Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hope springs eternal

“Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all they have.” — Anonymous

Seven out of 10 Filipinos still believe there’s hope in the Philippines ; they should. Our hope lives on while there are still outstanding leaders who keep setting the example of sacrifice and determination to liberate this country from poverty, mental stupor and national mendicancy. Gen. Danilo Lim, Sen. Trillanes, the Bagong Katipuneros and President Joseph E. Estrada—with his slogan, “Walang tutulong sa Pilipino kundi kapwa Pilipino”—are all such leaders who lead us toward national emancipation.

In historical terms, our struggle is still shot compared to the awakened giant of Asia, China , which decayed and languished for 500 years before revolutionary, anti-colonial, and nationalist leadership emerged 59 years ago. If measured from the year of the Malolos Republic of 1899 when the Philippine struggle set up its sovereign government, it will only be 100 years next year.

We thus have no reason to believe that this historical event may finally be completed soon. But with the right leadership to galvanize this nation’s energy, we can achieve a turnaround in 10 years of what China has achieved for itself in 60. By then, we would have returned to our pre-eminent stature in the Asean community—something that we took for granted in the 50’s. But these positive aspirations should be first stoked in all Filipinos’ hearts that they may be fired up to achieve the socio-political and economic changes we so direly need. For where there is no hope, there can be no progress.

It is therefore heartening news that hope still springs from the Filipino soul as the recent Pulse Asia survey found. Yet, there is another factor that increases the likelihood of our much-needed changes: The return of thousands of OFWs who are now jobless.

All the decades since the 70’s, the only pressure relief valve for scores of unemployed but able-bodied and talented Filipinos was the OFW deployment. Millions had left the country to earn a living, including many leaders from the activist movement and the intelligentsia. But now that these foreign jobs are disappearing, OFWs still with boundless energies will be forced to return home with little prospect of employment.

Where are they going to work here? Where are the kinds of factories they’re used to when they were in Taiwan , for example? What about construction workers from the Middle East who are coming home to a construction slump? Workers in the electronics sector, meanwhile, will come home to the news that Texas Instruments had just laid off 400 workers in its Baguio plant. Then, as Filipino white collar OFWs from the US also come home, to what office will they be recruited when retrenchments here have already begun?

Radically changing the present paradigm is thus the only way to solve this impending unemployment tsunami: By reorienting the country’s economy toward import substitution to produce what we import today such as milk, diapers, rice, meat, etc.

Buttressing this is the latest PhilExport News sent via e-mail: “Exporters increase sales to domestic market… A manufacturer and exporter of handcrafted Christmas and other holiday décors…said since sales abroad went down because of stiff competition from China and other Asian countries three years ago, exporters have been participating more in domestic trade fairs. She bared that the local market now comprises around 20 percent of their total sales, while that of a furniture company is much higher at 40 percent… So over the years, we have found out what the Filipinos are looking for. We already produce for the domestic market…and it is enough to take care of our overhead cost.”

For sure, increased earnings will take care of more than just the overhead if there is a full blown government-led policy to cultivate the domestic market henceforth. However, it’s more than just furniture and Christmas décor we should make for the domestic market. We need agricultural implements, organized organic fertilizer production, production of skim milk from coconuts to replace almost all milk imports, and more high tech people to put up big and micro-geothermal power plants all over the country. You see, it just takes some little imaginative twists to shift our orientation from export-dependence to import-substitution.

Then again, there are macro-economic issues to take care of too, like reviewing our debt amortizations to shift resources to domestic pump-priming, as well as, cutting down power and water costs, which, despite declining oil and exchange rates, are still going through the roof with petitions from Meralco, the NPC, and the new Maynilad owners, to increase charges yet again.

These are the things that all Filipinos should be focused on while struggling to remove the one big obstacle to all these remedies—Gloria Arroyo, together with the foreign and local oligarchs propping her up. All the other carping from diverse anti-Gloria groups are only secondary to this. The debate on the CARP law, for instance, is moot and academic, as any land reform program won’t work while the landlord class still controls Malacañang and Congress. Moreover, all investigations of corruption will come to naught while Gloria Arroyo is in power for she serves to cover all their asses.

All forces for positive change against Gloria’s tyranny must therefore come together and concentrate on the removal of Gloria and the establishment of a genuine leadership dedicated to the welfare of this nation and its shift to an independent and progressive economy.

Thankfully, the nation is coming close to a final turnover of power to a new leadership that can and will change this country. The previous Friday, all soldiers were confined to barracks with a headcount conducted to ensure that no one was out to join any unauthorized movements, an intel major confirmed. The Gloria Arroyo regime is suffering from violent nervous convulsions because it knows that there are unceasing efforts to break open the floodgates of change. Their diversionary bombings won’t help them anymore. The odds are all against Gloria and her corrupt henchmen as she and her FG’s billions will be inutile when the social volcano erupts.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.; Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Destiny Cable, Channel 3, Tuesday, 8:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., featuring Mrs. Aloy and Ms. Aika Lim, wife and daughter of Gen. Danilo Lim; also visit http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)