The Philippine Economic Miracle Part 3 of 4 by Willy E. Arcilla

[I'm republishing the articles written by my friend Willy Arcilla, the marketing genius behind the success of C2 in the Philippines and Vietnam, on his 2020 vision for the Philippines. I share this vision that soon all of us will say, "I Live an Awesome Life in the Philippines." – Anton, Founder/ Editor of  Our Awesome Planet ]


What happened to the Philippines, or IN the Philippines over
the past 12 years?  

Based on research and interviews with government officials
and church leaders, management and labor in the private sector, ordinary
citizens and experts from the academe, the country started to turn a new leaf
in early 2008 when it was faced with the threat of the fragile economic
recovery stalling again after posting a 17-year high growth rate of 7% in 2007.  Buffeted by extraneous challenges such
as the US recession and ensuing global credit squeeze; depressed by worsening
poverty and destitution; anxious over a widening rich-poor gap causing social
unrest; frustrated by incurable graft and corruption; weary from incessant destabilization
plots and military discontent; incensed at a morally bankrupt government; distracted
by overzealous presidential aspirants for the 2010 elections; and bedeviled by
a runaway peso that has crippled exports, rendered BPOs and local tourism
uncompetitive, and most of all, caused “self-strangulation” for 10 million OFWs
and emigrants supporting 40 million dependents who were propping up the country’s
consumption-driven economy, the Philippines was faced with an imminent implosion
that could have led to a major social upheaval. But the worst was averted.

For some unexplained reason, Filipinos of noble intentions
from all sectors of society, who have been patiently undertaking their own
respective advocacies and work of redemption amidst all the turbulence, started
to connect and coalesce,
drawing inspiration and strength from one another, and
radiating the positive energy across their own circles, which in turn started
to create positive multiplier effects throughout the entire country.  Importantly, they did not preach a
violent uprising, but on the contrary, a love for God and country by engaging all
Filipinos here and abroad with inspiring acts of heroism.

 

Gawad Kalinga, an holistic approach to poverty alleviation
that provides land for the landless and homes for the homeless, livelihood and
health services, education and values formation, which had at that time already
built 1,500 villages benefiting 500,000 families, reached its tipping point in
2008
and opened the floodgates for mega-partnerships from private corporations,
landowners, schools, national and local government units, NGOs and Filams
wishing to reinvest in the motherland. 
They were moved by the epic tale of patriotism of a young Englishman,
once ranked the 9
th richest Briton, who used to live a lavish
lifestyle before encountering GK. 
He sold off his luxury cars and donated millions of British pounds to
build villages throughout the Philippines. 
An alien with no cultural affinity or an ounce of
consanguinity with Filipinos fell in love with the country, fell in love with
the people and fell in love with the daughter of GK’s champion.  Together with his wife and 2 daughters,
he launched a Caravan of Hope across a Highway of Peace stretching 22,000 km and
covering 65 US cities over 4 months to help unify Filams in the war against poverty.  People were awestruck by the
contributions of a successful 2nd generation Filam technopreneur who
single-handedly pledged 100 villages to Gawad Kalinga valued at P300
million. 
The famous paintings
“Hapag ng Pag-Asa” and “Hapag ng Pag-ibig” have risen to national and global
acclaim for bringing society’s attention to the deplorable plight of poor streetchildren,
eliciting affirmative action and donations of scores of GK villages for thousands
who benefited from the outpouring of generosity. 

 

Filipinos were inspired to surmount their own personal
challenges and “mountains” by the  incredible
accomplishment of the Philippine-Mt. Everest expedition team who proved that a
people from a tropical country with no alpine environment can scale — even
traverse — the world’s highest peak if they worked as a team, showing “Kaya ng
Pinoy”. 
National pride continued to
build with global recognition of the Filipino talent in music and the
performing arts in overseas competitions, and in sports like boxing, billiards
and even golf where the teamwork of 2 female golfers won for the country its
first prestigious World Cup of Golf. 
Ordinary Filipinos from all social classes and age groups followed the simple
“12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do For His Country” written by an
enlightened young lawyer, and reading “Good News Pilipinas” on the web, were
moved to connect with OFWs and Filams of kindred spirit living overseas as
patriots-in-exile. 
The youth were
drawn to the idealism of the Galing Pilipino Movement that honored the goodness
in Filipinos, instead of sensationalizing the bad, as they were inspired by dramatic
stories of transformation in the former backwater of Marikina due to a
husband-and-wife tandem, impoverished Bicol spearheaded by the selfless Mayor
of Naga, and the dynamism of a progressive Governor of Camarines Sur.  All were touched by the story of a priest-turned
governor in Pampanga who was elected by his constituencies despite overwhelming
odds; as they were awestruck at the miraculous gift of healing of a simple and humble
Canada-based  priest to alleviate
the suffering of the sick and infirm. 

 

Filipinos were shaken from their stupor created by a misguided
sense of poverty after listening to a popular lay missionary exhort everyone “to
get rich for the poor”
because God wants us to maximize our talents and take
dominion over the earth, captured in  “8 Secrets of the Truly Rich” and “Simplify and Create
Abundance”;
reading two eye-opening books, “Think Rich Pinoy” and “Grow Rich
Pinoy”; following and listening to an enlightened businessman who preaches
“Business Matters Beyond the Bottom Line”.  Plain employees
and OFWs who have coalesced as a potent
force of 10 million under the Global Filipino Nation were inspired to set up
their own businesses by a Go NeGOsyo movement
espousing entrepreneurship and the
book “Be Your Own Boss” by a nationalistic entre-pinoy from Batangas who
started selling at the age of 10
and advises; “it’s not the money you earn, but
what you save and invest that will make you rich.”

 

Then something truly awe-inspiring transpired.  The country’s 40 richest men, with a
combined net worth of US$17 billion dropped a bombshell when they collectively
announced they will give back 50% of their fortunes to various foundations and
charitable institutions to help uplift the poorest of the poor
— as if to
compensate for the failure of a young and rich man seeking heaven to respond to
Jesus’ appeal to, “Go and sell all your possessions, give the proceeds to the
poor, and come follow Me”.  The 40
honorable men must have realized the wisdom in not leaving excessive inheritances
for descendants who may be tempted to lose their drive, and fail to appreciate
the value of hard work when born with a giant silver spoon; and that inherited
wealth may spoil their descendants to live a life of undeserved leisure,
perhaps even lead to moral decadence that can make them even culpable of their
descendants’ loss of heavenly rewards. 

 

Bankers too, started to reduce usurious lending rates and
spreads, channeling more lending towards MSMEs and agriculture and fisheries
sectors
as they realized their long-term neglect of these sectors has caused
their contraction and an over-reliance on big borrowers, leading to the country’s
protracted loss of self-sufficiency in food production and higher cost-of-living
that made Philippine industry uncompetitive.  It seems even the small businessmen stopped their
unscrupulous and unfair trade practices like selling substandard products and
services, overpricing and profiteering, delaying payments to suppliers, running
sweatshops and paying employees wages below subsistence, thus enabling
employees to finally save more in banks which were reinvested at lower interest
rates for business expansion and working capital requirements.  Many adopted the principle of
profit-sharing and distribution of shares of stock to employees.  Floundering businesses revived once
owners undertook a conversion, practicing good management practices and corporate
social responsibility, thus “doing well by doing good”.  There was an outpouring of good karma following
the law of attraction, as people started to live the universal golden rule:
“Don’t do unto others what you don’t want done unto you.”

 

Afterwards, the country’s business associations started to
form coalitions among themselves, forging partnerships with the national and
local governments, exhorting their own members to reshape their business models
to help uplift the marginalized in both urban areas and the countryside.  Experts say that many businessmen were also
inspired by one corporate giant that undertook a landmark heroic decision not
only to return 144 hectares of disputed farmlands in Sumilao, Bukidon to its
original landowners, but to work together with the beneficiaries to raise
productivity and rural incomes in the area. NGOs which used to pursue their advocacies
separately – in education and environment, health and nutrition, entrepreneurship
and livelihood — began to synergize their efforts to share best practices,
optimize and allocate scarce resources and collaborate for an holistic solution.  The Catholic Church urged the faithful to
turn their faith into action,  thus
activating Catholics who have been long criticized for practicing a nominal
Christianity.  

 

Then something totally unprecedented, unthinkable and
unimaginable happened.  The political
figures from the Marcos dictatorship up to the incumbent did what everyone had thought
impossible.  One by one, the past
leaders, their relatives and cronies voluntarily returned their ill-gotten
wealth
– not part or some, but all. 
Billions of pesos stashed away in secret overseas bank accounts or kept
locally under false names resurfaced and were returned to government coffers in
public acts of restitution.  Other
government employees followed the lead of the biblical “Zaccheus”, the tax
collector who gave half of his wealth to the poor, and paid everyone he may
have stolen money from “three times” the amount he took, prompting Jesus to
proclaim, “Salvation has come to this home”.  The nation’s villains have turned into heroes.  Importantly, the corrupt politicians did
not change because they were denounced by church leaders and NGOs; shamed in media
exposes or sued by PCGG prosecutors. 
They changed because they realized they had to.

 

It seems the beloved relatives – grandchildren and children,
spouses and parents, and true friends of all the corrupt politicians — prevailed
upon them to return what they have stolen or taken “by mistake”.  The very beneficiaries of their graft and
corruption refused to be accessories to their criminal offenses, out of love
and compassion for their fathers or spouses, invoking the Gospel passage when
Jesus Christ said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but
suffer the loss of his soul?”  One precocious
5-year old granddaughter was reported to have innocently asked her famous
political grandfather, “Grandpa, what good is it if we have all this money if
we are all going to hell for it?”  Consumed
by remorse, the former top leader returned billions to the government.  Good governance ceased to be a dream,
and turned into a reality; the norm not the exception.
From a paradigm that preferred
a “nation run like hell by Filipinos”, politicians realized that they can, and
in fact they ought to lead a “nation run like heaven by Filipinos”.  


[The author is a business graduate from the UP and an industrial economist from the UA&P-CRC.  He has a 25-year career in various roles in Corporate Planning, Marketing, Sales, and General Management across Asia-Pacific, and is a recipient of the Agora Award for Marketing Excellence.  He is now President of Business Mentors, Inc., a newly-formed management consultancy firm and Regional Director of ZMG Ward Howell, Inc.]