Towards a Tiger society

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    IN the early 1990s then President Fidel V. Ramos launched a campaign to convert the Philippines into a “Tiger economy,” hoping to follow in the footsteps of Singapore, Korea, and Taiwan.

    This was part of Ramos’ “Philippines 2000” campaign which sought to build on the political gains of the Cory Administration with economic gains. There was a serious push to market the Philippines as an investment haven with Subic Bay as one example; we hosted the APEC meeting of heads of state (including Bill Clinton) in the old US Naval base; and Ramos became one of the most traveled presidents in history.

    FVR even had “Tiger Bobby,” Roberto de Ocampo, as finance minister; for his work boosting the numbers of the Philippine economy De Ocampo was named one of the best finance ministers a number of years by international organizations.

    But the Philippines didn’t really become a Tiger economy. All the efforts amounted to nothing after the financial crisis of 1997 set everything back.

    Two decades later I remain of the opinion that Ramos was moving in the right direction.

    This time though it may be necessary to redefine what it means when we say we wish to make the Philippines not just a Tiger economy but in fact a Tiger society.

    Maybe we can best do that by giving meaning to each letter of the word Tiger?

    The Tiger society I imagine the Philippines to be will be roughly anchored on the following:
    First, there is technology-led transformation in the way we live our lives. The pandemic has made us brutally aware of the value of technology at a time when human endeavor is limited by the real threat of a virus. From tracing apps to online meeting apps to cashless tollways. The Philippines needs to keep in step with these developments the world over and not be left in the dark.

    Tied to this is the area of information and innovation. Information is the key element here, living as we do in what the late futurist Alvin Toffler calls the “Third Wave,” a label he coined 40 years ago. How well or badly information flows (hello, telcos!) can make or break us; but what we do with information is just as important a matter to pay attention to.

    Environment and ecology need to be front and center if we are not to damage our Mother earth beyond repair, climate change deniers notwithstanding. How man relates to his environs is something we can no longer ignore – but technology and information and innovation are here to help us address climate change issues adequately and timely.

    There too are Rights we should be conscious of and Responsibilities we should meet. Too often people are too focused on the former and forget the latter, happy to enjoy (if not demand) the benefits that society can offer, without doing their share to give back what they can. Civic consciousness has become a one-way street.

    And, of course, as an end result, there’s Good Governance which is why we organize ourselves as citizens in a society in the first place. Good Governance ensures that there is fairness and justice in the way the issues of the various sectors of society are addressed, their interests acknowledged and their needs met.

    Jumble the first letters of “Technology-led Transformation,” “Information and Innovation,” “Good Governance,” “Environment and Ecology,” and “Rights and Responsibilities” and what have you?

    A platform for a Tiger society.

    Now to find the leaders who can make things happen!