IF you’re old enough to remember what TV show (it was cartoons, my generation’s “anime”) and which character spouted this comment every time a crisis was afoot, then you must be at least in your mid-40s, or older.
The character was Glum, and the show was “Gulliver’s Travels.” Glum was always the negative one, the one who could see the black clouds hovering over the silver lining, the character who preferred to be negative so that if he is right he can say “I told you so” and if he is wrong then he would be happy to be wrong, yes?
I can imagine that the Durerte administration sees the character of Glum in many of us, just as the PNoy administration did, and the GMA administration before that. Of course, many of the Glums of any administration didn’t vote for them in the first place. But there could also be a supporter here or there who has turned sour or has turned cautious given things that are happening locally or even around the world.
My Glum moments have nothing to do with the current administration but have lots to do with what’s happening abroad. Like the slowing down of the economy of the so-called “engine of Europe,” Germany. The economic difficulties being faced by Argentina and Venezuela and Iceland. The trade war between South Korea and Japan, and the United States and China. Singapore growth slowing down to half of a percent. The messy British exit from the EU. The issue of Kashmir. The tension in the Middle East that recently saw half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production brought to a standstill and local pump prices shoot up by 5% in a single day. I see all these and I worry – is the world heading towards another economic crunch, with governments resorting to nationalist moves in order to shore up domestic support? And will reactions of individual states only lead to a worsening of the situation?
I do not believe that the world will once again plunge into a World War, but I fear that local issues in various regions will escalate, fuelling conflict, albeit localized.
In the face of all of these, our economic managers see even higher growth for the Philippines next year. A range of 7-8%, they say, compared to the mid to low 6s this year.
And this is where I feel like Glum. Hoping to be proven wrong that we will never make it, and wondering whether we have Plan B and Plan C if indeed a downturn happens.
All around us wherever we go – Metro Manila or Iloilo or Davao; tourist spots like Palawan or Aklan; even in more remote corners of our country – you see activity. Construction activity mainly – buildings and roads signifying a considerable boom. And traffic on the roads! Currently all building up to a crescendo of complaints that people spend most of their lives commuting, which is still a good thing because times are good. But will it last past the Christmas season? Or past the next summer? If, for example, the Chinese economy continues on its slowdown, how will this affect the flood of Chinese money into our economy that is the source of activity in many places these days?
The times are still good; don’t get me wrong. But there are storm clouds in many parts of the world and it would be wise for us to party-party while keeping one eye on the TV monitor. Because one madman of a leader here or one suicidal maniac there can change things in a flash.
“We’ll never make it” might be too extreme – but it’s always best to be prepared.