Today, the 30th of December, is José Rizal Day.
Let’s remember what it was that the great man was truly fighting for. Was it an external enemy?
No. José Rizal, in his masterpiece Noli Me Tangere (Latin for “Touch Me Not”) actually repeatedly talked about the REAL ENEMY that keeps the Philippines down: The Bad Habits of Filipinos and the unwillingness of most of us to want to improve the status quo.
Rizal’s rants were scattered everywhere in his novels – particularly in the introductory descriptions and asides, and the most explicit rants against the “internal enemy” (our unwillingness to make things better) were to be found in Chapter XIV: Tasio – the Lunatic or Philosopher?
Fast forward to 2012, the same problems still exist. In fact, they’ve gotten worse. Read Chapter XIV of Noli Me Tangere and see how Rizal speaks through the character Filósofo Tasio and explicitly expressed all his frustrations about what’s wrong not with the colonial administrators of the Philippines during the time the novel was written, but what’s wrong with his compatriots and their happy-go-lucky attitudes.
The chapter starts off with Rizal – speaking through “Tasio” – wishing for Thunderstorm, and hoping – somehow – that someone gets hit by lightning to serve as a lesson to everyone. He was repeatedly complaining about how the ordinary townsfolk were all so afraid of thunderstorms but despite his (Tasio’s) strong suggestion to invest in setting up lightning rods, the townsfolk used up the money that should have been set aside for the lightning rods to party and feast and enjoy themselves. He complained that it seemed like the people had to wait for some tragedy to occur before deciding to make the necessary changes/improvements instead of pre-empting it proactively.
We can easily see how this attitude is still very much alive in the Philippines today.
The Philippines currently lags behind the rest of the region as far as job creation and true economic development are concerned. Everyone else in the region has adopted the best practices that other successful countries have tried – in particular – opening up their economies and allowing more FDI to enter. The Philippines, however, has continued to stick with its status quo of keeping investors away thanks to Constitutional Restrictions that prevent foreign investors from owning more than 40% of any locally-registered company.
As a result of the dearth of investments, jobs have continued to be scarce amidst a rapidly increasing population. More and more Filipinos enter working-age but can’t find jobs.
The solution? They look for jobs abroad.
And the Philippine Government (and even one idiotic Bishop named Gilbert Garcera) thinks it’s good that Filipinos go abroad as migrant workers sending remittances home.
Yeah right. As if all those host countries will forever continue to be open to migrant labor… Saudi Arabia has slowly been implementing a Saudization policy of lessening their intake of foreign migrant workers (many of whom are Filipinos), while Singapore – another favorite destination – is also clamping down on accepting foreign workers.
What happens when the more than 10 million Filipinos working abroad as Overseas Workers are forced to return home to a Philippines where jobs are scarce?
Why can’t the Philippine President Noynoy Aquino see that it is imperative that he get his Mother’s 1987 Constitution REFORMED in order to allow foreign investors in so that they can come in and create jobs for Filipinos IN THE PHILIPPINES and thus make it unnecessary for more and more Filipinos to have to go abroad in search of jobs? And he’s not the only one. There are many other Filipinos who can’t see this!
Just like Rizal, my fellow CoRRECTors and I are frustrated at the inability of many Filipinos to see the need to make these reforms NOW rather than later.
Are Filipinos (and the President) all waiting for all these host countries to send all the OFW’s home and create a major economic crisis as the unemployment rate explodes?
Truth be told, what separates successful countries from the failures is that the successful ones often proactively take preventive measures long before major disasters occur, while the failures just allow things to slide and in the end, failure falls upon them.
By not allowing the necessary improvements to occur – by not CoRRECTing the obviously defective Constitution – the Philippines will continue to be dependent on migrant workers’ remittances, and the Philippine Economy will continue to be one that is marked by consumption as opposed to investment and wealth-creation.
Learn the real lessons that Rizal was trying to impart, Filipinos. It wasn’t an external “enemy” that Rizal was fighting against. Rizal was fighting against the enemy within us! Rizal was campaigning that we Filipinos CoRRECT™ ourselves.
CoRRECT™ the Constitution!