Paul Allen laid bare our nation’s many handicaps


As the whole nation giddily anticipates a boxing match, Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen has stunned the world with an important exploration find—the sunken remains of the Japanese warship Mushashi just off Sibuyan island in Romblon. But the other stunning thing, though in a negative way, is this: nobody in this nation of world-class usiseros knew anything about the exploration.

Not only our usiseros were caught off-guard by the find. Who really knew something big was going on in the Sibuyan deep?

Not the Navy, not the local authorities, not the Historical Commission people, not even the fishermen of Sibuyan. Not even a local group whose mission is to find the proper place of Sibuyan in history. The local group said it was just as surprised with the Allen discovery, done under their very noses, all of them blissfully unaware that an exploration of such magnitude—and literal depth—was taking place right in their sea waters.

Were our collective minds so addled by a May boxing match that we lost consciousness of the fact that we are a nation which should be just as concerned with the truly important things that are taking place around us? We all want Manny Pacquiao to win this match for national pride and perhaps for Mommy Dionisia (so we won’t see her teary-eyed on national TV and having those made-for-TV breakdowns). We want Mr. Pacquiao to bring glory to the country. But a boxing match, no matter its importance to our pride, should not exclusively be our reason for being.

Mr. Allen did not embark on this exploration by heading off to Sibuyan pronto, without a real preparation. His sophisticated luxury and exploration vessels would not have left, say their homeports in Seattle, without meticulous researches on where, exactly, in the waters of Romblon did American naval ships sink Mushashi during World War II. There must have been countless reconnaissance in the pinpointed areas, Mr. Allen brushed up on war history before undertaking on his quest to locate sunken mighty battleships. It was hard work and long preparation.

His vessels did not just stray there, definitely, to give Mr. Allen the boasting rights to tweet to the world what remained of Mushashi and the Chrysanthemum seal.

So where were we during that milestone event in exploration and war history right in our own seas? I know the answer: Arguing over the issue that is right now most important to nationhood, a boxing match. Or, making telebabad to be updated on a teleserye.

Por Dyos por santo, if you do not feel any embarrassment or slight over the Allen discovery, you are automatically conceding on the hopelessness of this country. Mr. Allen’s feat did not just bring home the sad point that so many important things are happening right in our own backyard and we know nothing about these things. Sadder, Mr. Allen drove home the point that Internet tools, from tweets to transmission of photos, are better used to convey to the world earth-shaking events, not selfies and the insane rants of netizen-trolls.

And this message: Have brains and you can turn the world upside down.

Nobody will say this so I will say it now. How did Mr. Allen become the man he is? How was he able to fund those fancy exploration ships and personal luxury vessels that enabled him to spring a surprise on our Jurassic, if not non-existent, exploration work? How was he able to make Pacquiao’s wealth (the envy of the Pinoy 99 percent) measure like a laboring man’s wages? The January list of the world’s wealthiest ranked Mr. Allen the 47th wealthiest in the world with his estimated wealth of $17.5 billion,

One word—algorithm.

All the iconic brand of information technology were created by young men who can code, program and compute. One proficiency is the foundation of it all – algorithm. It was their superior programming skills that enabled boyhood friends Paul Allen and Bill Gates (who started out at the teletype terminals of Allen’s Seattle high school) to start Microsoft. Allen, who dropped out from Washington State, convinced Gates to drop out of Harvard to start their global behemoth in operating systems.

The rest is history. While Gates is touching our lives through support to IRRI on rice research, Allen just intruded in our nation’s life through a major exploration find.

Mr. Allen’s life and times all but dismissed as frivolous the preoccupation and the highest pursuits of millions of young Filipinos, which are summed up below.

Can you dance?
Can you sing ?
Can you box?
Do you have an impressive vertical leap?

Much as they are marketable and useful and profit-generating skills, they are penny-ante pursuits once compared to the kids who code and program, But what about the glamor?

While those who code cannot play in the NBA for lack of the required skill set, they can buy entire NBA franchises. Steve Ballmer, once a colleague of Mr. Allen at Microsoft, recently made a $2 billion acquisition of the LA Clippers franchise.

Mr. Allen, if you don’t know this yet, owns the Portland Trailblazers and the Seattle Seahawks. He is the one who bankrolls the awesome dunks—and the $16 million yearly pay—of La Marcus Aldridge. But instead of tweeting on the renaissance of his Blazers, he would rather literally go deep to help mankind clear some murky chapters in our history.


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  1. Leodegardo Pruna on

    When talking out of politics, the Filipino says leave it to the marines. God bless the Philippines.

  2. your article forgot one more skill that the current generation seeks

    *can you get yourself elected to public office and steal and murder fellow citizen and get away with it.

  3. Pete Gabriel on

    This is very interesting observation Mr. Ronqillo. Paul Allen is not like our Pilipino politicians, they open up their big mouth over scandalous and trivial stuff, to create attention to themselves. He does things that a conventional man would not even think possible. The Philippines have a bigger problem brewing in our backyard, communist China is taking over our backyard, and building air bases and naval bases right in our traditional fishing ground. There is very little attention being place on this issue. WHY?