Welcome 2021- the year of the ox

By Joel B. Belinan

“The Philippines may have a little higher wage standards but our big advantage is our skilled human resources with better English communication skills compared to our South East Asian neighbors. “

As we are now in 2021, let us still hope for the best. Yes, for without hope, how will we be able to prevail over this global pandemic? Despite all that has happened last year and will still be happening this year, let us hope that the farmers’ big best friend, the ox, will swat with its big horns Covid-19 and humanity will march ahead to progress.
While most of our government officials are again showing the alarmist attitude and are again trying to sow fear (using that alleged UK variant of the virus) in the minds of people, we still believe that things are going to get better. As we write this piece, this country already have direct flights from 20 countries which registered infections from the so called UK variant of the Covid-19 virus. If only that promptness of action was how fast they closed the country from China in January last year our country would have been in the league of Vietnam and Thailand on how they were able to avoid much of the things that this pandemic brought us.
On a personal note, I am hoping that our national officials will find the wisdom needed to lead this country out of this mess. Never mind that almost one year seems to have been lost but we really need to weather this crisis sooner than later if we are to start picking up the pieces of our lives shuttered since the middle of March last year. Since this pandemic started, my Korean friend Master Sung Am Cha has been regularly sending personal messages asking about whether foreigners are now allowed in the country. “Dear friend Joel, is there any good news from your end? When will your government allow us entry, I want to go there now?” This is the kind of messages that Master Cha had been sending me almost every day. Of course, my answer was always the same, that our national officials have yet to make up their minds, that they do not yet allow foreigners entry except those with long term visas.
Why is it very important that the regular international flights be allowed in our country? We’ll it’s not just for tourism but more for the benefit of the business sector. It should be noted that hundreds of thousands of businesses have been closed or gone bankrupt this year and the entry of much needed capital from foreign sources would be a big shot in the arm of the already downed economy. We are already behind our neighbors particularly Vietnam and Thailand in luring to our shores companies that left China due to this Covid-19 pandemic. Based on reports, thousands of companies mostly US, Japanese and Korean ones have left China due to the encouragement of their respective governments. One such company is Samsung which is now settled in Vietnam and already hired at least 150,000 workers and executives for its new production plants. Can you imagine what that means, to have 150,000 of our people enjoying stable jobs in this time of crisis? And that is just one company.
Allegedly the most attractive country for these companies is Vietnam due to its relatively low wage standards, economically peaceful business atmosphere, and its population is almost the same as ours. Next of course is Thailand which has an equally attractive economic prospect and followed by Indonesia which, however, like the Philippines, is still in the thick of things in its fight with the virus.
These three countries are basically almost the same as our country with perhaps the exception of Vietnam. But according to Nikei Business News, Vietnam is now getting saturated due to the sheer number of companies settling there. The Philippines may have a little higher wage standards but our big advantage is our skilled human resources with better English communication skills compared to our South East Asian neighbors. That advantage. However, has been rendered useless with the way our national government has been dragging its feet such that by the time we opened up all those companies looking for a place to transfer to have already gone somewhere else. And we are not even mentioning here that huge Indian sub-continent that can also be a big possible destination of the companies that left China. **

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