Some thoughts on our industrialization

By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas

“As a friend once said, how can we industrialize if we cannot even make a reliable and commercially viable screw driver? ”

Last Sunday was my rest day. A much needed physical exercise to sweat out accumulated toxins and stress should have been readily undertaken but I just felt lousy. Right after lunch, I had to force myself. To aid in the process, I nuked myself with coffee. In no time after the caffeine kicked in, I was in the yard getting ready to fix parts of a car causing bad sounds whenever braking downhill. I thought I knew what was causing it. So I jacked the car up dismantled the suspension system so I could take out the caster ball joint, the main suspect, and the two big rubber bushings beside it at the end of the brake strut. I had the caster ball joint but did not have the rubber bushings. So work was suspended as I had to order these from Manila. It was stupid. Here’s why.
The bushings were nothing but rubber encased by two tubes, inside and outside. Why can’t we make these? Nothing was complicated about it. It became even more stupid when I recalled a magazine article I have read a long time ago about making (by DIY—doing it yourself) rubber items. I don’t remember whether the mag was published in the USA or in the UK. The important thing was the writer was to make engine supports which were nothing but rubber glued to metal plates with bolts on top of the rubber and under the metal plates.
The guy made a molds and then went to buy “raw” rubber from a nearby hardware, melted it by heat, poured it to the molds and, presto!, he had the engine supports. Why did I not do that? Because you cannot buy rubber here that you can remanufacture or process into different items.
Similarly, we don’t have in this country an integrated steel industry from which manufacturers can buy the raw material to come up with products needed by various industrial outfits. With this deficiency, our beloved country will always remain agricultural, in other words, backward.
As a friend once said, how can we industrialize if we cannot even make a reliable and commercially viable screw driver? The screw drivers we buy are either made in Taiwan or China.
The steel products we can buy around are recycled from waste like the bolo, the hoe, the rake we buy at Hilltop, Baguio City. These were hammered into shape after heating steel from the springs of vehicles.
The same with steel products being peddled around by those from Batangas, the most popular of which is the world famous fan knife—the balisong. The peddler would challenge you that the good ones could pierce a one-peso coin. These are supposed to have been made from the bearings of machines or vehicles. Why can’t the government support the makers of these to mass produce and export their products?
Similar is the case of the makers of Danao guns. I heard that these look beautiful but as to performance, that is another story. Due to the poor quality of the metal used as raw material, the guns can literally blow in your face.
Again why can’t the government support these creative makers of guns to come up with legit ones that can compete with the best from Russia, Israel or other developed countries. As things are, the gun making industry in Danao is a backyard industry which will remain so until the government comes up with a paradigm shift regarding creative Filipinos who can come up with something out of trash or out of nothing.
In the agricultural sector, the biggest supplier of Durian around the world now is Thailand. But this is one for the books. Filipinos were supposed to be the only users and makers of bagoong (rotten fish to some) but I recently read somewhere that he biggest supplier of bagoong to Filipino grocery stores abroad are the Thais.
So while our economy is agricultural, our agriculture sector is in the bottom of the heap compared to our neighbors.
Looking back, in Asia, the Philippines was only second to Japan in the mid 60s when it came to the economy and in general modernity. Now, second from the bottom? Perhaps.
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