3 Things Holding The Philippines Back From Becoming Another Singapore


I normally don’t allow copy and paste articles here, but this one is certainly worth reading, although it’s nothing that isn’t painfully obvious, I thought it was a good read. Thanks for finding this @marhead

REPOSTED FROM GetRealPhilippines.com

As Singapore celebrated its 50th year of independence, one cannot help but reflect on what could have been for our own country, the Philippines. After all, Singapore and the Philippines started as equals back in the 1960s. Records even suggests that the Philippines was the most developed country in the region during that time due to America’s assistance in recovery after the second world war. But alas, the Philippines has been left in the dust by the rest of its neighbors as each country learned to evolve through the times.


Intelligent and efficient Singapore: The country the Philippines could have been.

Similar to a marathon runner ahead in the race but who stumbled and suffered a spectacular fall, it has been hard for the Philippines to pick herself up. It’s become even more difficult after the country fell in the hands of the oligarchs who replaced former President Ferdinand Marcos after his ouster in 1986. Meanwhile, from what was described as a formerly sleepy port, Singapore had grown to become a global finance and trade hub. The legacy of Singapore’s founder former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew continues to guide the country’s multicultural society even after his death.

Some say it is not fair to compare Singapore to the Philippines because Singapore is smaller. The country is just 716 square kilometers, just a little bigger than Metro Manila. But like with most things, it’s not the size of something that matters but what you do with it that counts. Singaporeans obviously did a lot with their space in spite of the scarce resources within it. Just to give you an idea of what they had to deal with, the country had been relying on imported water from Malaysia for most of its water needs. In recent years, “the city-state has made its gutters, drains and rivulets a vast basin to catch rainfall” in addition to increasing the size of its water catchment areas just to ease their dependence on Malaysia. It is evident that instead of holding them back, lack of resources has certainly made Singaporeans become more resourceful.

Accommodating Singapore’s booming population seems like a welcome challenge for them as well. To manage the country’s growth, which is projected to reach six million people in the next two decades, the Singapore government has teamed up with experts from the “Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to devise ways to manage its expansion — knowledge it plans to export to other cities.” The whole point is “to study how cities work and how they can work better.” Those who have been to Singapore will know how efficient things are run in the country.

If only the Philippines can learn from Singapore and apply these to the task of managing its people and resources, the country can also join the rest of its neighbors at the finish line. Despite the Philippines’ vast resources and abundant talent pool, the country cannot seem to get its act together. Let us look at the reasons why:


1. Weak law enforcement leads to lack of discipline.

Lee Kuan Yew’s advice was: Filipinos need to develop discipline more than democracy. He was right. Democracy only works when the majority are informed and educated. That’s not the case in the Philippines. It seems there is this misguided notion among Filipinos that democracy means freedom to do whatever they want including breaking the law.

The reason why Filipinos lack discipline is because law enforcement agencies including the police and justice department do not or cannot do their jobs properly. To help them with their jobs, they have to realize that they are dealing with mostly ignorant and arrogant people so they need to apply zero tolerance and effect strict enforcement of the law. Otherwise, the people will not learn to obey the rules. Perhaps it would be best if members of the Philippine law enforcement agencies treat the populace like children who need guidance. That’s how it’s done in Singapore until now anyway. No chewing gum, anyone?

Everyday there is chaos on major roads in the Philippines due to lack of discipline. One wonders what the traffic enforcers are doing to fix the problem. Nothing, it seems. Every day there is someone throwing garbage in the river and someone building a new shack illegally on private and public lands. One wonders what the police and local government agencies are doing to nip the problem in the bud. These are just some of the violations that are tolerated in the country. Some say this is so because politicians patronize the masses to get their votes. Which brings us to the next item.


2. Patronage politics has perverted democracy.

It’s also called padrino system. This is the reason why law enforcement is weak in the Philippines. The law is not applied equally to everyone. This is evident in the way incumbent public servants use selective justice in prosecuting criminals. This is why a lot of people think it’s okay to do the crime. If you need further convincing, just look at how President BS Aquino treats his allies. When people see others get away with violating the law just by being friends with those in power or by bribing those in power, their natural tendency is to emulate or copy what they see. A lot of the elite members of Philippine society do this to get away with violating the law. Those from the lower class just copy the behavior of those from the upper class.

Mismanagement and mediocrity ruined the Philippines.

Mismanagement and mediocrity ruined the Philippines.

This is precisely the reason why it is best to first ask the elite members of Philippine society to change instead of asking or expecting the masses to change.

As long as patronage politics is strong in the Philippines, the country will not progress. You can even see patronage politics on the road. The buses that block the road on EDSA and cause major traffic jams are operated by the elites and, unfortunately, these bus operators are not doing anything to discipline their drivers and neither are the traffic enforcers doing anything drastic since they more than likely get a cut from the bus operators.



3. Anti-intellectual attitudes discourage critical debate.

An anti-intellectual attitude in the Philippines is a problem that has plagued the country since the mid 1980s. The problem started when Filipinos allowed a “reluctant” housewife with no expertise in running a government to become the President of the Republic. Instead of promoting excellence, former President Cory Aquino promoted mediocrity. The society also became increasingly emotional and vindictive.

One just needs to look at the current crop of public servants today and one will realize why the country is run like hell. Instead of voting for experts and professionals or at least someone with more experience and vision, Filipinos love putting a lot of celebrities and popular personalities and their relatives in powerful positions in government.

It seems as though Filipinos are allergic to people who have knowledge and expertise in solving the country’s problems so they would rather go for someone who they can relate with even when nothing is being done to solve the country’s woes. No wonder the country’s public transport system is almost in ruin.

It’s only in the Philippines where intellectuals are ostracised. When you explain something that is deemed too complicated for the average person, they will simply dismiss you with “eh di wow!” or similar exasperated expressions in a condescending manner. It is the reason why some intellectuals would rather go with the flow than risk being shamed for using their heads.

As long as intellectuals and experts are not in charge of the Philippines, the country will not reach the same status as Singapore.

The above reasons are what is holding the Philippines back from reaching First World status. They all pertain to Filipino cultural traits. There are some who would say that the country’s flawed system is what’s holding the country back and suggest that perhaps a parliamentary form of government will help foster intellectual discourse. However, the system is only as good as the people. There is very little chance a good system will be designed by a society that is lacking in discipline, is anti-intellectual, and is imprisoned by patronage politics. Sadly, such a society is guaranteed to either remain stagnant or become worse in the decades to come.


Published in Article Commentary


  1. Profile gravatar of Phil Doh
    Phil Doh

    They have some decent writers on getreal, and it’s refreshing to read from pinoys who don’t have their heads totally stuck in the sand, but they often seem to hark back to some fantasy golden age (Marcos regime) where the country was clean, booming and full of intellectuals. Reading quotes from Spanish and American occupation shows that pinoy’s lazy and deceitful attitudes have always been the same, therefore they will never be the next Singapore.

    1. Profile gravatar of Johnny

      Yeah, the Marcos people have done a really good job of getting everyone to look back at what a great place the Philippines was. It’s funny cause if you watch any USA or external documentary, the Marcos regime was the worst ever and the amount of money they stole or what they let their cronies get away with really crippled the country.
      Plus, what kind of “great leader” escapes the country in the middle of the night with billions stashed away? I know the Philippines has really low standards, but that alone should show what a criminal he was.
      Then there are the filipinos who say, “marcos would have been a great president if Imelda wasn’t there. She was the real problem”. What a bunch of morons who say that cause, SHE WAS THERE! What kind of un-reality type of nostalgia is that?

      Yep, just look at the quote on the home page of pfb from Longworth in 1906. He pretty much nails it more than 100 years ago about the Filipino character/ culture.

      1. Profile gravatar of Don Quixote
        Don Quixote

        I have noticed this, too.
        It doesn’t matter what documentary you watch, they imply it was Marcos that killed Nino Aquino, and yet without doubt.
        Every person convicted even whilst serving their sentences state , it was not Marcos, they even Identify the ring leader conspirator.
        Its is glossed over quickly and they go back to Marcos, get an Aquino to back it up as the truth, how would the Aquino children know who ordered the hit ???????????
        The proof is in the the saying, FOLLOW THE MONEY.
        Whose Gigantic estate is still whole as they work out how many Billions of Dollars the family will get as compensation.
        The first to be carved up is still whole, whilst they argue about who get what and how much they get and the value is all held up by TRO in the courts.
        What did the Marcos es get, People Power !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No Money.
        Could it be the next President of the Philippines was a member of the very same family that had the most to lose????
        , People Power meant nothing in the overall scheme of things.
        I heard this from US Navy Intelligence Officer years ago. It was all glossed over and swept under the rug.
        Who was

        1. Profile gravatar of Johnny

          From what I hear of the older people in Manila. Imelda was pretty much running most of the show from 1981 since Ferdinand was sick. She made a statement that Aquino would never set foot back on Filipino soil. According to most at the time, it was Imelda who ordered the guy to assassinated. Of course others state it was his brother in law, but who really knows.
          The big issue is it was done in broad daylight with witnesses. He was escorted off the plane by soldiers and got a bullet in his head some 50 feet from the plane he just got off from,,,,, with a military escort. One lady even had a tape recorder running at the time and did not remember until later. In the recording the witnesses could be heard saying, “My god, those soldiers just shot him” in the waiting room.
          How the hell does that happen and no one goes to jail. If 2 police officers “escort” someone off a plane and he is in their custody, then gets shot 30 seconds later, its pretty obvious who did it. It should be easy to arrest, then trace who did it, and then find out who ordered it.
          Of course, the simplest things are intentionally fucked up by Filipinos. Asking Filipinos to investigate and find someone obviously guilty in their awful court system is like asking them to get their masters degree. In the end its cheaper and less time consuming.

  2. Profile gravatar of Johnny

    The best hope for the Philippines at this point is an asteroid hits it. The “reset” button needs to be hit and possibly the OFW’s from the USA, Singapore, UK, Aus, etc) return to run it properly,,,, possibly.
    Filipinos cry they want a better country, but they really don’t because that requires sacrifice and work. They are not willing to shame each other when it comes to selling votes or when it comes to stealing. The local mayor steals, but ass-kissing filipinos can’t wait to tell him “god bless ninong mayor sir” or “thank you for great job po” instead of saying, “you corrupt piece of shit, I hope you die!”. The corruption is blatant for all to see yet filipinos simply shrug their shoulders.
    One of the main things that used to get me so mad was seeing my local “leaders” faces all over the city. Just constant propaganda and self-promotion for themselves with that filipino, “you know I’m corrupt and I know it too” look. I couldn’t go 2 miles without seeing my local mayors face somewhere or some shitty politicians face. It was almost like those signs were saying, “Yep, I’m the guy responsible for such a shit-hole community and I’m a big thief and damn proud of it.”
    When it comes to the politicians, they are not willing to do any actual work other than steal. Look at any mayor, vice-mayor, governor, etc. They open new businesses like restaurants, hotels, supply stores, etc while they are in office. So, it obvious they got the money from somewhere to start the business and next its obvious they are using their business to filter gov’t money to themselves. It’s all done right in the open.
    Instead of doing actual work, Filipino society accepts talking about something as the equivalent of doing it. So the idiots just take their words for it, there is no follow up when a local mayor says what a great job HE is doing. So, he just needs to give a speech once a week or announce some BS project or repair the same road again and claim its progress by saying we are #1. Idiot filipinos accept that and cheer “salamat po mayor” instead of challenging the obvious bullshit being spewed.
    There is no community activism, no outspoken critics, no student activists, no business leader unity, no old-lady group when community concerns, no sense of society, no care, etc. So the community does not even care or see itself as a co-dependant society. There is no “us”, its only “me-first” and I could care less about anyone else except to proclaim what a great Catholic I am. Hell, there thousands of people in every town with NOTHING to do and they are just standing there all day, yet they won’t even pick up a simple piece of trash in their own community.
    Hell, people could simply start a local FB page (anonymously) to highlight the corruption. Just need to take pics of the mayors house, the police chiefs house, the DPW managers house, etc and post it. Post that along with their expensive cars, numerous shady businesses they open, scam projects they implement, crumbling infrastructure, etc. They do nothing that might possibly gain attention cause as a community or a people, they don’t care outside of simply saying they care.
    it really is a doomed society. Even with the best president in a long time, they still suck ass. So what happens when the next, actual corrupt president takes over?

  3. Profile gravatar of kalbo

    The answer is that the flips have too much pride to listen, understand, learn or utilise anything from the outside world. Anything foreign is torn down and pissed on. Singapore and other places like Hong Kong actually realised that lots of the colonial things were actually worth keeping such as british financial courts. They know what works for them and what doesnt. They know that success leads to more success. This means when you make money, if you reinvest it, you can end up with even more.

    When the fllips see success, they want to rip it apart and sell it off in pieces. Then when there’s nothing left, they blame the Kano.

    I’ve come to realise recently that the flips are the most territorial people I have met. They each take a piece of the territory which might be a touristy area, a parking space or a sector of industry such as buses and taxis. They then seek to dominate it using corrupt methods and bleed it dry of cash. Being greedy cunts, the flips pocket all the cash and dont bother reinvesting it. The little territory then goes into decline and so does their income. So, they change tack and come up with another scam.

    1. Profile gravatar of Johnny

      Yep, and there is very little if any planning.
      Our town had an ok mall. It was small, but it served the city at the time. Then came a bigger mall about .5km away that was developed in a responsible way for growth and the land owners did a good job managing what businesses went in. The mall became the focal point of the town and the original mall still did ok despite the fact they both had a lot of the same stores and a jollibbee in each one. however, as there was a lot of walk-by traffic and any city is just jam-packed with Filipinos, it did ok.
      So, our “great leaders” thought, why not more malls? So in an area between the orginal 2 malls, they squeezed in another mall, a “high class” mall, and next to the focal point of the mall, they are going to put in an SM. That is 4 malls in an area less than 1km. That is 2 McDonalds, 4 Jollibbees, more cell phone stalls, 3 inasals, and 3 movie theaters all within 1KM!!
      Then the morons cheer on how its progress and more jobs. Even local Filipinos I thought were smart were cheering it on. I told them you are just taking the retail market and breaking it down into smaller pieces. In a few years people will start to go out of business and one mall will become abandoned.
      I asked, why didn’t you assholes put up a small factory or better yet and IT park. An IT park with fast internet and stable power would attract good jobs, smarter people, higher wages, and an economy to cater/ support it. I said, “all you’re going to get are more retail jobs which pay P250 a day and sales girls just standing around, and maybe a manager making P500 a day. You’re not creating more jobs, but simply diluting the retail market. This is the province, people who travel here want to see nature or something different since they are burned out on city malls in Manila/ Cebu; why not focus on that?”I got blank stares right back at me. Luckily the foreigners agreed with me and even pointed out how we don’t even go to malls any more in the USA since we just order online.

      Basically what I came to realize is the city (which also increased property taxes 100%) does not have to pay any money for those malls. Instead, the mayor get a nice kickback for getting the permits through. Then he can say he brought progress to the city. If he wanted to develop the IT park or something natural for people to enjoy, he’d have to actually spend money instead of stealing it even though it would generate more money later on.

      Now they are building an international airport in an area no one wants to go to. Of course, our great governor has been pushing this project for a long time and juuuuussssstttt happens to own all the land surrounding the new airport. Oh, and the current airport will become another mall. Filipinos really are the dumbest people. They will cheer on a train wreck if the local leaders tell them its progress.

      1. Profile gravatar of Sarah

        “why didn’t you assholes put up a small factory or better yet and IT park. An IT park with fast internet and stable power would attract good jobs, smarter people, higher wages, and an economy to cater/ support it.”

        Don’t be silly Johnny! That requires too much brain work. Brains that Flips don’t have. Better to have an air con mall for the population to spend time in and pose, take photos for Facebook. Doesn’t matter if the mall’s life span are only 20 years if that! That’s if they survive that long, what with their flimsy construction, typhoons, earthquakes, racing on which ones could bring that monstrosity down first 🙂

        1. Profile gravatar of Johnny

          ” That requires too much brain work. ”
          Yeah, maybe I’m asking waaaayyy too much of the Filipino “leaders”, but anyone with the slightest foresight and brains looks at least a few years into the future. Maybe one day when the place is in ruin or gone the way of Zimbabwe or Somolia, they will look back and realize how much was wasted, stolen, and never reinvested into the people. Hey, at least they will always be “great catholics”.

  4. Profile gravatar of

    I think there is only 1 thing wrong with the ROP. EVERYTHING. I cant think of any possible solution. The politicians want it this way and there is no desire from the community for change. That is that. Until there is a real desire for change, the status quo will remain.

    1. Profile gravatar of 30-30

      The only way they will change is if the whole world boycotts this black hole.. Change will come from the outside,, not the inside.
      However that is a hopeless dream with the politicians we have in power now!!!!!

  5. Profile gravatar of Johnny

    Seriously, it might be too late.
    They overpopulated to fast and never educated the culture towards anything. The main staple of the country is basically cheap, unskilled labor,, nothing more. Not to mention the corruption, lack of discipline, terrible infrastructure, thievery, and the most contributing factor I believe is the justice system.

    1. Profile gravatar of Phil Doh
      Phil Doh

      With the population predicted to rise to 150 million by 2050 it’s hard to see how that cheap unskilled labor business model will continue to keep the economy afloat with 50 more million hungry mouths to feed. Filipinos can’t even look towards the next week and plan for anything, so nobody will be looking at where they will be in 35 years. Doomed.

      1. Profile gravatar of Johnny

        Yep, they will be the country that watched every opportunity pass them by. They had it all and should have been on top. If you took Thai people and had them take over the PHilippines, they would turn into a beautiful tourist destination and take full advantage of the fruitful land.
        Can this be a lesson that the Catholic Church should never be involved in ANY countries political process or have so much power? Their record is just dismal.

  6. Profile gravatar of

    I see they even built a nuclear power station at Bataan but it has so many thousands of defects they can never turn it on. They do still have to monitor it and keep it secure. What a waste.

  7. Profile gravatar of Don Quixote
    Don Quixote

    The Nuclear Reactor was built by Westinghouse I think, NO DEFECTS as far as I know, I drove by it years ago and found it, no one locally even knew it existed, they thought I was seeing things.
    I live 20 min from it.
    Cory, turned the PI into NON NUCLEAR as Marcos had the thing built. they pay Westinghouse something like $186,000 a week or a month in interest.
    If it was defective I doubt they would be doing that, we know what they pay their debts like.?????
    The reason they give, is they built it on a fault line.
    But all of the PI is a fucking fault line.
    I watched the head of Phil. Volcanics talk about it when questioned about the fault, he said if there was a super earthquake he wanted to be inside that containment dome, as it was built to the highest standard anywhere on earth.
    WHAT I cant understand is why not pump Natural Gas into the fucking thing if it is all there. Gas burners to create steam and bobs your uncle. Electricity.
    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, we will build a coal fired power plant in Subic no more than 10 miles from never commissioned nuclear plant.
    I am glad they never turned that Nuc, on can you imagine in your minds eye, Flips maintaining that thing there is no way ever they could educate the flips to be Nuc Technicians to operate it.
    Which is probably more the point.

    1. Profile gravatar of Mike

      I think it was about 5 years back filipinos talked about bringing it back online but decided not to. The one smart decision filipinos made in MHO. I don’t think a country with a proven low IQ should run a nuke plant. The we get into the other areas.
      1.) Will pinoys sell the nuclear waste under the table?
      2.) Will they sell the uranium or plutonium under the table?
      3.) Who would run, repair and maintain it? Filipinos are not trust worthy, reliable nor smart enough. No way they could afford people from first world countries to do it.

    2. Profile gravatar of Random Numbers
      Random Numbers


      The fact that they always build coal, when gas turbine generators are cheaper to run, less polluting, and come up to rated power faster should tell you a lot about their standards! Heck, they can’t even maintain coal-fired steam plants properly, can you imagine how often a gas turbine plant would be down for “unknown” reasons (unknown being operator error here, naturally)?

  8. Profile gravatar of

    Hey Don, probably best for all of us if they dont turn it on. Imagine the disaster after they screwed it up and had a melt down. Their emergency services would just run away and hide. Then everybody would say together …not my fault!.

  9. Profile gravatar of

    Where did the belief that you can walk in front of any vehicle, moving at any speed, and put up your hand to say stop and the vehicle magically does, come from.? It happens continuously while we drive and drives me nuts! Its hard enough driving here but you need eyes like a fly to see all the morons walking through moving traffic.

    1. Profile gravatar of Random Numbers
      Random Numbers

      Oh, you wouldn’t like me then. I do that myself, but only when traffic is going 6 kph or less. If I waited for the drivers here to come to a COMPLETE stop here, I would still be waiting to cross the street from my first trip here back in 2001!

  10. Profile gravatar of BLX2

    I didn’t read the article. The title is in error. There is only one thing and one thing only holding the Philippines back…

    It’s filled with Filipino’s.