Philippines in the next five years

ROSES & THORNS - Pia Roces Morato - The Freeman

The world is watching Asia and, in my opinion, we Filipinos seem to be paying a little more interest in how developments around the globe will affect us – at the very least, in the next five years. While there is awareness, proper understanding still remains to be gained, especially among those who have not been fully informed about their own country’s security.

At a forum held at Romulo Cafe Makati last March 13, 2023, a select group of people watched the live broadcast of the new China Premier Li Qiang, who discussed China’s development goals in the near future. With this we can start to understand how we are doing and what we need in order to achieve the objectives of our country in a positive manner, as the Philippines stands to benefit more from working with China and the US in various fields such as education, human development and technology.

Amid external and geopolitical challenges, the new Premier is set to bring China to a more stable trajectory and, as the director of IDSI George Sy says, opportunities are coming multi directionally where Filipinos ought to be practical in replicating what the United States and China have achieved and, it goes without saying, that it doesn’t matter what country is leading the markets, it is still up to us to do our own homework in order to learn from everybody.

As explained by George, for one, the Chinese educational system is different from the American system. The latter, in terms of individual training and innovation, is excellent, making people from around the world study there. However, there are two different technologies involved in the said countries and China has focused more on improving the quality of its education to train the majority of its people to contribute to national development, focusing more on STEM than politics or law, especially during the developmental stages of the nation.

If one were to delve deeper into a few other details, some of the benefits gained from China that have somehow been downplayed are the roads that have made the country’s logistics viable once again as well as the arms given by China during the ISIS rebellion that prevented us from engaging in a war that could have lasted for years.

Former senator Kit Tatad explained, as a guest speaker in this forum, how he never liked the idea of choosing one side over another and that the best position (if one may call it that) should be in the middle where everyone pulls the forces together to advance peace.

Back to education, Senator Kit recalled how, in the time of Mao Zedong, there were no Chinese people who studied in the likes of Oxford (for example) and that it was a conscious decision of the Chinese leadership to send scholars to the West to learn everything from them. Geopolitical analyst Sass Rogando Sasot, on the other hand, expressed in the same forum the ambiguity and lack of clarity on what is happening in our region and that critical security issues are not thoroughly discussed by mainstream media, including (my personal favorite) history where China too has been colonized and occupied by foreign powers.

On this day we witnessed China’s newest Premier Li Qiang, a former party head of Shanghai who has been credited with bringing in Tesla’s biggest factory outside of the US. Hence, if we were to take a few lessons from China in the first quarter of 2023, perhaps it would be the stabilizing growth it has achieved in terms of their economy and, if we would look into the level of goals in terms of food security, I would pay attention to the way they boost the areas of culture, ecology and economy to promote rural revitalization.

So therefore, where does the Philippines stand? Where do we see ourselves in the next five years? Focusing on education alone, the Philippines seems to still largely lag behind in reading, math and science, considering we’re one of the smartest people in the world. Friend to all enemy to none – a foreign policy that, to me, certainly equips our education system better as development focuses on advancement and peace rather than politics.

The Philippines, as the rest of the world knows, is indeed the pearl of the orient – what are we Filipinos ready to do then to preserve and advance as a nation, as a people with so much potential yet still much to learn? I suppose the key word is “learn” and we must be ready to do so by developing the areas we can firmly capitalize on.

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