We have a traffic mess, port congestion, deficiency of power and inefficient if not dangerous public transportation. Without adding crime and poverty, disasters and medical emergencies like MERS from the Middle East and Ebola from Africa, we are not in the best of times. The question is how did this confluence of events and perils come to pass and arrive at the same time? Obviously, the circumstances leading to them come from a long way away, from decades of not planning, not preparing, not thinking.
I would say basically, the principal cause is not thinking. Thinking means envisioning, planning, analyzing and putting facts together to arrive at conclusions which should be acted on. Which government ignored the demographic trends of high population trends which would require more schools, more roads, more hospitals, more basic services? We have come a long way away and I would say every government since post World War II ignored what the future could bring from the trends of the present. Who planned ahead and came up prepared for the future? If someone did, nothing happened to show.
Meanwhile, governments were not the only ones at fault. What about the thinking population – the academics, scientists, technocrats, and other educated and working professionals. In their fields of specialization? Did they not come across circumstances that could be predictable for the future if one pondered on them and told the country? Did anyone think and talk of the future of all, the collective, rather than the individual?
What about media and its know-all proclivity to find fault, criticize, debunk and destroy? Did they ever think of the future from present news, events, influences and signs of the times? No signs of reflection there as a whole.
It is said that the Department of Public Works and Highways planned this road or that extension or a highway to traverse distances in places where there were no such services. We heard about them while they were on paper, in plans and in sundry wishful conversations, but were timely decisions ever made with the ingredients necessary to put them in operation? Were the plans translated into something built? Wasn’t it more than 20 years for one bridge somewhere in the North to be finally done?
When public transportation went modern late in the day at that (beyond buses and jeepneys) to the light railways, were provisions for maintenance and expansion also put in operation? What about power which has been the perennial bete noire of every government since Martial Law? Why do we have the highest electric rates in the world and counting? Why do we have power shortages regularly, why are the providers and the monitors arguing and passing the buck? Because the homework was never done.
One need not go on and on, the faults of the past have caught us up in spades and we are virtually at a standstill. Stopgap measures will not help except very temporarily. Real solutions must come and they can only come from planning, thinking and envisioning. That and making decisions that lead to action.
What are the think tanks among us doing? Shouldn’t they bring forth the problems and suggest the solutions way before that, plan the future? There are all sorts of talking heads in television and radio, if they make sense should not the responsible parties listen to them and act accordingly?
Meanwhile what about our lawmakers? Are they reflective enough to think of the country’s future and act accordingly with the necessary legislation and the implementing rules and regulations. They may need help to figure it out, but they can certainly call for it.
It seems that no one is listening to each other. While debate and discussion for present and future problems is needed making decisions to get it the right direction should result in good time.
Not too long ago there was the Philippine Futuristics Society that tried to look into the future vis-a-vis this country and its place in the world, but it seems to have faded away into silence and absence. It should resuscitate and give its inputs to government.
Modern societies plan for the future. Governments, academics, technocrats, people who are trained to contemplate the future and meet it to make their societies better and more up to date. A proliferation of think tanks contemplating the future, sponsored or self-activated, will help show the way to do things in a timely manner.
It is time to do things right by thinking right. Use vision, planning, decisiveness and act on them.