Jan 20, 2011

Economy-wise, where is the Philippines in the US map?

Dear Filipino,

How's the Philippine economy like compared to the US?


Dear Bulakbol,

In the field of information science, there is a hierarchical model, aptly but uncreatively called DIKW, which is depicted as a pyramid.  In this acronymally termed pyramid, data is found at the base, followed by information, then knowledge, and finally, at the apex, wisdom.

How do people in this academic field differentiate these concepts?

Practitioners generally define data as "discrete, objective, and unprocessed facts or observations."  As such, they are said to have no value whatsoever -- the data, not the practitioners -- because they lack context and interpretation.

Defined in terms of data, information is "organized or structured data" and therefore valuable and useful.

Defined in terms of information, knowledge is considered the "synthesis of multiple sources of information over time" which provides a "framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information."

While actually understood by many, the trickiest concept to define is wisdom because it does not lend itself to easy, formulaic definition.  Not that practitioners don't try.  But when defining it in terms of knowledge and information, they claim wisdom is "integrated knowledge" or, more sophomorically put, "information made super-useful."  Some of these academicians also turn philosophical on you and introduce another concept that's also difficult to define: Because wisdom, they say, requires the mental function we call "judgment." 

For its definitional simplicity, I like the version put forward in 1987 by Czechoslovakia-born educator Milan Zeleny.  For him, the DIKW model really equates to know-nothing, know-what, know-how, and know-why.

Now, where am I going with this preamble in answering your question?

I was reminded of these concepts for two reasons: (1) because The Filipina is involved in this field; and (2) because I stumbled upon the answer to your question while browsing the online version of The Economist.  I've always been a fan of the magazine because the folks there are really great at turning data into information and information into knowledge.

So let's proceed to your question. 

Found below is a US map.  Can you find the Philippines?

Source: The Economist

If you easily spotted the Philippines where the Bluegrass State is commonly found, I say, "Good for you -- keen eyes!" 

And if you were disappointed in finding it there, I say, "I'm sorry -- and I am with you." 

Because the map, which depicts the size of the economies of the individual American states and how they compare with other countries, tells us -- aside from the obvious fact that the US is really an economic colossus -- some unfortunate truths.  Among them:

One: The Philippines has an economy almost the same size as that of Kentucky despite having a population roughly 20 times bigger.

Two: The Philippines' next-door ASEAN neighbor, Thailand, has an economy equivalent to that of Colorado (which is a state bigger by about $100 billion than Kentucky), despite having roughly 30 million fewer people.

These are not happy facts to face, but face them we must -- that is, if we want the country to aspire to some objective, achievable targets.  Like becoming another Colorado, for instance, by the end of P-Noy's term. 

The country can do so because Thailand has already shown the way.  Filipinos, at home and from all over, just have to help, especially the Filipino Americans, who have a collective "GDP" also bigger than the Philippines.

This brings me back to the DIKW Hierarchy. 

Who would have thought that the singer-musician Frank Zappa would actually expand the model? 

Yes, he did, as shown in the lyrics of his song, "Packard Goose":
Information is not knowledge
Knowledge is not wisdom
Wisdom is not truth
Truth is not beauty
Beauty is not love
Love is not music
Music is THE BEST.
And this brings me to my concluding thoughts.

When I was in college, I was part of a group which performed a musical in front of audiences in the East Coast.  I've forgotten many of the details of that awesome period in my life, but I still cannot forget one memory.

After every performance, we would sing the song composed by Constancio de Guzman in 1929, Bayan Ko.  Without fail, many Filipinos in the audience would join and sing with us, and you could literally feel the emotions -- intense, raw, palpable, unstructured, tearful.  Unfortunately, I could tell many in the audience who didn't understand Tagalog could not quite grasp the significance of the song. 

So here's my parting gift to you to share with others as you feel necessary: The English version of the song as translated by the poet Ed Maranan. 

The beauty of his translation, which is incredibly faithful to the original language and its spirit, is that it can actually be sung following the same original melodic tune, the same music.  How cool is that?

Now, if Maranan's translation cannot be deemed wisdom, if it cannot be considered beauty, if it is not a manifestation of love of country, then I, for one, don't know the definition of these concepts anymore.

And pardon my preachiness, but for the Philippines to advance, you and I, and all the other Filipinos who care for even just one tiny bit about the country, really have to start showing it some love.

Got a question for The Filipino?  Email him now at askthepinoy@gmail.com.


Anonymous said...

Hi Filipino,
I agree with you that we need to show our nation some love.
The last line of our national anthem 'aming ligaya ng 'pag may nagaapi, ang mamatay ng dahil sa 'yo' - i think it's time we change our thinking a little, and instead of looking at ourselves as downtrodden and oppressed people, we should appreciate our nationhood and our people -
'at mabuhay ng para sa 'yo'
We should look at what we have, and love it and live it!

The Philippines is a blessed land!
We can't quantify it only in GNP or GDP, because truly what is the measure of the value of a people. It's true our productivity figures could be better, but over here, we don't charge for everything. Sunshine is free, in the countryside, people give away fruit that is spilling from the trees, friends listen to our sorrows (no psychiatric fees), we can go around with almost nothing on and sleep in 'All star' accomodations (under the sky) if its not raining.
Yes we can be more efficient and orderly, but what is the world always in a hurry for?
Westerners want to retire in a land like ours, they call it 'paradise'.
I am not blind to the shortcomings of city dwelling, or to the lack of opportunity for many - but actually we all can make a choice - because WE ARE FREE!
You can't say that about China, or many African or mideastern countries.
On the US map, of all the foreign groups, the Filipinos have the largest per capita earnings, next only to Jews. That's why 80% of our foreign remittances still come from there, even if we don't have millions of FilAms (unlike in mideast, we had around 2 million ofws)
The Filipinos are soooooo creative - at par with the best in the world when it comes to design, music, graphics, event production, etc. We just need marketing to advertise our national creativity.
Service is ingrained in our culture and that's why our managers and workers do well in any nation - bottomline, it the service that counts, and we do it from the heart, and in medical fields with much expertise and empathy.

I could go on and on, but I just want us to start thinking that we are successful!

We are successful at being Filipino! We aren't anybody else, so we can't be like them - but we should be happy to be us!


PS- Love that map, but I don't have space to put all my comments about it

Katrina said...

Following the previous comment's lead -

We can show our nation some love...

by being tourists in our own country.

Before we start spending our hard-earned money in Singapore to visit Sentosa, to Macau, to Hong Kong, etc.. let's visit our own Davao, Cebu, Ilocos, Mindoro, etc...Spend our own money inside our own soil.

I know, I know, our tourism industry sucks. But maybe when we ourselves start demanding more from our own government and from ourselves to improve, all else will follow.

I see a lot of Pinoys on facebook posting pictures of their escapades all over Asia, because plane fares have been more affordable and attractive travel packages. Tourism should start at home...

The Filipino said...

Thanks for your comment. I love your valediction: "Hahaha"! I gotta use that one of these days. You won't mind, right?

Touring the country first so money stays within is a great idea!

I'm reminded of an LSE grad student who studied corruption in Asia. He said there's bad corruption and there's really bad corruption. He explained thusly:

One difference between corruption in Korea and corruption in the Philippines is that corrupt Koreans spend their ill-gotten wealth within Korea. Corrupt Filipinos, on the other hand, wire their stolen funds right away to their US or Swiss accounts!

T.K. (Ask a Korean!) said...

That map is FASCINATING.

Anonymous said...

The biggest probblem I see in the islands is the dependence on others abroad for support. We need to encourage and demand our families to work hard at supporting themselves, finishing school, and becomming productive members of society, not keep throwing money at them to blow on frivilous things. Look at the state of the American wellfare system, and how many here have become dependent and no longer even attempt to move up in social ecconomic status. Then look at Korea, 60 years ago they were way behind where the islands are today. Why? They put their work boots on and suffered as needed to make their country great, pinoys, and pinays need to do the same. Stand up, and make a difference in your lives, and you will change the world for those around you.

A Filipinas' huby

filipino woman said...

I visited the Philippines last year and noticed that it's finally making progress compared to 10 years ago when I was there. Philippines is showing improvement but Filipinos may still find a way to derail the progress. Many talented and practical people with more coming to their senses and recognizing the real ills of the country but also many ignorant idiots or those simply bamboozled into dysfunction as the ravings of a previous poster here clearly illustrates.

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