Manila Bulletin

Con­nec­tions count

- ASEAN

In this mod­ern age young peo­ple are prone to be­come in­de­pen­dent of their fam­i­lies ear­lier, es­pe­cially with the job op­por­tu­ni­ties and sig­nif­i­cant com­pen­sa­tion that call cen­ters pro­vide. Strik­ing on their own, they barely keep in touch with their par­ents, for­get­ting the years of car­ing and con­cern and mind­ful only of their present “barkada” (close friends). To them the con­nec­tions that count are those that ex­ist to­day, which give them the highs and help push their ca­reer and life ex­pe­ri­ences. While they are right in re­al­iz­ing that one can­not live alone and there­fore they must es­tab­lish link­ages, they are in­com­plete be­cause they have not con­nected the stream of their life­lines so that a ta­pes­try of con­nec­tions past, present and fu­ture en­rich their lifes’ jour­ney. In time it is hoped they learn that life is built on step­ping stones of con­nec­tions and they need to keep those steps solid and con­tin­u­ally uti­lized.

Filipino fam­i­lies are tra­di­tion­ally ex­tended ones, un­like Western fam­i­lies which are nu­clear. How­ever, mod­ern­iza­tion has re­sulted in Filipino fam­i­lies be­com­ing nu­clear with the bonds grow­ing weaker. This has re­sulted in quite a num­ber of ur­ban Filipino fam­i­lies or fam­i­lies abroad los­ing the con­nec­tions that strengthen the val­ues of con­ver­gence and col­lab­o­ra­tion. In times of cri­sis, these fam­i­lies lose the sup­port sys­tem so es­sen­tial to weather through and may re­sult in the dis­in­te­gra­tion of the nu­clear fam­ily. Those who main­tain the ex­tended re­la­tion­ships tak­ing ad­van­tage of so­cial media do not only ben­e­fit from the as­sis­tance of the ex­tended fam­ily dur­ing times of need but also ben­e­fit from the op­por­tu­ni­ties pro­vided by their ac­cess to more in­for­ma­tion. From these kinds of fam­i­lies emerge the global com­mu­nity that makes ev­ery mem­ber of the fam­ily, well in­formed, well pre­pared and well equipped to face the chal­lenges of glob­al­iza­tion. Con­nec­tions count but it must be nour­ished and main­tained to be ef­fec­tive.

Philip­pine busi­ness and of course en­trepreneur­s know the im­por­tance of con­nec­tions. From spot­ting busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties to mar­shalling re­sources, con­nec­tions mat­ter. In deal­ing with reg­u­la­tory agen­cies at the na­tional and lo­cal lev­els, con­nec­tions al­low a busi­ness to breeze through the bu­reau­cratic maze. Yet many busi­ness­men may have a lim­ited view of con­nec­tions, in the sense that they only look at their com­pa­nies and their cir­cle of clients, sup­pli­ers, work­ers, dis­trib­u­tors, etc. They for­get that an im­por­tant con­nec­tion is one that links them with other com­pa­nies in the in­dus­try, even if they are con­sid­ered com­peti­tors. With the in­creas­ing com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment brought about by the ASEAN re­gion­al­iza­tion on one hand and the myr­iad of op­por­tu­ni­ties emerg­ing, busi­nesses on their own may not be able to sur­vive and pros­per. Col­lab­o­ra­tion among com­pa­nies in the same field could re­sult in lower over­head charges and prod­uct unit cost al­low­ing the group to pen­e­trate other ASEAN coun­tries and fend off for­eign com­peti­tors en­ter­ing the Philip­pine mar­ket. In lob­by­ing to get the Philip­pine bu­reau­cracy to ad­just poli­cies and pro­grams to be­come fa­cil­i­ta­tive, more com­pa­nies are bet­ter heard than just one com­pany push­ing the ad­vo­cacy. Con­nect­ing the in­dus­try play­ers pro­duces a po­tent force for change.

What is true in busi­ness is very true in gov­ern­ment. When gov­ern­ment de­part­ments de­cide and act in iso­la­tion from what the rest of the gov­ern­ment is do­ing, the re­sult is chaos for their clients. When in­fra­struc­ture is be­ing built with­out the pro­po­nents con­nect­ing with the rest of gov­ern­ment units, ei­ther lo­cal or na­tional, traf­fic could be con­gested; usual path­ways blocked; wa­ter sup­ply lost, etc. When one is fo­cused on re­gional de­vel­op­ment and prov­inces de­cide to go on their own, the re­sult are waste of re­sources as each province ends up with its own in­ter­na­tional air­port or seaport and the train and road net­works are not syn­chro­nized. The flow of goods and ser­vices be­comes costlier as each province comes up with reg­u­la­tions ben­e­fit­ting it­self with­out re­gard to the ef­fect on oth­ers. Con­nec­tions count and if used prop­erly will re­sult in an en­vi­ron­ment that en­gen­ders peace, pros­per­ity and progress.

One won­ders why we do not pay enough at­ten­tion to the con­nec­tions that count.

melito.jr@gmail.com

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