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Voting Wisely Is So Important for the Philippines

With elections a little over a week away, Filipinos need to take a long and hard look at who they are choosing to lead them for the next three to six years—Scenes from elections past. Ballot boxes piled high curbsidefor the Philippines is a country sorely lacking in leadership. For decades we have been electing celebrities, entertainers, and relatives of past and present politicians who are totally unfit for public service. They have neither the training, the experience, nor the intellect needed to properly do the job voters elected them to do.

If anyone doubts this to be the case, they only need look at how far down the Philippines has fallen since it gained independence from the United States in 1946. Back then the country was a serious player in all of Asia. Philippine business was world-class; most multinational corporations had their regional offices in the greater Manila area. Philippine schools were top-notch, and graduated scores of Filipinos who could make it to the top rungs of Fortune 500 companies. Wages during the Fifties and Sixties were higher than most other Southeast Asian countries, so much so that a few roads and bridges built then used less expensive foreign labor. Manila was on the cutting edge of everything, from modern business practices, to fashion trends, to art and architecture.

All that was then; the golden decades of the Fifties and Sixties are now but a fading memory to those old enough and lucky enough to still remember. The Philippines today is without doubt a third-world country. Manila is now a dirty and polluted back-water city, and young Filipinos migrate to far-flung destinations settling for low-paying jobs eschewed by local residents of their host country. Philippine colleges and universities no longer rate globally the way they used to; even the Philippine stock exchange rarely merits the occasional mention from financial news broadcasters like Bloomberg and CNBC.

Filipino optimists point to Fitch and now Standard and Poor’s upgrading of the Philippines to “investment grade” as a sure-fire sign that the country is on its way to first-world status. But back in the sixties, we were told that too. And back then, we were way ahead of most of our Asian neighbors. But something has gone terribly wrong because the Philippines has stagnated while the rest of Southeast Asia sped forward.

What happened? We’ve had bad leaders! Even today most are unqualified; more than a few are outright thieves. For decades, the Philippines has been run by incompetent grandstanding amateurs while neighboring countries chose their best and brightest to lead them. Take a look at the candidates running today. Most are traditional politicians with no new ideas to promote and a lot of bad habits to perpetuate. And as long as the electorate continues to see nothing wrong with electing them into office, the Philippines will continue to be mired in mediocrity. The sick man of Asia, despite its present jolt of adrenaline will remain an “also ran” who will never quite make it to the top. Unless Filipinos start to send a clear message via the ballot box and prevent unqualified candidates from ever holding public office. Published 5/3/2013


RECENT EDITORIALS

President Aquino Should Fly to Saudi Arabia and Pay His Last Respects to King Abdullah

Presidents and prime ministers, kings and queens; from Prince Charles and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, President Francois Hollande of France, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and many other heads of state from all corners of the globe have gone or are headed to Riyadh to pay their respects to the late King Abdullah. Even U.S. President Barack Obama cut short his state visit to India to fly to Saudi Arabia. Published 1/27/2015


After the Pope's Visit: What We Filipinos Now Must Do

We put on a good show for Pope Francis. He loved it; we loved it; the world loved it. Now the long and painful task of bringing about the changes the pope asked for begins. Start with the Philippine Catholic Church. It should refocus its efforts towards the poor. As we wrote in previous editorials, many priests and bishops see themselves as members of the rich and privileged class. They feel more at home in country clubs and dining in expensive restaurants, than they do helping the poor who live in the squatter communities that dot most cities in the Philippines. Published 1/22/2015
Pope Francis Admonishes Pinoys to End Scandalous Inequalities

We had a feeling this was coming. In his first major speech in the Philippines, Pope Francis called for an end to 'scandalous inequalities' in the country. And what better example of a scandalous inequality is there than that a preposterously ridiculous wedding of Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera which was officiated by 8 bishops and 7 priests. In addition, this crass wedding featured a 12-foot high wedding cake, a 2-million-peso wedding gown with an exaggeratedly long train that seemed to go on forever...you get the picture. Published 1/16/2015
An Open Letter to Pope Francis; Please Read It Before Coming to the Philippines

Dear Pope Francis, your much anticipated visit to the Philippines is just a few days away. We expect that you will have been adequately briefed about the Philippines by the time you arrive. However, there might be a few things your Vatican handlers might have missed—or intentionally "forgot" to mention to you so we hope this letter reaches you in time for your historic visit. Before anything else, welcome! Published 1/9/2015
A Dingdong Fancy Wedding for a Third World Country

What is it with us Filipinos? We are a country of "all flash and no substance." Case in point: This ridiculously lavish wedding between two so-so movie stars that sought to outdo even the most "royal" of royal weddings. What was the whole point of this crassly extravagant display? Lest anyone forget, the Philippines is still a Third World country. And many, many squatter's homes (if you can call them "homes") do not have running water or even a toilet! Published 1/4/2015
Vice President Jejomar Binay’s Aguinaldo

Money received from benefactors during Christmas in the Philippines is called “aguinaldo”, a term and practice imported from Mexico during the Spanish colonial period where it now refers to the annual Christmas bonus given to employees. In the Philippines, it is now generally used to describe monetary gifts given by all benefactors, including godparents and employers. Published 12/25/2014
Do Filipinos Want America on Their Side or Not?

Given the Filipino penchant for "dramatics," not to mention the circus atmosphere that inevitably encompasses any event of even minor significance, one can hardly blame American government officials for refusing to hand over US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton over to Philippine authorities. The intriguing question in all this however is why some Filipinos are so insistent on having custody over the accused. Published 12/19/2014

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