Why Western standards of national success elude us

12 June 2003

So we want to be a prosperous nation, do we?

If we were to summarise in four principles what defines the Western standards of national success that we choose to measure ourselves by, these would be it:

Goals-oriented. Successful societies set clear goals for themselves and measure the value of discrete pieces of work by how much each contributes to achieving said goal. There is no "hope for the best" (bahala na). Hope must be substantiated by well-thought-of approaches to acquiring what is hoped for.

What are Filipinos doing differently this time to substantiate any hope for a bright future for our nation?

Quality-oriented. Successful societies are continuously honing their act. They rigorously study their errors and develop strategies to mitigate the possibility of their recurrence. People in successful societies trust one another to do their job properly so that they can depend on one another instead of wasting precious resources on redundancy measures and rework.

When was the last time you counted on a Filipino-run utility to deliver its services reliably?

Results-oriented. Successful societies continuously evaluate the outcome of their actions. Accountability is King which means heads roll when setbacks are encountered. Furthermore, members of these societies expect every approach and belief to be challenged by both experts and ordinary citizens alike. And somebody is always found to address these challenges.

Who do we Filipinos blame for the failure of our nation?

Value-oriented. Successful societies know the true essence and ultimate source of value. The largest proportion of the value of a truly valuable product or service lies where it cannot be seen - in the brilliant R&D that went into a product's or service's design, the precise processes that went to a product's manufacture, the engineering under a product's understated skin, the facilities that grease the delivery of a service, and the clockwork behind-the-scenes coordination that backs up the smile of a customer server.

Can we cite any Filipino products or services that compete on value instead of price?

To illustrate how far we fall short of making the grade that will enable us to join the ranks of our former peers, the following are examples of the Pinoy way from the perspective of these principles:

Pinoy version PRINCIPLE Western version
"Bahala na"
GOALS "Zero mortality"
"Pwede na"
QUALITY "Zero defects"
"Basta makalusot"
RESULTS "Social justice"
VALUE "Function"

Rough translations:

Bahala na: "Let's just hope for the best" (most often used with various forms of the word "God").

Pwede na: "That'll do".

Basta makalusot: "As long as we can get away with it".

Porma: "Form and showbiz appeal".

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