New Year, new beginning, new hope

Ej Lopez

Ej Lopez

At this stage of my life, it has always been a practice or even a tradition not only among us Filipinos, to reminisce or reflect at the recently concluded year and make it a basis to make amends for the coming year. This practice has obligated many to build their share of how to make the upcoming year at least better, if not same than the previous one. In more ways than one, people though not pronounced make a silent covenant and make promises or resolutions, but in all probabilities these are broken.

Gleaning from this, one can’t help but take a cue from how some systems work in this country. It seems that everyone, authorities particularly, make promises of “redemption” just to ease the burden of sufferings for some people, only to come out with broken promises later. As a result of these copious promises of deliverance from sufferings, people are made to expect better lives, but later disappointed leading to distrust and therefore resignation from hope.

The past few years saw the onslaught of all sorts of catastrophes that befell our nation. It came to a point where the incidents, fatalities and victims included are piling up one after another, that the government as well as the private sector have their hands full in addressing such kind of devastations. “Previous calamities have not been even resolved and here comes another one of even larger proportions emerging.” These incidents have tested the limits of government resiliency. Though the incidents may have not been fully addressed according to how people perceived it, because of some political misdemeanor in the middle of all the people’s sufferings, but with significant assistance coming from allied nations, it has nevertheless alleviated the plight of the victims and fatalities of the grimly affected regions.

The long-term solutions to what the problem that beset us seem to be uncertain. Local resources, no matter how you look at it, rest on shaky ground if we are to consider the magnitude of expenses that should go into the rehabilitation of the concerned regions. To say that that the region may possibly return to normalcy in the next four years is an overstatement. With an approximate 11 million people displaced by the super typhoon, it will need no less than 10 years to make this people have a semblance of normalcy in their lives. More than the physical and structural recovery of the region comes the people’s lives that needs to be rebuilt.

It should be borne in mind that when the smoke of the tragedy clears, there will be an approximate 10,000 people left dead by the catastrophe, not to mention the injured as well as victims of other typhoons more than a year ago in Mindanao, that up to now still await the promised assistance by authorities. But with the recent unprecedented devastation that toppled most of the Eastern Visayas, the “winds of change” promised in other areas may also have to be restructured much like the ruins caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

But with the turn to another year and a promise of change that accompanies every New Year, we hope to expect something significant in our desire for a much better Eastern Visayas and Mindanao. With former senator Panfilo Lacson at the helm of rehabilitation of the seriously affected regions, we hope to expect swift development and rehabilitation of the areas. We believe that his incorruptible nature as a politician will redound to the benefit of the people.

Bourse market
Despite some record-breaking performances of the bourse, particularly in the early part of 2013, we still see a negative average compared to 2012. Total equity deals in the Philippine Stock Exchange amounted to P175 billion in 2013, about a fifth lower than that of the previous year of P219 billion. Coming off from a bullish year, still we see a not so remarkable season for Philippine shares.

This can be attributed to mostly external influences and the so-called noneconomic determinants. Primarily, the surge of portfolio investments in the country was attributed to the “exodus” of investors from the previously well off and established regions that experienced a period of protracted recession. As such, the Asian region became the better alternative and a melting pot of investors. Over and above the perception of a high trust rating to our local leadership, the Philippines has become an attractive area for portfolio investments, as such the surge of trading in the local bourse for about a year or two. But due to the lack of a more concrete economic indicator that will push the local shares to stability and independence from foreign influences, thus the reality of the market surfaced.

More established economic indicators consists of consistent gross domestic product and gross national product growth rate, within reach inflation rate, lower unemployment rate, and better standard of living which includes lesser poverty incidence. Of course, more than that is a stronger and principled leadership that is free from any political influences.

Coupled with the forthcoming Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Economic Integration in about a year’s time, we need to build a strong economy that will be competitive with other regions of Southeast Asia. Despite all doubts raised on the question of our competitiveness, this corner firmly believes that we have more to gain than to lose in this unification. And these weaknesses that seem to surfaced will eventually become our strength in the long run. The quality of our labor force, which is our primary strength, will eventually lead us to competition come the Asean unification in 2015.

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