The July 26 issue of Newsweek cites the World’s Best Countries and as expected, the Philippines is nowhere near the list. The awards go to: the United States (Best Country to be Rich), China (Best Country to be a Technocrat), Germany (Best Country to be An Artist), Turkey (Best Country to be Young), the Netherlands (Best Country to be an Idealist) Canada (a haven for writers) etc.etc.
It would have been okay except that one other Southeast Asian country made it to the list and that’s Vietnam.The country was cited for being “one of the best places to be an economic reformer,” attributing this to a new generation of communist leaders who are “steadily injecting free-market principles into the economy.”
I couldn’t help but be insecure, or maybe am just having a bad case of deja vu. We’ve always heard the story that back in the ’60s, the Philippines was ahead of the Asian “tigers” like Korea and Singapore. Now look where we are.When I went to Thailand in ’97, the peso was head-to-head with the baht against the dollar but now our peso is down in the dumps.Will an economist please explain this to me? I always tell my friends that I would immigrate already if Vietnam goes past the Philippines in terms of growth and progress. That would be The Day.
Don’t get me wrong. I am after all one of a few Filipinos who would like to stay in my native land.This takes on greater significance because I have lived in Europe and have seen the United States. I prefer our breezy summers over the unforgiving European/American winters. The wife of the American ambassador once told me “God must have been smiling when He made the Philippines.” I agree. There are lots of beautiful spots in this sunny archipelago which we haven’t discovered because we’re too engrossed with boarding the next flight to the US and Canada.
What do I love about the Philippines? It’s our pace of life and the fact that our people, no matter how poor, can still manage to grin and bear it. There are bad eggs all right but majority of Filipinos have retained their friendly, hospitable nature.
Our strong sense of family will ensure that we pool our efforts to rebuild this country or sink in the same ship together.
Choosing to stay in the Philippines may connote a total lack of ambition and I couldn’t explain it.My heart is here and my roots are here. There is no compelling reason at the moment to make me want to move to another place and so be it.