Friday, April 15, 2011

"Made In China"

"Made In China"

The “made in China” bugaboo is reminiscent of the post war Japan products, and following a bit later, the Taiwanese products, both of which acquired the stigma of being shoddily made and invariably looked at as synonymous to cheap and inferior. The major difference between the Japanese and Taiwanese phases as compared to that of China’s is that the former were borne out of dire situations, Japan from the ravages of war and Taiwan over a long period of deprivation resulting from the lack of natural resources being a small “renegade nation” that was stymied by the constant takeover threat by China. Perhaps much earlier China might have been in a similar situation. They have been saddled by unproductive, if not destructive politically inspired revolutions, a burgeoning population to feed, an almost non-existent infrastructure covering a vast tract of land and the realization of what seemed to have been a failed ideology after the USSR conversion to non communist modified capitalistic states, but, as we have seen in the more recent years this modification seemed to have been the force that spurred the economic growth in China. Capitalism was no longer the shibboleth then associated with the evils of democracy.
Now that they had already risen above the turmoil of change  and having tasted the success of early attempts at providing cheap labour to western manufacturing concerns they were emboldened to get into manufacturing their own products and engage in international business. This resulted into the proliferation of cheap China products. What ensued was breakneck industrialization fuelled by cheap labour which had attracted the world’s leading manufacturers to bring their production requirements to China.

Small to medium sized local manufacturers have been turning out low cost products with no concern about the consumer’s well being not because of survival pressures but that of greed and a mad rush to grab the opportunities of a high global demand.  High demand has caused the Chinese to compromise on quality and safety.

It has been found out that food products being exported out of China have been tainted by ingredients that are not food grade or in some, dangerous to human consumption. The melamine in dairy products which resulted into sickness and deaths among babies is the best known example of this irresponsible act. The examples that have been cited are numerous. In America there have been reports of pet deaths resulting from “made in China” pet foods. The same incidence has been reported in other countries as well. In medicines, toxic ingredients have been analyzed in cold remedies which resulted in the deaths of those who have taken them. Cheap but toxic substitutes have been used in the manufacture of over the counter medicines, dietary supplements and toys. The Panamanian Health Authorities  reported  hundreds of deaths from medicines imported from China and the much publicized Mattel toys incident where lead poisoning has been reported.

Not all China products are bad. Electronic products (computers, Ipods, Blackberries etc), appliances, automotive products, agricultural products, haberdashery, heavy industries, etc. are of acceptable quality and are a bargain compared to those manufactured in the Japan, the US and other leading industrialized countries. These are a boon to the less affluent countries because they are made available to them at prices their people can afford. Those in the third world benefited from the cheap but quality electronic products and other conveniences that would have been out of reach if it were not for the cheaply priced but relatively hi-tech products. Intellectual protection (IP) could be controversial in some of the product areas here, but then again, that is a separate issue which could be subject of another discussion.

World markets are composed of the affluent ones in first world countries and the middle to poor countries in the developing and third world markets. There will always be a market for cheap products because there are more poor countries than there are affluent ones and with the changing fortunes of some western economies cheap products are finding acceptance among the “new poor” nations. A colleague mentioned that “It is all about the "value for money equation" and it applies equally to the East as well as the West”.
China products will have to be looked at critically and that the consumer will have to be cognizant of the age old adage in marketing; “Caveat Emptor” or let the buyer beware. Practicing a good measure of precaution might be in order.

Product areas that are potential health hazards must be shunned; this will include ingestible products and those that may be potentially harmful to children who may be unwary and highly susceptible to inadvertent contact and use of the product.

Earlier on there was the perception that the China bashing was being fanned by the pr efforts of countries who were threatened by the seeming upsurge of China's dominance in world business. Protectionism by incumbent leaders, fair or foul has always reared its head in world commerce. These world leaders are notorious for their protectionist efforts. In our country, our coconut industry has been dealt a foul blow when the US laboratories at the prodding of the Soybean Association of America declared laurics (coconut oil) as artery clogging and detrimental to health.  The National Heart Savers Association launched a vicious media blitz against tropical oils.  Research findings since the 1950’s have lauded coconut oil as having the best properties health wise and in culinary use. In the sugar industry, a once thriving agricultural sector which at one time contributed about 8 % of our domestic output has been harmed by price pressures in the international market in favour of high fructose corn grown in the US. The SARS scare in Asia, the celebrated mad cow disease and the bird/swine flu were highly suspected of being ploys to weaken the economies/countries affected by it. In fairly recent history, WTO would have protectionist horror stories which have put the less developed countries at a disadvantage. The power of media wielded by the western countries is tremendous and this could spell disaster to hapless countries unlucky enough to be targeted by it.  
However, it would be hard to deny the ill effects of some “made in China” products because these have been documented and validated by experts and even by some of us who could have had a firsthand experience of it, but somewhere between the drummed up news and actual occurrence of incidents would lie the degree of severity and the gravity of the incidents. The drumbeat might have been ten octaves louder than what some of the bad news deserved. The big players form cliques and have international media on their side through influence and financial clout that could effectively disseminate misinformation and disinformation churned out by their “expert” institutions and personalities. Some of the incidences were statistically insignificant and yet the western “spin” doctors made them a “cause celebre” that reverberated around the globe.

 China may have been guilty of irresponsible manufacturing of certain products and yet one cannot be blind to the technologically acceptable product outputs in a lot of their other industries. The Chinese manufacturers who have been remiss in product safety and quality might have come from the smaller manufacturing sectors where there was a feverish rush to make money and an eagerness not to miss out on the opportunities prevailing. The government should put more controls in these areas where most harm can be done to consumers. They fully understand the seriousness of the problem and have put efforts to improve product quality and shore up their tarnished image. They have had little success thus far. In time the diligent research and development activities and the constant improvement of quality control procedures will pay dividends and when this happens there is no stopping China into becoming the premier economy of the world. As we were wont to say rather the end China will win.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Remember the Congress of 2011!"

I have often wondered why there are holidays that celebrate downfalls and defeats of empires, institutions and battlegrounds when these events do not seem to have any cause for celebration. There are plenty of examples in world history where these debacles are feted and celebrated on the date of their occurrence. The Fall of the Bastille, in France; the Fall of the Roman Empire; the Fall of Constantinople and in the Philippines some defeats that we celebrate are the Fall of Tirad Pass; the Fall of Corregidor and the recently celebrated Fall of Bataan.
I racked my mind for possible explanations why there is this universal penchant for celebrating major setbacks in history. One quite obvious reason is that there are lessons to be learned from it so that they may not be repeated. Another is the creation of a rallying point as in “Remember the Alamo” where quite a number of heroes were slaughtered when the red flag was raised by General Sta. Ana. From another viewpoint it may also be the instilling of pride with the troops and the population to celebrate the victory against the foe. It is also possible that reliving the pain and the anguish of a defeat brings out a catharsis of sorts and that the angst it produces elicits aversion towards war and consequently the renunciation of all the evils associated with it...or it may be the masochistic delight from the vicarious experience of having undergone pain and suffering manifested in a good cry evoked by a martyred wife, an abused child in telenovelas and movies. Oh how we love to nurture our hurts...empathize and relate with the downtrodden and the oppressed.

Of recent vintage is the Fall of Moral Sense in Congress.

Shouldn’t we include this in our list celebrated defeats? The Fall of Moral Sense in Congress...a rout like no other. What reason shall we ascribe to its celebration?  I would liken it to the Fall of the Alamo as it was a total slaughter save for a few. A day of infamy which should be remembered as the day when the forces of evil overwhelmed the forces of light...this is the kind of evil ascendancy that will continue to perpetuate the moral degeneration of our country which started from the ascension of Marcos into power. The cry should be “Remember Congress of 2011” so that the villainy of those who were supposed to be our alter egos in government will forever be etched in our minds and could be a call to arms against the betrayal of our faith and for a reformation of our government institutions who have fallen into deep ignominy.
The immoral lesson learned here is that crime does pay and the perpetrators of it are being honoured for it to boot. This is a tale told innumerable times during the Martial Law days when the dictator and his conjugal accomplice together with the powerful in the military and those who lived under his patronage brazenly abused their evil provenance.   
Many of those born during those times; the Martial Law Babies, have lived their lives thinking that these are how things are and did not know any better. The examples have been set and consequently emulated by many. Many of us parents had a hard time shielding our children from the effects of the display of evil in our midst.  And now 216 congressmen have affirmed and endorsed this way of life. And so it will live on; the Martial Law Babies are middle aged now and have children of their own but the same corruptive atmosphere pervades.

I shudder to think what follows.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


1. The recent quakes we have been experiencing must have been caused by the remains of real heroes turning in their graves simultaneously.
2. At the Libingan ng Mga Bayani two war veterans sitting on their tombstones upon seeing the new internments... “there goes the neighbourhood”.
3. It’s not true that they are considering a change of name for our heroes’ burial grounds into Libingan ng Mga Bayani, atbp.
4. If FM is buried in Libingan ng Mga Bayani the real heroes will rise and walk over to Heritage Park
5. To be fair to the legitimate heroes there should be a place in the fringes of Libingan Ng Mga Bayani for heroes in waiting whose claims to heroism are still being validated. Any Tom, Dick and Ferdie (or Angie) cannot arrogate upon themselves heroism on their mere say so.
6. Ninoy had foresight when he opted for an ordinary citizen’s burial and not as a hero in Libingan Ng Mga Bayani.
7. Isn’t it ironic that it had to take another Mccoy (Alfred) to debunk Macoy’s (FM) claim to war time heroism. Macoy is not the real Mccoy.
8. The efforts to make a hero out of Marcos is like a mango “na hinog sa pilit”. If Marcos comes out as a “hero sa pilit”...“ang sama na ng lasa ang pangit pang pakinggan.”
9. Angie Reyes is a hero to his sons as Macoy is a hero to Bongbong. That is as far as their heroisms go.
10. The No Mottos

• For the Army “No tanks, no thanks.”
• For the Air Force “No plane, no fly.”
• For the Marines “No ammo, no gung-ho.”
• For the Ligots “No talk, no talk”
• For the Chief of Staffs.“No aprub, no pabaon”
• For the Abu Sayaf's "No ransom, no release."
• For Macoy “No medals, no hero”
• For Erap "No read, no write."
• For Jinggoy “No Belo, no gwapo”
• For Manny “No money, no Jinky”
• For the Ombudsman “No Mercy, no Merci
• For Kris “No shame, no fame”
• For Jocjoc “No grain, no gain”
• For Rabusa “No amnesty, no honesty"
• Noynoy “No Cory, No Glory”
• Ping “No show, nowhere”

Here We Go Again: AFP Hall of Heroes Includes Marcos

Here we go again! Headline…AFP Hall of Heroes Includes Marcos (philstar Apr 7, 2011).
The controversy on “Libingan ng mga Bayani” regarding the internment of Angelo Reyes and the Marcoses’ bid to have the Apo given a similar honor has not yet died down and another one comes along. Marcos is included in the Hall of Heroes of the AFP. Brig. Gen. Restituto Aguilar, historical consultant of the AFP Museum, said Marcos can be included in the Hall of Heroes despite the controversies surrounding his war medals.
“Those who contest the authenticity of his medals should substantiate their allegations. It shall undergo investigations and should follow a process,” Aguilar told The STAR.
Just a little back tracking in the news archives would have told Gen. Aguilar that the US never officially gave Marcos medals for heroism. That is an incontrovertible fact and all the documented evidence you need could be found in the National Archives in Washington DC and easily accessible Internet sources. What needs substantiation is Marcos claim to heroics which his family and sycophants are trying so hard to prove.
Kiddingly, the recent quakes we have been experiencing must have been caused by the remains of real heroes in the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani turning in their graves simultaneously.

It took a Mccoy to expose the fraud of Macoy’s “Maharlika”
Alfred Mccoy, professor of history at Australia's University of New South Wales, heard about a cache of missing documents detailing guerilla activities in the Philippines in World War II. Mccoy was a Yale doctoral candidate doing research on the anti-Japanese resistance efforts. What started him off was the tip given to him by the late General Macario Peralta who was dying of cancer at that time. In his death bed the general told him to recover the missing war records that would reveal everything that there was to know about the guerilla movement in the Philippines.
Mccoy’s research took him to the National Archives in Washington DC where he was able to unearth records which debunked the claimed war exploits of Ferdinand Marcos.
McCoy's account of his discovery was at first rejected by several major newspapers, but after seeing the documents, the New York Times finally published the news.
Earlier on a Major Harry McKenzie initiated the investigation into Maharlika in 1945. Captain Elbert Curtis, upon review said that there was no mention of Maharlika as an intelligence source and concluded that the unit roster was a fabrication and. “a malicious criminal act.” The Army issued a final ruling against Maharlika in 1948.
The US Veterans’ administration together with the Philippine Army conducted a separate investigation in 1950. They found out was that “Maharlika” was engaged in all sorts disreputable activities including contraband trade with the enemy.
The AFP could have picked a better time to enshrine the portrait of Ferdinand Marcos in the Heroes Hall. They are still smarting from the wounds of the big time corruption charges that have stayed in the headlines for months now. Heroes are honored and edified so that they can be emulated. With Marcos’ inclusion in the Hall of Heroes I can't help but get the impression that the Armed Forces still look up to the Apo as someone worthy of emulation; contributing to the image that they are nothing but a band of robber barons. This event further exacerbates the tarnished image that the AFP is trying to correct. It's either utter brazenness or just plain shoddy piece of PR work.
These historical facts would have faded in time but because of recent efforts to perpetuate an historical aberration the dirty past is exhumed and people are again reminded of the misdeeds of a nefarious regime.