by Teodorico T. Haresco, Jr.
William Blake’s poem, “The Tyger,” describes the fierce creature of “fearful symmetry” and purposeful energy. It is the ideal symbol of the entrepreneur, territorial, protective, and relentless in its passion to survive; sharp contrast to the roaring, opportunistic Lion, the mythical Dragon, or the lofty Eagle.
In our May 19 article, this author already exposed the “wicked” principle of Globalization – that solutions spawn problems. Especially true of non-barriers to financial flows, as illustrated by the US Financial Meltdown: the problems it has spawned are being felt globally. Unified solutions are required: like an unprecedented, globally coordinated rate cutting, to maintain equilibrium in capital movement.
It’s a jungle out there. But our core competencies: BPOs, Mining,Tourism, and TESDA-trained OFWs (let’s use PGMA’s dignifying term, expat), make us burn bright; an Asian Tiger Cub in the offing; Galoc oil fields; JPEPA.
But we first have to think like one.
Asian Tigers are capitalizing on the effects of the US subprime crisis and her pending economic collapse – substituting East-West trading with South-to-South and East-to-East, much like pouncing on Africa decades ago.
John McCain pinned the crisis on Wall Street’s “reckless…corruption and unbridled greed;” and U.S. regulatory officials’ blind eye. They forgot that all investment – despite credit ratings and audit from the world’s best agencies money could buy, P-E ratios, and financial behemoths’ insurance – is gambling. AIG’s Credit Default Swaps were but an illusory shell game, ignoring things like Buffets’ intrinsic value formula, derived from Graham’s margin of safety concept. Let us beware of occidental carpetbaggers, who will, as Capital flows from west to east, inevitably export Wall Street’s shell game.
We’re better off. Renowned architect and friend Max Chan indicated 61 tower cranes constructing buildings in Metro Manila, compared to 18 during President Ramos’ peak – proof of a positive business environment, resulting from our President’s wisdom of frugal, financial engineering and difficult, unpopular decisions – like EVAT – since 2001. We complain about 12%. Comparatively, Peru, Latin America’s 2nd most successful economy after Chile, charges 19% EVAT. Its Foreign currency reserves: US$33.3B; her population, 29.2M. Peru subsists on much cheaper potato bread. A Filipino entrepreneur could lead the shift to cheaper kamote bread, abundant, tasty and nutritious, to feed our schoolchildren. Why do we insist on Pan de Americano?
We could all adopt the Cebuano or Kampampangan entrepreneurial mindset, which converts bits of stone, coral, or wood into money. Applying this entrepreneurial attitude throughout our country would create self-sufficient, enclaves of prosperity.
Prosperity does not discriminate. It’s about the right thinking and hard work. Only attitude differentiates us and the peoples of developed countries.
Learn from other Tigers.
Know how the wealthy think. The Chinese Tiger, under Deng Xiao Ping’s, began by developing coastal cities – Jiangsu, Guangdong, Shandong, and Fuijan – and wealth spread inland. India’s US$12.3B (1999 prices) 6,500km highway (the Golden Quadrilateral), linked her and sent her economy into overdrive. Our islands should likewise be united, with new RoRo ports along nautical highways, linking the remotest places.
Korean, Singaporean, and Indian Tigerhood came by prioritizing exports the world demands. In the 1950s Taiwan focused on only five agribusiness export crops – asparagus, pineapple, rice, shrimps, and sugarcane. Today we should focus on US$4.8B in Tourism, US$18.3B in expat labor; and US$11B in BPOs.
Know and hone our competencies. As Tiger Cub economies made elementary and highschool education compulsory; tertiary education and skills training programs from CHED and TESDA, based on POEA business intelligence, in the medium term, could forward-market its curriculum matched to acute overseas labor demand of advanced economies (like what US Lehigh University does with Ford). Our graduates, tooled properly, and matched to job vacancies abroad, would swell expat ranks and remittances.
There is a growing shortage of skilled “blue-collar” US technicians, and 250,000 unfilled trucker jobs. Let’s capture this opportunity, before East Germans or Mexicans do. China’s shortage of women is “a disaster of epic proportions.” There will be demand for adequately-trained Filipina welders and accountants.
Hunt long, Hunt hard
Becoming number one starts from the lowest level going to the next, accomplishing little things first, with excellence. Like clean airport toilets, shorter immigration lines, and zero visible trash. Only then can we progress to greater things.
Work hard. Sacrifice. Mean business; something this Administration is doing. Large currency reserves and spending less than we earn sends signals of responsibility, attracting investments: despite a stormy world economy, FDIs increased 11.7% to US$20.0B (Q1, 2008) from US$17.9B (Q1, 2007).
Determine what we want and set objectives. Business efforts must bring significant job and wealth creation; something Sari-sari stores and competing with China garments, can’t do.
Entrepreneurs could, with a Figaro, develop 10 Hectares (HA) of barako coffee lands. Call it “Star Baracks” as the world imbibes Obamagic Presidency. In just 6 years, money will literally fall from the trees. My relatives are developing 50HA for intensive Golden tilapia aquaculture. After filleting, bones are ground into pellets for pigs. To power agri-business, this Administration has allocated, P26.5B, largely composed of the Land Bank of the Philippines’ Php20B and the DBP’s P1.2B.
There is Blake’s mighty Tyger, and my daughter Sofia’s favorite, Tigger, Winnie-the-Pooh’s companion. We could be both happy and relentless.