POSTSCRIPT / December 31 2013 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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No choice for Filipinos but optimism for 2014

THROW THE TRASH: Before a new year slips in at midnight, we still have time to dispose of last year’s garbage, especially the psychological trash weighing down heavily on our minds.

Sorting out personal problems, you will discover that except for physical difficulties and survival issues, many of our worries are only in the mind. Many times we fret and lose sleep over what people might think or say, or what someone dear to us might do.

These relationship and social complications are not a matter of life and death. As they fester mostly in the mind, they are usually solved by just making adjustments — or by ignoring them.

Imagined problems are our own creation. We think they are a problem and they become so. By the same process, we should be able to banish them from our mind, and our lives, at will.

So, will it! Right now! Gather and throw out the garbage of your mind, thereby making room for the joy and hope of a New Year!

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ETERNAL OPTIMIST: The latest survey says that 94 percent of Filipinos, despite having been battered by human and natural calamities, still look forward to 2014 with hope rather than trepidation.

Siempre, what else will the fatalistic Filipino think or do? He did not die, right? So, bahala na, makaaahon din siya sa awa ng Dios. (He will survive, with God’s help.)

Having sunk that low in his economic situation, the Filipino cannot go anywhere but up. Or so he thinks — actually without empirical basis but by the sheer bounce of optimism.

Those who have much more in life and those who hold us by the neck humor Filipinos by telling them that they are resilient. Desperate as we are, we eternal optimists swallow the line.

And when the survey interviewers fielded by friends of the Palace come around to ask, we tell them back the same optimistic resilience line.

The administration kids us, and we kid it back — even if the bad joke hits us in the gut where it hurts.

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UNREPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE: We assume in this discussion that the survey report quoted in the news is reliable and not one of those commissioned table surveys where the pollster tailors the results to what the client or patron wants.

Many people wonder if these surveys are reliable. It is said that there are two reports in a survey – just as the corner hardware store has two books, one for City Hall and the Bureau of Internal Revenue and another for the owner to have the correct business picture.

It is hard to understand why a tiny sample of 1,200 respondents can be used as the representative of a universe of a heterogeneous national population of more than 95 million scattered over 1,700 or so islands.

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DEMOGRAPHICS: There were 1,490 towns and 144 cities in our 81 provinces as of the last gerrymandering. Polling 1,200 respondents means there are some towns and cities without even one adult who was interviewed face to face.

Complicating the demographic picture is the fact that the population is stratified and subdivided horizontally and vertically into various sets of economic, educational, ethnic and other groups.

Still, even without a survey I can believe that the Filipino, his precious cellphone in hand, is liable to exude unbridled optimism despite being hounded by natural disasters and the man-made calamities of unemployment, poverty, hunger and lack of security.

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FOREIGN INVESTMENTS: Who would not force himself to be optimistic in the face of overwhelming yearend statistics being showered on the masses by the Aquino administration?

Somebody who looked like Press Secretary Sonny Coloma said over the weekend that President Noynoy Aquino has lured foreign investors into plunking in fresh capital of P334 billion in response to his sales pitch during trips and meetings in 26 countries since 2010.

Where are all those billions in terms of visible direct investments in factories and such businesses churning out products or providing services and contributing to the gross national product?

Counting the chicks even before they are hatched, Coloma said more than P611 billion in fresh investments have also been promised to the Philippines by China, Japan, the United States and Great Britain. This is expected to generate some 100,000 more jobs, he added.

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PREVENTIVE STEPS: We are again going through the bloody business of counting the people killed or maimed by firecrackers and other devices being exploded in a wild sendoff for the outgoing year and the joyous welcome for a new, hopefully better, year.

We even have a running score of the fatalities and those injured, comparing the numbers with those of the previous year.

Has anybody in government thought that prevention would be cheaper and less maddening? It is lot easier to assign policemen and inspectors to check daily all fireworks factories and thus prevent the manufacture – and sale — of outsized bombs and murderous explosives.

At the same time, Customs and the police must keep a tight watch on the smuggling of prohibited firecrackers and pyrotechnics products. This is cheaper and saner preemptive action than saving or treating victims of runway New Year revelry.

The Philippine National Police do not have to go through the ridiculous rites of taping the barrel of service firearms to prevent, kuno, their unauthorized firing.

We think that the better thing to do is to issue a stern order for policemen and agents not to fire their guns. Has discipline so deteriorated in the PNP that a mere order is not enough?

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 31, 2013)

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