Achieving the Filipino dream

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    ‘At this time when the pandemic continues to plague the world maybe I should have an even more basic Filipino dream – to be inoculated as a defense against the virus using a vaccine with the proper clearances from our health authorities.’

    AMERICA is no longer the dumbest country in the world, writes economist Umair Haque; Britain is. It is a country, he says, that has decided to impose sanctions on itself by exiting a union ten times bigger than itself, with a people who now wonder why ordering stuff from Europe is no longer as quick and easy as pushing a button. These are the very people who chose to believe their “adorable but dangerously misinformed” old conservative politicians even after economists warned that the UK cannot exit the European Union without expecting serious consequences.

    Worse, Haque adds, the UK is a country that sought to ignore the coronavirus only to develop a more infectious strain from within, and then the government decides to delay the delivery of the second dose of vaccines for its people from the required three weeks to three months. The UK’s vaccine program, Haque opines, is bound to fail and fail miserably.

    Of course, if Haque is correct, then it’s the people that will suffer. But it’s always the people who suffer from bad government anyway. Which, in some respects, is only fair because it is the people that put bad government there in the first place!

    I was drawn to the piece of Haque only because I like the way he characterized both the US and the UK as the top two dumbest countries in the world. Naughtily, I said to myself that for sure some Filipinos will not like the idea that we are not in contention; but to them I also say fret not too much because we may not be that far behind. And you can use the coronavirus experience also as a gauge. A year after we registered our first case, where are we now?

    Well, we have an official tally of half a million cases, with ten thousand officially dead from the virus or its effects, and six or so officially named czars in charge of our official programs to officially combat the virus. Plus billions in official debt to pay for our official anti-virus programs. In the meantime, Myanmar and Bangladesh have started vaccinating their people.

    We shouldn’t be too far behind the UK and the US, methinks.

    Yesterday, I met up with a few crazy friends to discuss some crazy ideas for these crazy times. As part of our freewheeling discussion over brunch we touched on what the “Filipino dream” was (or is). And I opined that it should simply be this: as every generation passes, from my grandfather to my father to me, it should always be getting easier for an ordinary Filipino to study diligently, work his butt off and, as a result, achieve his dreams.

    This is how you help those in the lower percentile of our socio-economic ladder to rise, so that a father ends up with a life better than that of the grandfather, and the son with a life better than that of the father.

    But is this reality for the ordinary Juan? Or is it the reality only for succeeding generations of the political and socio-economic elite?

    At this time when the pandemic continues to plague the world maybe I should have an even more basic Filipino dream – to be inoculated as a defense against the virus using a vaccine with the proper clearances from our health authorities. Let’s trust our health authorities to properly review the results of the various tests the vaccine has been put through, and let’s make sure we ain’t dumb enough to allow anyone to inject into our bodies – into our arms or even our buttocks – anything that has yet to receive regulatory approval.

    And so, for our short term purposes, can the Filipino Dream then be to “learn from Bangladesh and Myanmar?”

    Can our czars make this short term dream come true?

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