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The Philippines Might Not be Around a Hundred Years from Now (Part Two)

We had hoped to publish this second installment two weeks ago however a couple of events intervened—Gloria Arroyo's visit to the White House, and the untimely death of former president Corazon Aquino. Thus it is only now that we are publishing part two (Click here for part one).

e concluded the first part stating that unless fundamental changes were made, there seemed little chance the Philippines can reverse its downward spiral. Below are three of those changes that we believe must be made.

1. Stringent population controls must be set in place. A plan similar to China's 'One child policy' must be instituted throughout the entire country. The government is already straining under the weight of its current population and with 1.7 million babies born every year—or three babies every minute—the country will soon reach a point where the government will be incapable of correcting the problem without resorting to extreme or drastic measures.

This is not a religious issue, this is a moral and ethical one since we and the preceding generations of Filipinos who created the problem may no longer be around when things finally spiral out of control. We will thus be relegating to our innocent children and grandchildren a life so much harsher than what we have today. They are the ones who will ultimately have to pay for our excesses as well as our inaction while we lay peacefully horizontal, pushing up daisies.

2. The Philippine education system must be completely revamped. The education system in the country which unfortunately has withstood the test of time was set up by Spanish colonizers over four hundred years ago. It is an education system that was designed to keep the Filipinos divided, timid, and incapable of properly asserting themselves. It is an education/indoctrination system specifically designed to allow a small group of poorly-equipped Spaniards the ability to lord over the multitudes throughout the archipelago with relative ease.

During the Martial Law years, Ferdinand Marcos and his propaganda team coined the phrase 'sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan' (for the country to prosper, discipline is necessary). While one can say that would be true for almost any society, Marcos and his spinmeisters didn't get it quite right, because much more than discipline, what the Filipinos lack is respect—respect for one another as well as self-respect. Philippine schools need to inculcate that along with other positive traits in each and every student from kindergarten on up.

3. Having household help must be made illegal except for medical reasons. This deeply ingrained institution as it exists in the Philippines today must be brought to an end. A Filipina yaya with the family's pet poodle on a harness takes it for a stroll on a resort north of ManilaThe large numbers of maids, yayas (nannies), and houseboys are one reason why the country's productivity is nowhere near that of it's neighbors. The government must not allow the poor to be relegated to a life of servitude and in effect 'waste-away' as a marginally productive member of society. If the Philippine economy is ever to become a viable player in the region, it needs to be 'firing on all cylinders' as the saying goes. And that won't happen if a large subset of Filipinos and Filipinas are relegated to sweeping floors and cleaning toilets so that their masters can waste their time at the beauty parlor or playing mahjong.

The insidiousness of this institution is that it destroys both the servants as well as those they serve. The servants are relegated to a marginalized existence for life, while those they work for begin to see themselves as privileged and superior. And, children who grow up with servants in the household understand very early on that there are people who are beneath them and who are there solely to serve them and do their bidding. In many cases these children grow up to become arrogant and intolerant adults who look down on many of their fellow countrymen and women.

In closing, while our three suggestions barely scratch the surface of what needs to be done, they are part of the fundamental changes that must happen. Without them, our collective dream of a happy and prosperous Philippines will never come to pass.

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