So we finally kicked the American Imperialists out of our land. We�re pretty pleased with ourselves now that we have the playground all to ourselves and lots of toys to play with! Fifty years after the Fourth of July, 1946 (let�s not kid ourselves � our real Independence Day), our economy is still so dependent on what the Americans built for us. Manila�s South Harbour, one of the last remaining finger pier wharfs in the world still used for commercial shipping still handles the bulk of the country�s export and import throughput. Baguio City is still the Summer Capital of the Philippines and the original American-built Kennon Road is still the route of choice for most motorists. And after almost a decade, policymakers are still scratching their heads as to how best to optimally exploit the infrastructural wonders of Subic Bay and Clark Field. In the meantime, for lack of any foresight or imagination, we are slowly turning these into playgrounds of the rich and famous again with water-guzzling golf courses and casinos sprouting up.

The beauty and utility of these facilities attest to the early 20th Century engineering expertise of America, their fundamental structures having withstood the mismanagement and thievery of the Philippine authorities that inherited them.

So what do we have to show for the last fifty years after they�ve left us? In contrast, Hong Kong had embraced the principles of Rule of Law from the British and is now a regional economic power. Singapore built the world�s most efficient shipping port in the world. Malaysia spread cargo throughput all over its coastline and is frantically building up its digital infrastructure. All this while Philippine Airlines� �Beauty of the Philippines Shining Through� tourism pitch wears thin as we complete the final stages of the destruction of the natural beauty of our land. Tragic, considering that we have very few man-made tourist attractions to speak of.

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The Decline of Subic Freeport Manila Bulletin columnist Willie Ng writes about the current sorry state of "the miracle of Central Luzon"


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