Must we forever remain a 3rd world country?

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Freeman

Tokyo, Japan — While we were still in Japan, we never got any international news simply because even in the plush hotels of Tokyo, they rarely have international news like CNN or BBC. Everything is Japanese! Of course we were also busy going around in Tokyo visiting interesting places. So,  the only news I can get from back home is when I open the Philippine Star website.

But last Wednesday night when I opened my Facebook page, I learned that my good friend, lawyer Democrito “Kito” Mendoza, the founding father of the modern labor movement in the Philippines, the Associated Labor Union (ALU) and a World War II veteran, passed away last Tuesday. He was also a longtime commissioner of the Social Security System. He was a labor leader par excellence and I’m sure no one can fill up his shoes. May we request our pious readers to please pray for the repose of his soul.

It’s only the second week of January 2016 and Cebu has lost two of its great sons. Aside from the passing of Atty. Kito Mendoza, I also learned that another dear friend of ours, Mr. Napoleon “Nap” Rama, also passed away. Nap was publisher of the Manila Bulletin from 1978 to 2007 and was a cellmate of my mentor Max Soliven with the late senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. He is the uncle of suspended Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.

Very few Cebuano journalists could ever hope to reach the pinnacle of their journalistic careers in Manila. As a columnist, he used the might of the printed word to fight for Press Freedom, which earned him a jail term under the Marcos dictatorship. He was the son of Don Vicente Rama and a constitutionalist. He will be sadly missed especially in the media circles of Cebu, where he has become a giant in his own right. May we request our pious readers to please pray for the repose of his soul.

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By this time, we would have concluded our weeklong trip to Japan to attend the 15th wedding anniversary of Mr. Yuki & Adela Kono and have a short pilgrimage to Akita to see the wooden statue of Our Lady of Akita that shed tears and blood in the 1970’s in one of the Blessed Lady’s famous apparitions of the 21st century. That we were given an hour with the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was something remarkable. Incidentally, the Japanese who carved that statue has since turned Catholic.

As always, whenever we get to visit a first world country like Japan, whose main cities were devastated during World War II, we can only be awed at the way Japan was able to go on full reconstruction in just 70 years after the war ended. Please don’t get me wrong; I never entertained any ideas that the Philippines could ever catch up with Japan even if their econo-my has stagnated. While the Philippine economy improves, frankly speaking we shall never achieve what the Japanese people achieved for their own country.

It is easy enough for the Philippines to copy the best that Japan has to offer unfortunately, Filipinos are stuck and still in awe with our kind of politics even if the majority of our politicians should never even be called “Honorable.” Perhaps we ought to have a law that only allows politicians to be called honorable if and when they have a three-year track record.

Anyway what I’m trying to drive at is… it’s about time that we should change our system of governance and tune the bureaucracy to speed up their services to our people. We can change our government if we Filipinos change ourselves first. Right now we are a very tolerant people, even if our political leaders are stealing the nation’s coffers blind.

For instance, we are so tolerant with people working in the local government or the DPWH were a small crack on the pavement turns into a huge pothole where more often than not, motorists who pass the road with a pothole often memorize where it is located and try to avoid it. In Japan their bureaucrats work with a passion for excellence, which is why we never bumped into a pothole on this trip to Japan simply because potholes do not exist in their roads because before a small crack on the road is not allowed to turn into a huge pothole, the person in charge already fixed the road.

As I wrote earlier, because of the huge population in Tokyo, the city planners widened the pedestrian crosswalk in the places, which are very crowded. Here in Cebu City… our pedestrian lanes have never been widened, even if the population of the Philippines already reached 104 million people. This means, the increase in our population was never factored in by our city planners… this is why our roads are now experiencing bad traffic congestion in many major intersections.

I have made numerous suggestions on how we can fix ourselves. But then it falls on deaf ears. Hence, the first thing we ought to do is for all of us to stand in front of a mirror and ask ourselves… will we ever change our ways and be able to fix whatever is wrong with us or shall we forever be a 3rd world nation? I dare say we should change… Now Na!

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For email responses to this article, write to [email protected] or [email protected]. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.



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