March 11, 2015

Deuterium: The White Gold of the Philippines

When I was in highschool, Michael Petralba, an old neighborhood friend from Carmen Street but who is now residing in Los Angeles, once spoke to me in a very animated fashion how the Philippines could one day become the richest country in the world. As a prelude, Michael said to me that his father had some vital information why a number of foreigners were in the country for a very secret purpose. I wondered loudly to him how secret it was and asked him if he could actually let me know some of the “secret’. He then informed me without hesitation that the foreigners were here mainly to study and find out ways on how to extract deuterium from the Philippine seas. I asked how come his father knew about all those stuff and what “deuterium” was in the first place. With gasping breath, and with gleaming pride for that matter, Michael told me as a matter of fact that his father was a war veteran and because of this, he had American contacts in the CIA. The CIA thing sounded preposterous to me at that time but when I recently read some articles in the Internet about deuterium, I started to wonder if the CIA talk of Michael was plausible after all and that maybe the CIA was behind the sudden departure of Michael’s whole family to Los Angeles later that year, where in a year’s time he was already driving a very exotic looking red corvette (might be from second hand store) as evidenced by a picture that he had sent to the neighborhood kids through a very kind uncle. This story may start to sound like a brimming Tom Clancy thriller but before anything gets out of hand, that CIA talk of Michael is just that and nothing else to it I am pretty sure on that and their immigration to America was due mainly to his father being a USAFFE during World War II. But Michael’s rambling on deuterium was completely a different matter—-it sounded to me then so awfully good that I had wished it to be true already even though it wasn’t true at all at that time, and even now.

There is really something to this issue on deuterium that lingers long and never goes away completely. It had been virtually popping and bobbing up in the local media every now and then—-especially in the last couple of decades. The Cebu-based news outfit The Freeman published the most recent news article on deuterium. In that article, Freeman publicized a certain study on deuterium by a Filipino scientist working in a Canadian agency. Canada by the way is the world’s leading producer and consumer of deuterium as an energy source. There had been many rumors and hush-hush talks before about certain groups of foreigners, possibly American and sometimes German, that were in the country to initiate drilling projects that should siphon-off the coveted deuterium from the Philippine seas. All those talks just died down however and nobody really minded them, perhaps everyone just disregarded some weird-sounding element that is supposedly found in the Philippines in great volume. In fact, even as we speak now, I would not be surprised if Exxon or Shell has some of its people working night and day trying to unravel the key to gathering the millions of barrels of “white gold” underneath our seas.

It was reported several years ago that the United States Government, through the Department of Energy and General Motors had unveiled an $88 Million joint project in order to put a fleet of hydrogen-fuelled cars on the streets of Washington D.C., New York and Los Angeles within a year’s time. The fleet would consist merely of 40 of such cars but most of the money would be spent on putting up a number of hydrogen refueling stations all over the streets of those pilot cities since the main cause why consumers are not buying too many hydrogen-fuelled cars these days is basically due to the lack of gas stations peddling or selling hydrogen gas or liquid hydrogen. Come to think of it, even if any of us had all the money to buy this car stuff right now, like for example if some of us are sons and daughters of Taipans with money to burn, we wouldn’t be able to use them anyway, at least not for long, unless we all fly all the way to America to buy gallons and gallons of hydrogen fuel.

But again come to think about the possibilities. If only there were enough hydrogen-refueling stations all over our city streets, our days of being dependent on crude oil (freshly-drilled from the dusty sands of Sahara) would soon be over and our atmosphere would be a lot more livable since the only end product of hydrogen fuels is water. Water, instead of carbon dioxides that make our urban landscape looked orange or yellow at dusk.

I really hope that this project of GM and the United States Government would entirely succeed for reasons that we all should know by now.

And so this bit of news on hydrogen-fuelled cars reminded me of the high school talk I had with an old friend from the neighborhood concerning deuterium. What is deuterium and how does it become an energy source? Deuterium is the end product when a common tap water (H2O) is subjected to enormous pressurize of gigantic proportion that the oxygen element in the H2O compound is forced out of the combination, making the hydrogen element to purify and consolidated all the more. Since in deuterium, the hydrogen becomes so solid and unadulterated, hydrogen gas can be easily obtained from it since a natural electrolysis happens immediately the moment deuterium is exposed to room temperature. Meaning to say, when deuterium is used as a base in obtaining hydrogen gas, the generation process is much less expensive. Right now, hydrogen gas and liquid hydrogen that are often used to power jets and giant trucks, are sold at very steep prices (much more expensive than gasoline) because it is so costly to produce them, necessitating an energy-consuming and lengthy electrolysis process that are undertaken in order to separate the hydrogen compound from common water. When deuterium is used, the very expensive process of electrolysis would be bypassed and set aside in the production of hydrogen gas and therefore, obtaining hydrogen fuel becomes more efficient and less expensive by a mile.

The Philippines is identified to hold the greatest amount of deuterium deposit, somewhere in the area known as Mindanao Trench, the part of the Pacific Ocean just off the shores of Surigao. Deuterium is most prevalent in an area more widely known in the whole world as The Philipppine Deep. In the Freeman news article (dated August 2004), Dr. Anthony B. Halog, the Filipino scientist working at the Sustainable Technology Office of the Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology, and the National Research Council of Canada described the Philippine deuterium wealth in this manner:
“A big deposit of 868 miles long, 52 miles at widest point, and 3 miles at deepest point, replenished by nature 24 hours a day after deuterium travels more than 12,000 kilometers from Central America to the Philippines through the span of the Pacific Ocean when Planet Earth turns on its axis from West to East in unending perpetual motion.”

And it’s potential in this breathe:

 “At 12 million barrels per day capacity priced at US$7.00 per barrel, this is US$84 million per day or US$30.66 billion per year, enough to wipe out all existing foreign debts of the Government in one year, revenue-wise in foreign exchange.Public works, private construction, economic and financial booms are expected to happen in the Philippines in the same manner as those which happened in the Middle East and financial centers of the world from 1974 to 1984, with everybody earning their respective comfortable livelihood, while pricing basic prime necessities at reasonable and affordable levels.”

At present, deuterium seems to be produce exclusively through an expensive synthesizing process, by subjecting ordinary tap water to enormous pressure using some highly-advanced machinery or equipment and thus the price of hydrogen fuel remain relatively out of reach from the ordinary consumers of fuels. But if the deuterium deposit under the Philippine seas can be obtained, hydrogen gas prices could become far more reasonable and affordable. If natural deuterium is utilized as the base in the production of hydrogen fuel—-in both its most widely used form as hydrogen gas and liquid hydrogen—-the generation process would become more efficient and much cheaper. And mind you, deuterium as a source of energy is not only useful to power cars, trucks and planes. It is also being utilized to power factories and power plants in the same manner that nuclear power plants are operated. With deuterium as moderator, nuclear power plants could do away with enriched uranium as a main fuel source and this means, deuterium use could generate a whole new species of power plants that are a lot safer—-safer by a grand mile.

The problem faced by those who wants to extract natural deuterium from the Philippines seas is probably the enormous pressure that is existing in the very area where deuterium are supposed to be found. To reach the area of deuterium concentration, a drilling system should reach a level of at least 30,000 feet deep into the ocean, where the water pressure could reach as high as 10,000 psi, or the equivalent of 10,000 tons of load pressuring from all direction. Apparently, there is no material known today that could withstand such enormous amount of pressure. Maybe diamonds could be strong enough to endure the extraordinary pressure down there but imagine how much diamonds should be needed in order to manufacture a very long tube. That’ll be unimaginable in both cost and expanse. But scientists nowadays always finds a way and when the time comes that a kind of metal could actually be developed, one that could reach ten thousand meters underwater without breaking apart and efficiently drill out barrels and barrels of sea water that contains deuterium, then that’ll be the time the Philippines could become the main hawker of fuels for the world’s cars, airplanes, buses, factories, power plants and whatever that runs and hums not by its own accord.

So deuterium may be the gasoline of the future, the main energy source of the next millennium, and the Philippines is the only country that has them naturally tucked under its seabed in an amount and breathe that replenishes on its own every time the Earth rotates and the sea shifts from side to side.

(A post from 2008)

March 10, 2015

Reinvigoration of the Public Sector

I do not mean re-engineering or even re-structuring. Maybe all we need is merely to invigorate the government system in order for it to achieve the maximum efficiency that is expected of it.

We have tried such modes of re-invention as re-engineering and re-structuring, at great cost in time and money, and yet improvements have not been substantial or palpable. The public continues to languish in long queues every time a license or a passport is needed. Bribes are ever pernicious, and even more open today, like it is not anymore a secret that should be tucked inside the pocket or a key thrown into the deepest ocean.

Sadly today, the public continues to encounter lazy faces of public servants seemingly tired of their day job and daydreaming of life in beaches almost all day long. At the slightest error, the public who is merely seeking public service get squirmed at by those who are especially employed by the government in order to serve the public, and in order that the common person have the convenience that the government owes them.

What is the aim of the public sector now? This is one vital question that should be addressed before everything can be settled. Is the public servant merely holding position just in order to make a living? He or she should rather be selling vegetables or meat in the market, at least thereat, there would be wider potentiality for the improvement of wealth. Nobody could really get rich in the government service, even serving for a long time.

Is the public servant merely holding position for social status and pride? He or she would rather be joining pageants and spectacles on television, for he or she would be known better there.
The public office is a public trust. This dogma had even been institutionalized in our most fundamental set of laws – our Constitution – and this is most encompassing of all, where no one should be allowed to forget the essence of public service, which is in order to serve thepeople, and not merely for self aggrandizement.

In view of the foregoing issues, therefore it is but time to realigned our views about the public sector, starting from the people within it. That for every employee of the government, whether national or local, every time he or she sees an individual, riding a Mercedes Benz or wearing no shoes and in tattered clothes, it should not matter, because that person, whether rich or poor, famous or unknown, is the very public sector he or she is aimed to serve.

In this manner, improvement of government service and the government system could be initiated, entering its nascent stages.

Despite the improvements in work environment, like air-conditioned areas, new buildings, expensive vehicles and increase in pay and bonuses, government service remains the same old horse, who is lackluster in movement, lacks dynamism and most of all, deficient towards its main aim of serving the public dutifully and with vigor. The government remains a system that is prone to stagnation and inefficiency, misappropriation, abuse of authority and lack of direction.

We have tried re-engineering the government system in the past and yet even the best re-engineers couldn’t tame the wild river that is the Philippine government system. Maybe we need a rocket scientist for this. We have tried re-structuring but even if our re-structurers could build a pyramid or an Eiffel Tower out of a molehill, the government system remains an ancient nipa hut.

Maybe it’s time that we should try re-invigoration.

It’s not as complicated to do as re-structuring does or as expensive as a re-engineering would demand. It only takes will, political will and cooperation from the people in the system. There are a number of factors that would be put in focus in this aim of putting the government service in the right track, one is leadership, two is awareness, three is competition, four incentive, and five public choice.

In LEADERSHIP, I mean to say political leadership. When we all almost agree that politics and the bureaucracy could not really be separated and is intertwined almost all the time, leadership becomes a most important factor in putting vigor and integrity back into the government service. In choosing our political leaders, especially in the next election activities in the coming years, the people should now aim for leaders who have proven capacity to lead and carry an entire workforce towards the improvement of service. It starts with the people then. If the electorate fails in the first place to change our leadership from the highest level, towards the root level, then re-invigorization ofthe government system would remain an illusion.

AWARENESS is two-pronged, first there should be awareness or a high level of consciousness among our public servants that their holding of their respective positions is not meant for self-aggrandizement alone, as a form of livelihood above all, but in order to serve the public well, and this should become a passionate and patriotic mission in every individual that would be integrated into the government service. Secondly, there should be similar level of awareness as to the PUBLIC being the CLIENT that the government is aimed to served, (the private sector prefer to call them CUSTOMERS) and the government system is aimed at primarily serving the needs of the CLIENT, that when the client is dissatisfied, public service becomes irrelevant and inefficient in every sensible sense possible. The CLIENT becomes the reason for existence, without it, there is no public service in the first place. This way, every client that enters the halls of a government office should be served well, for the moment that no one would anymore enter the halls of government offices, is just about the time that public service should eradicated.

COMPETITION could be injected into the public sector so that improvement of service could pertain. If the public could be given a choice as to the locus of a better service that they are necessitating, then every public servant would aim to proffer the better form or kind of service. This would entail privatization or semi-privatization of some government agencies or giving the public more stake in the government system, where there is increased community involvement in public service. Competition would entail the heightened accountability and responsibility factor, where the government service would become directly accountable towards the community, that there is really not one that is indispensable, that the public would always have a better place to go when someone in the public sector doesn’t want to serve the people anymore, but only wants to receive salaries and bonuses. This is where PUBLIC CHOICE comes in. This element of re-invigorization is the most complicated of all, but it could be done through medium term action plan, like say five years in the process, incrementally achieved by phases. And of course, this would entail a more detailed document and methodology.

Competition also would bring forth to the adjustment of tenures in public service where at present, there is that seemingly extreme bias in favor of security of tenure, so extreme that even if a public servant would go to his or her work in drag and sleep all day, the government system could not take him or her away, resulting to mass demoralization and low-level performances. Public service should straightened out its merit system that only a good performance could lead to promotions and increase in compensation, that not one indispensable that for whenever a publicservant does not want to serve the public anymore, as expected of him or her, then other more competent or more able individuals from the workforce should be recruited in his or her stead.

INCENTIVES of course remains a very important element, just like in re-structuring or re-engineering, that for every PUBLIC CHOICE of a government service, the better service would gain performance incentives, such as quota bonuses for a certain level unit of work, like for example if this government cashier had served 100 clients in a day, then performance credits and bonuses would inure or if this inspector had visited more areas or locations in a month than all the rest, he or she receives a hefty amount. It could be done in a larger scale that for example if this government agency branch had performed well in a particular year, more than the others in the same field, the whole workforce of that branch would get bonuses and be lauded with publicacclaim. They do that in private sector, that’s why the private sectorhad been able to build the grand Makati skyline over the years, and is establishing another in Fort Bonifacio and in Ortigas, aside from the busting urban scene in Cebu and Davao, and they do not receive any subsidy from taxpayers, unlike the government service system.

The private sector had not been fraught with issues of grand corruption because employees in the private sector do not attain such level of indispensability like that in the public service, where those who performed well are credited well and remain in the service for long, while those who are lackluster and lack integrity in work is taken out of the system. And besides, if one reaches a managerial or administrative level in the private sector, one is assured of hefty compensation that is why, in recent years, managers and executives of private companies have been able to increased sales in dramatic proportions. There are a lot of things that the government service could learn from the private sector in terms of methodologies, form of work structure, incentive system, recruitment and promotion system, tenures of employees, work ethics and level of competency and most of all in their treatment of the CLIENT, which they often call as the CUSTOMER.

In public service, the CLIENT may not always be right, but for certain they are the reason for being. A population that is served better by thegovernment, in terms of public service—- like education, licenses, security of food, public order and safety, health and welfare, livelihood opportunities, housing, job placements, communication and technology, etc.—- is a population that can make a better government and thereon, a more vibrant State.

(from one of the paper I submitted for my MPA degree in 2011)

Jose Rizal : An Icon Management Test

More than a hundred years ago, in Bagumbayan, shots rang out in the western sky and a man fell down without being able to face his assassins. He stumbled to the ground without being able to turn a complete three hundred sixty twist that he had labored to create when the word “Fuego!!!” rattled and hummed into the wind. 

What courage does a man has to be able to muster enough resolve in order to face the unthinkable in the very instance of death. I have not known any man other than Jose Rizal, who could retain such composure, writing even what could be the greatest farewell ever written when he inscribed within the dim stonewalls put on him, a paean to this Motherland, a last goodbye. ….Adios patria adorada….Goodbye, my dear Motherland…. 

Jose Rizal is the man we see as an icon test, the standards we seek in order to size up our character. He has the courage that every Filipino needs in these times of the greatest trial to our nation’s character to rise above these seemingly unending bouts against poverty and corruption, that led the eventual fall of a once great and rich nation. We are still great now, but we have been much more in the past. 

In his words, “the youth is the nation’s tomorrow”, and no patriotic words could ever be truer than this. The young amongst us are the rising stars that shall take us surging again towards the sky like a phoenix from the flame. They will be our last great hope to bend this stranglehold of misfortune and desperation that holds us down down like a monkey wrench. We, the Filipino people seem to have the perchance of pulling each other down that for every one man that escapes these desperation, a hundred lies naked and homeless in the streets and our daughters become whores that cater to fat-bellied thieves in the government and our sons are pushed to take up the hands of mischief and become hardened in crime and violence. 

It is the moment for us to rebel and seek to put an end to this vicious cycle where generation after generation, we grow into a people lacking in extraordinary vigor and persistence. Our youth must survive this test and we must see our hero, the great Jose Rizal as a test of character for all of us, to emulate his discipline as a young shy creative student until the day he became the courageous young man that he had been, without thought to the benefit of the self but always to the benefit of the greater all, even in the very seconds that those murderous shots rang out in the wind-swept shores of Manila. 

Every day we are bombarded with false icons and false gods. Movie starlets abound that goes gyrating in half-naked garments and they only instill the more animal instincts of our youth. What becomes then of our young but sex-crazed individuals who only seek the pleasure for the material self and puts away the passion and patriotism to contribute to the greater well-being of our country. 

In politics, and in government service, we honor and put on a pedestal those that had fattened themselves with public money. They become our honorees with honoris causa here and honoris causa there. They become godfathers and godmothers to every betrothal there is in town and every loving child that are newly born. They become the toast of the town. The few ones that labor in honesty, like the man who rides a bicycle to congress, do not ever become a godfather to any weddings or a special guest in the openings of some fancy restaurants---at least not in the grandest scheme. We honor those that put us down. They are the cancers of our society. 

Rich men within us just go walking past the hungered in the streets. They have lost their hearts towards their downtrodden brothers and sisters. The Lord Jesus Christ had once said: “Whomsoever said he loves God then hates his brother is a liar for how could he love God whom he could not see and yet hates his brother whom he could see”. We see them parading their charities when disasters come. They become listed in some foundations as the donor of this and the donor of that. That makes us wish that every day there is a disaster for it seems that there has to be some news-rich disaster that they come out from their mansions and castles in order to be part of some much talked about disaster.

Everyday, there is a disaster my brothers and sisters. Everyday, we see men and women who sleep in the streets and carry their young in their hungry arms even when it rains outside. We see infant crying in the night for they seek the milk of their mothers that are not there when they need them. They have no roof, no food, no water and no medicines to cure them. Yet, we pass by them like we do not see a daily disaster. 

Everyday there is a disaster. Our laborers work for pittance and at times they earned lesser than that what is paid a mule. Yet, we do not see this as an everyday disaster. We see the earnings of these companies skyrocketing to the roof and yet the pay we earn moves like turtle. Net income increase for the year here, net income increase for the year there. Targets overlapped here, target overlapped there. 

Yet our icons becomes them, those who seek not the hands of their brothers and sisters but labor and strive only so that they could build another mansion when they already have two, and looks forward to buy another car when they have already seven in their garages. 

Our youth must see another form of icons. Of courage and discipline in order that we as a nation must rise from this quagmire of poverty and desecration of spirit. We must find new heroes to lead us forward, to move against the wind, to strive further even if the hill is so steep and the enemies are ever formidable. 

Our youth today must become brave and patient. They must be industrious and resilient. Serious in their studies, and they must stop at nothing to gain more and more knowledge. At times we stopped when we see the difficulties are tremendous. We do not stop until we can build airplanes that will fly into the air or even rockets that shall roam and orbit the spaces above us. 

We must promise not to recreate the mistakes of generations past. We must learn and rise from the ashes. Even when our young are just children now playing in the fields, we must invoke on them to please prepare themselves to become the people of the future, the builders of a rising nation, and then we shall rise up again like a phoenix from the flame.

And to start this uprising, we must all be prayerful to the Lord God for everything begins and ends from Him.

March 04, 2015


There were many talks about the middle class before---who are they and where are they found? In the Philippine settings, identifying this sector of our society is never an easy task for this idiom, which has found its root in western economic theories, does not easily apply to our own principalities.

Who are the members of our middle class? Where are they? How can we identify them?

Generally, the determining factor in ascertaining the middle level of our society is primarily the earning capacity of a certain group of people and secondarily their social mindset. In a society like us, where for many centuries we were in virtual serfdom, we are mainly a nation of the rich on one side and the rest of the poor in the other. There is nothing much in between. We had at many times in the past a classless society.

We must only remember that even as we speak and while we kept again and again to break away from this stranglehold of unfair distribution of wealth in our nation, we have not effectively evolved from the virtual serfdom society that we have inherited from our Spanish colonizers of many centuries ago and if there were changes, they came in stifling trickles. We tried our best to escape this ugly past by adopting two versions of comprehensive land reform programs, one during the Marcs years and one in the freedom government of President Corazon Aquino, yet we are still presently hounded by the sad state of gregarious amount of land in the hands of a meager few.

I remember too well the lasting images that I have seen in the not too distant movie “Far and Away” which featured Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as protagonists and chronicles in a fictitious manner the onset of emigrants in a time of the birth of a nation, the land of milk and honey, America. Irish settlers and some other nationalities, were lined up in a multitude by the authorities with their horses and cavalcades readying themselves in a mad rush towards a wide open plains to which each family unit was given a white flag to identify the territory they have gotten for themselves. As they rush along towards more favorable plains, the very site that they could plunge their flags to the soft ground would immediately be theirs and theirs alone for eternity as long as they hold on to it and nobody, not even the State could take it away from them. The actors who took part in the rushing multitude of men, women and children perhaps captured so well the elation and joy of many American settlers who became part of such exercise, when as each flag was trusted to the ground, tears would roll down from their eyes and relief was all too apparent on their faces. The movie made me appreciate all the more the power of land and its role as the sustainer of life. What I saw in the movie was perhaps the most singular reason to the astounding progress that America has attained even up to the present, especially in the 20th century.

The government in America of past centuries had made sure that each men and women of their society became able to produce by themselves and become contributors to their young nation’s productivity. In short, the ordinary man was empowered with an economic capacity that was best brought for by the ownership of land. Thereon, everyone was capacitated to etched their own living and with money in their pockets, they had become voracious buyers that for every garment and T-Model Ford vehicles manufactured in Industrial Age America, a horde of middle class have the money to consume them. When there are many potential buyers who waits in the by side, bloating with consumer power, any product or material put on sale will surely find their own buyers and thereon, more and more factories would rise from the ground to produce more and more products with waiting consumers ready to pounce and more and more hands are hired to man these rising industries. The end effect of this would be more and more money in the hands of a growing middle class, consuming perniciously the produce of the nation’s productivity and thereon sustaining the economic cycle.

In the 1990’s, the economic world were parading the term “consumer power” and it is consumer power of the population that becomes one of the primary motivations for any foreign investor that aims to put money in any developing nation. We have seen the rise of new tiger economies and the most recent among them are Malaysia and Thailand. One of the veritable characteristic of their economies was a better than fair consumer appetite. It is mainly an illusion or perhaps a passing exception to think that multinational companies are putting shop in our shores just because they just want to manufacture products aimed at other markets. They come thinking partly that whatever they produce, the local market is mature enough to help consume them. This is the main reason for China’s economic juggernaut. American companies started trooping to the star of the orient as early as the late 80’s initially because they were staring at one billion possible drinkers of softdrinks and one billion eaters of burgers and one billion possible drivers of Chevrolets. Cheap and skilled labor in that territory of course remains a great come-on for companies who aims to save on overhead costs. A bludgeoning local consumer made it easier for many multinationals to decide on locating their businesses in China.

How we always go back to that most basic economic law of supply and demand even in a world of gargantuan complications. As the demand grows, supply rises in collateral amount and still remains that when supply overlaps demand, prices would certainly go down. Increase in the unit of supply certainly generates the expectation that more economic activity is done and when economic activity is humming with enough fervor, more labor is needed and employment statistics improved greatly. Aside from this, resources are much more sought after, especially raw materials one gets from low-end sectors like farmers and sea traders and therefore the GDP ticks at a higher scale.

We must now see more closely at the “demand factor”, for in my view, demand is the key to the upswings in the supply and demand curve. We must create demand if need be and every economic manager should be looking at this x-factor in the equation of things. I have no professional training in economics except for a couple of economics subjects that I was forced-fed in college. My only wish is that creating demand is unlike creating a bridge when there is no river or lake. (I remember that joke about a politician who had promised his constituents in an election campaign that he would build a bridge in their locality while addressing a crowd. When someone in the crowd blurted out that there was no river in their place, the politician then declared rather pompously that in that case, he will build a river.) What I mean is that, does it take a genius to find out the way to finding demand blissfulness?

My view on the matter of supply and demand is more of that of a layman’s and yet I believe that the ordinary eye can at certain point see some complicated perspectives with a clearer vista.

This is where my soliloquy on the middle class comes in. We must keep on building and rebuilding our middle class which should compose every man and woman who puts his or her hand in labor, as apart from the excessively rich who doesn’t need to sweat anymore to make their life uplifted and from the extremely poor who at most times do not toil anymore for lack of capital or capacity to make a living. This is the Philippine middle class and almost every one of us belongs to this class—the farmer and the fishermen, the lawyer and doctors, the middle politicians, the tricycle drivers, teachers and government workers, the sellers of food in the market and of everyday gadgets in city sidewalks, the restaurateurs and those who are paid to act as clowns in many children’s’ parties, the cotton candy maker, the cigarette peddlers, the media men in some local news station, the cook and the chef, the athlete who are paid a measly allowance by the state, the radio announcer, the factory workers, the planters of camotes and cassavas, the harvesters of coconuts and the struggling artist. You name it and we got it.

We need to find a way on how to harness the potential power of the middle class. Like water rushing from a cliff, the hidden energy is just there to be discovered.

The most practical mode of developing the consumer power of the middle class is by encouraging some growth in their income and benefits. This may make our capitalists and our economic planners squirm even while they sleep yet there is no better alternative to this. It is one of those challenges that connote some sacrifices and many hardships especially in the initial stages. Our economic managers would look at this view with great disfavor since raising minimum wage so sharply would make us less competitive with our other Asian neighbors in attracting foreign investments. As a countermeasure to this apprehension, I suggest that the key towards higher take home pays of the labor sector is not by legislating a wage increase all too often (which would scare away foreign capital) but by enacting or initiating a selective and pro-active compensation scheme for the private sector where the increases would come by way of bonuses and supplemental benefits like for example such items as productivity pay and performance bonuses. The government could offer tax rebates and credits to companies who adhere to the payments of particular supplemental wages and afford them major discounts in importing duties and such other similar rewards. In this manner, the minimum wage is not disturb by sharp increases and only companies whose net incomes are in the upswing are more inclined to raise the level of income of their workers. So in lieu of a legislated wage increase, the state could enact a pro-active scheme where the pay of the workers is supplemented not by direct wage increases but by an assortment of benefits. Like for example, a company with substantial financial success could offer their workers benefits like monthly supply of a sack of rice or scholarships for the workers’ dependents. This manner of compensation, although not in terms of wage increases, would certainly alleviate the plight of our workers and increases their buying capacity.

The business world needs buyers and we can develop many more aggressive buyers through our laborers, the soul of the middle class. This is the ideal cycle of a healthy economy and not a cycle where the fruits of a nation’s economic upswing are stagnated in the hands of the few who stashes profits into some Swiss bank account. As a result, the profits gained do not redound to more resources poured into the economy by way of generated investments and higher benefits for labor. Earnings should be rolled over by putting them back into the capital market and one of the capital expenses are labor expenses.

In corporate and financial laws, companies are prohibited from retaining more than enough earnings in order to evade the circumstances where companies hide their true earning numbers by secluding a great portion of their income as retained earnings for research or development. Retaining too much earnings is considered in fraud of stockholders as well as of creditors. In the same breath, although not as prohibited, if many capitalists retain their private earnings by not distributing them back into the economy and instead hide them away in some foreign bank accounts, this is tantamount to economic sabotage where they could be acting as if they are leeches just out there to fattened themselves and run away when they have siphoned already more than enough blood. This is like a hit-and run in broad daylight.

When any growth in economy does not redound to a more uplifted living standard for our laborers, it becomes meaningless in the general scheme of things but is merely appreciated by the few who have capital in their hands.

Another mode of harnessing the consuming potential of the middle class is by a government-led widespread capacitating program by penetrating the root bases of our society—the rural dwellers and the urban poor—and instructing them on various livelihood activities. This is actually being done by the state even as we speak through the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) and through many other agencies, at many times in coordination with NGOs and international organizations like the World Bank and JAICA. This particular effort by the state should need to be more energized and spread out.

In any sense, we must invoke a fairer social justice in the distribution of our nation’s wealth in order that we reach the next level of industrialization. An economy without a powerful middle class would lack the instigating factors that could generate more and more business activity and growth is slow if not in a stand still. Our capitalists should begin to trust our economy and not keep on testing the water where they only shell out their money when they have ultimate certainty of return.

The cycle that we see the most fair is as simple as this: when the laborers and many other members of our middle class begin to have more than sufficient income, they begin to buy more cigarettes and beer and electronic appliances and toys and fancy garments and would begin to eat more in fastfood centers So we ask, isn’t it the capitalists themselves who will reap the fruits of a middle class with a vast consumer power?

The answer is of course a resounding yes.
(An article from 2011)