The Philippine Economic Miracle Part 2 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 ]

But perhaps nothing beats visiting the archipelago of 7,107
islands as to see is to believe. 
One can now fly on an Airbus A380 and land in the modern Philippine
International Airport (formerly DMIA and Clark)
in Pampanga that now rivals
Singapore’s Chang-I, take a high-speed train for 15 minutes over 80 km of
well-manicured ricefields
along the route, then get off at a spanking NAIA
international terminal (formerly NAIA 3)
now akin to Kuala Lumpur.  One is greeted at the airport by young
and courteous immigration officials and even “bellhops” to lend luggage assistance
for free.  Philippine-brand
taxicabs are brand new and clean,
metered with official receipts, and driven by
honest and polite drivers who speak English and some colloquial Spanish and
Russian, Mandarin and Cantonese, Korean and Japanese, Malay and Arabic, enough
to take first-time tourists to their destination.  One’s  cellphone
beeps with a welcome message and language options appear with a tourist
helpline for emergencies manned 24/7 by courteous multilingual staff.
  Scores of tourist information centers
dot the cityscape.

The major thoroughfares are wide and long, impeccably
smooth, lined by colorful flowering plants, with clear directional signs and
brightly illuminated at night throughout their entire stretch.  A new patriotism is palpable as the
bold colors of the national flag flutter proudly
against an azure sky on the major
streets and in front of all buildings, with not a few in front of houses or flying
on vehicles.  Roads are named after
national heroes
such as Rizal, Bonifacio, del Pilar, Gomburza, Silang,
Lapu-Lapu, Malvar, Aquino, Diokno, Manglapus, Roces, Tanada, Salonga, Cardinal
Sin, and even foreigners who have helped the country, like Gen. Douglas
McArthur, Fr. James Reuters and monuments preserve their memory.  New urban centers are named after
historic places of bravery and heroism like Pugad Lawin and Tirad Pass, Bataan
and Corregidor.  The business
districts have been redeveloped to provide more breathing space, or “green
lungs” for the nation’s workforce.
Pockets of parks and gardens dot the entire metropolis akin to Saigon’s
French-inspired parks for smaller neighborhoods and communities.  Even the old cities and districts of Pasay,
Quiapo and Rizal Avenue in Manila, Cubao in Quezon City, long suffering from
urban decay, have undergone a massive renewal program tapping foreign funds that
have restored them to their former glory and splendor similar to London’s
Canary Wharf and Shanghai’s Bund.  Megamalls
have given way to MEGAPARKS where families are free to stroll, run, play, and picnic
amidst the lush greenery of trees,
grassy knolls and flowering plants, without
having to spend unlike in shopping malls.  The public has access to cultural performances, museums and
libraries with free wifi.


The clutter of billboard advertising has been replaced by elegant
neo-Filipino architecture
that witnessed a renaissance from both Filipino and
foreign architects.  Billboard advertisers
realized their overspending on mass media produced boomerang effects as
consumers consumed themselves to poverty. 
To make up for decades of brainwashing to buy and spend;
shop-till-you-drop, companies started urging folks to save and invest.

There is no graffiti or litter anywhere on the streets and incessant
flooding due to rains has ceased. 
and single detached units are now more affordable to a rising middle class with
an average of 2 children, and private exclusive subdivisions are giving way to
more inclusive communities that no longer distinguish between the rich and the
poor.  One will notice the
disappearance of shanties in squatter colonies, now replaced by
brightly-colored, neatly-organized communities with signs “Welcome to GK” where
neighbors live in harmony with one another.
 Violent demolitions have ceased as residents of squatter
colonies voluntarily dismantled their shanties and relocated to the countryside
where they grew their own food – staple crops, vegetables and fruits, livestock
and poultry – and sold their surplus for an incremental source of livelihood.  The Church hierarchy played a pivotal
role when it made a categorical statement condemning overpopulation by the poor
arising from the irresponsible use of the gift of procreation, thus ending up
with too many offspring poor parents cannot afford to feed.  Without the need for birth control and
artificial contraception, people practiced responsible parenthood – delaying
marriage, abstaining or natural family planning.


The newfound patriotism is also finding expression in local fashion
exemplified by modernized versions of the “baro-at-saya”,
popularized by patriotic
celebrities and young airline stewardesses of the national flag carrier that
has all but replaced the skimpy wear that exploited women’s virtues.  The 21st century Maria Clara
and barong tagalog have become the standard wear in formal events. 
 Philippine architecture entered a golden era as increasingly
more developers and homeowners designing buildings and establishments preferred
a Filipino theme, used indigenous materials, and named them in honor of
Filipino heroes.  A famous city landmark
called the “Twin Horns” skyscrapers in a central business district, shaped like
the horns of the lowly carabao,
the beast of burden symbolic of the Filipinos’
resilience and silent hard work, is connected by a Filipino-themed 7-star hotel
plus a shopping complex featuring world-class Filipino products. 


A system of modern, clean, and efficient mass rapid
transport trains now run quietly on 2 levels,
providing commuters with
air-conditioned escalator ramps going up-and-down, while studies are underway deliberating
between the first Metro subway ala Singapore and Hong Kong or a 3rd
elevated railway by 2025.  These
have successfully decongested the roads of public utility and private vehicles,
most of which are now running on locally-made biofuel or electricity.  Even the wailing sirens of police
escorts and bodyguards for politicians have fallen silent.  Most impressive is the noticeable
improvement in road courtesy and motorist discipline, and pedestrians using
zebra crossings or crossbridges, thus resulting in smoother traffic flow and
higher productivity.
  The country’s
erstwhile dependence on foreign oil has been replaced with alternative forms of
renewable energy.


The stench in Manila Bay has disappeared while marine life
has reappeared. 
Even the Pasig
River is unrecognizable because the color has turned from a stagnant, slimy black
to flowing brown waters. 
Modern, bright-colored
and environmentally-friendly ferries now transport students and housewives,
workers and traders up and down the stretch of the Pasig from its mouth in
Manila Bay and upriver.  There is a
special tourist run leading all the way to Laguna de Bay,
which itself has undergone
a transformation from once being the world’s largest septic tank to the world’s
largest fish farm and aquarium.


Gone are street urchins and beggars, as all are now at
school or at home, at work or at play. 
Students at all levels read assiduously, write proficiently and speak
fluently in English with a neutral accent, while respecting Tagalog as a national
language.  Performance scores in
English, Mathematics, Science and Engineering, have soared to rival the best in
Asia — the Koreans, Chinese and Indians, even surpassing their American
counterparts.  A third language is
commonly taught in all schools – Mandarin or Korean, Spanish or  Russian.  To supplement the efforts of the educational sector, mass
media undertook part of the responsibility for values formation.  TV programs and magazines were revamped
voluntarily by broadcast networks and publishers to promote human virtues,

while suppressing the countervalues such as sex and violence, gossip and foul
language.  Even the drive to
restore English proficiency received a booster shot when the KBP decided to
reair Sesame Street and promote English usage in daily soap operas.


On visiting the countryside, one can take a 10-lane
expressway from Aparri down to Jolo,
crossing islands via safe and efficient
Roll-on, Roll-off (RORO) ferries, and one notices that all of the land has been
put to productive use – either as farms or communities with well-manicured
gardens.  The expressway and major
thoroughfares are lined with beautiful greenery consisting of the leafy acacia,
narra and kamagong, coconut and mango, with the multi-colored bougainvillea
creeping up concrete posts of flyovers. Rows of informal settlers along the
national roads have been replaced with guardrails and ornamental plants as
rural GK townships and villages have embraced all former squatters.  Trains traverse Luzon from north to
south, and criss-cross the island of Mindanao
, making travel overland efficient
and affordable, safe and reliable for ordinary Filipinos.


Practically all of the country’s major tourist attractions
have been developed with modern infrastructure network consisting of roads and
bridges, hotels and clean restrooms
– from Aparri to Jolo and the islands of
Batanes to Basilan – making local tourism accessible and affordable for local
and foreign visitors.  This has
also decongested the world-famous Boracay island, which was crumbling under the
weight of overconstruction, thus spreading the benefits of local tourism
development across the archipelago – Pagudpud and La Union, Alaminos and Subic
in the north, Batangas and the Bicol region in the south, Palawan, Mindoro and
Masbate islands, Samar and Leyte in eastern Visayas, Camiguin and Siargao in
Northern Mindanao, Davao and the Sulu islands in the south.


Filipino countervalues of “bahala na” and “pwede na yan”,
“ningas cogon” and “bukas na lang”, “baka makaisa” and “baka makalusot”,
“unahan” and “get rich quick mentality”,   “chismis and intriga”, “pro-foreigner colonial
mentality and anti-Filipino crab mentality” have started to give way to a new
work ethic and morality driven by love for God and country.  Enlightened leadership replaced the
status quo characterized by privilege and patronage.  “Sipag at tiyaga” and  a “country above self” ethos replaced mediocrity and
“kanya-kanya”.  A culture of blame
and judging has changed to one of accountability, inspired by the admonitions of
Jesus Chris
t when He warned his disciples “not to judge so you may not be
judged yourself”; and “why do you notice the splinter in a neighbor’s eye, but
not the plank in your own”. 
Indeed, the face of Christ started to shine in a people who once adjudged
each other godless – as everyone sought to fulfill the 2 greatest commandments
which are to “love God above all, and love one’s neighbor as oneself”.  Man’s greatest temptations of pride and
power, fame and fortune, are now resisted by a genuine display of humility and
honor, heroism and holiness. 
Hurting became helping.


As a visitor picks up a copy of the day’s paper, he glances
at the front page.  Puzzled, he quickly
leafs through the rest of the newspaper, as if he picked up the wrong paper or
he is in another country.  Then he heaves
a sigh of relief and a smile crosses his face as he realizes that all the negative
reporting and pessimistic editorials, self-flagellation and finger-pointing,
scams and scandals, conflicts and controversies of media sensationalism are now
distant memory, replaced by genuine good news about the Philippine economic miracle
that Filipinos continue to create and build, while inspiring the rest of the world. 

Indeed, the Filipino miracle seems, to borrow a popular line
of balikbayans, “for good”.

[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.]