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Love our country

June 6, 2024

MANILA – This is a plea, especially to our nation’s leaders, especially the politicians who wield power in both the political and economic realms. I know I’m far from being the only one who believes that if only most of you loved our country enough to put it ahead of furthering and perpetuating your personal power and wealth, our country and the bulk of our fellow Filipinos would be much better off today.

You would well know how the Philippines had progressively slid from the top to bottom position among its regional peers since the 1960s. We were the most dynamic economy in Southeast Asia and second richest in East Asia (next to Japan) in the 1960s but now rank the worst in most social and economic indicators that matter. A Korean friend once told me how on his first visit to Manila in the 1960s, he was awestruck with envy at our infrastructure and level of development that was well ahead of his own country then.

Neighbors from whom we now import rice and other farm products once sent their students to learn agricultural sciences in our country in my hometown of Los Baños, once the region’s knowledge center on the field. South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, and India sent people to train at the Agricultural Credit and Cooperatives Institute in Los Baños, and have since demonstrated the power of farm cooperatives in uplifting their farms and farmers. Yet our own farm coops more often than not fail and collapse, leading many to believe that cooperativism simply will not work in the Philippines. We may have lost our cherished tradition of “bayanihan,” and have become too individualistic or “kanya-kanya” for sustained collective endeavors to prosper. Our concern for the common good now seems a casualty in the