention;

• Focuses attention and guides day to day activities;

• Screens out the unessential;

• Energizes people to transcend the bottom line;

• Provides meaning and significance to daily lives;

• Bridges the present and the future; and moves people to action.

Developing a vision for the future is always difficult, emotional and oftentimes confrontational because it is an exercise that combines both the heart and the mind. However, without a vision, an organization, especially a government, will find itself engaged in confusing, incompatible and time consuming projects going in different directions or even nowhere at all.

Also, if the vision requires short-term sacrifices the people will not make those sacrifices unless they are obliged. Ultimately people will follow a person who presents them with a compelling vision of the future that can connect to their personal lives. Here is a vital component I would include in a vision for the Filipino people:

Every Filipino family or household is entitled to a living wage.

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Young Writers’ Hangout via Zoom on April 24, 2-3 p.m. with Neni Sta. Romana Cruz. Contact  writethingsph@gmail.com. 0945.2273216

Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

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