As I am in the middle of organizing my files after reformatting my laptop, I found this essay I wrote for KASPIL2 (Kasaysayan ng Pilipinas, or in English, History of the Philippines) when I was an undergraduate student in college. I scanned through it and thought despite that it was written on November 29, 2008, the topic is still quite relevant to date. So here I’m sharing it to the public:


It seems that the continuing economic tragedy of the Philippines has long been scripted, similar to an actor’s script in a setting. One of the major causes of the country’s economic haywire is the death of our basic industries which were allowed by previous government administrations to expire like the dinosaurs decades back.

Naysayers say that it’s too late for the Philippines to be industrially self-sufficient with the large amount of debt the country owes to the World Bank. But with a positive mind and a good set of leaders who have a good vision, who can rule the country and utilize its remaining “diamonds,” invest in them and dig them out of the mud, we can remain to be hopeful citizens striving for economic growth and stability. And nationalism can just be the answer.

According to Alejandro Lichauco, the reason why some countries excel and became wealthy is because of nationalism. Before anything else, what is nationalism?

Nationalism Defined

Nationalism, the foundation of one’s citizenship, can be traced down to the sense of patriotism, belonging and loyalty. It could manifest one’s actions, beliefs and values that form a collective behavior. These characteristics could build a foundation and identification of a certain citizenry.

Patronizing our own products is one of the real essences of being a nationalist. But in these modern times, Juan de la Cruz is facing neocolonialism, supporting and using products of foreign countries all over.

Through the years, the Philippines has been accustomed to depend on other powerful states like the United States of America and neighboring countries for goods/products consumption. In the same breath, the Filipinos have always embraced the technology brought by the Western world and other progressing Asian nations. For instance, we cannot even produce a decent hammer or a simple machine like the needle. Instead, we need to import these small things from China. Looking at the big picture, the main root of the country’s dependency to the Western countries and other Asian countries is free trade.

From Free Trade, Anti-Industrialization, to Growing Debts

As an agricultural state less dependent on industry, the Philippines exports raw materials to foreign countries. In exchange, from these materials, foreign countries which are heavily industrialized, manufacture goods and trade them back to the Philippines with no tariff (free trade). Imported products then penetrate the local market, and “non-nationalistic” Filipinos openly give in to foreign goods’ good quality and cheaper costs. Our poor country local market, hence, suffers.

Given this scenario, the Philippines should limit the import of foreign products in order to protect its national economy—or better yet, should produce/manufacture its own products and industrialize.

But industrialization seems to be not included in the vocabulary of most Philippine government officials from the past. Throughout history, every time a patriotic economic policy supposed to boost both our industrial and rural development would be launched, our national leaders agree to foreign demands to dilute the policy with measures to weaken and finally destroy the idea of industrialization. Mostly attended by corruption, they would rather let the Philippine industries die.

In addition, unfortunately for the Philippines and a lot of other similarly situated poor countries and former colonies, we have very little “comparative advantage” as the country was not allowed to develop products and industrialize by colonizers. As a result, we ended up being completely sold on the free market and the global free trade.

Tracing History (as discussed in class)

In 1945 to 1946, when the country was going to become independent from the USA and needed aid to rebuild our country from the devastation of the World War II, America’s officials made war damage payments conditional. This implied that the Philippine Republic first had to agree that we would continue the colonial terms of free trade. In order to receive their assistance, our industries were slowly put down and slowly until we became mere packagers for the US principals.

In the 50s to the 60s, the Philippines finally had a policy to develop import-substitution industrialization which helped improve the country’s growth. The Philippines then became second to Japan. But in the second decade of the import-substitution industrial policy, President Macapagal needed to borrow 300 million dollars from the International Monetary Fund because we had large foreign debts.

We had debts partly because of our industrialization: machinery and machine parts imports, oil, some raw materials from the USA and other countries. We would not have to import so much if we had developed our steel industry and machine-making skills and capabilities. After all, we were one of the world’s largest suppliers of iron, copper and nickel among others.

Another reason for the foreign debts was the Filipino upper classes loved importing foreign luxury products. The locally-made soaps and mirrors were not good enough for them.

At that time, the IMF would only give President Macapagal the 300 million dollars loan if he devalued the peso from P2=$1—to P3.50=$1. Because he was made to believe that the Philippines would make more money by selling more of our cheaper exports, and the result was a big mess.

Since then, the mess had stayed with us. From then on, the Philippines had to be paying more for the country’s machinery and raw material imports. But in return, the country got less money for cheaper raw-material and mining exports to the USA, Japan and other rich countries. The promise that we would earn more by devaluing the peso did not happen.

Macapagal, to solve the problem, took a step that made our economic policies more irrational, incoherent, desperate, confused and self-destructive: he imposed currency controls.

When the Philippines moved to a policy of export-oriented industrialization and then labor-intensive export industrialization, we continued to face external debt problems. Then, every time we had to be rescued by the IMF, more and more of our industries died because we implemented more and more of the measures demanded from us that sapped our strength and our wealth.

Meanwhile, the other countries in our region became richer—with their governments adopting the correct economic policies that stressed manufacturing for export and increasing their farming sector productivity. Their masses of poor people became a little bit more prosperous year by year than their Filipino counterparts.

It is just wrong for our economic policy-makers to take the liberalization and anti-patriotic economic ideology more seriously than the USA. Even the USA protects its industries, but we also should nurture our own.

Our policy up to now is to be open and liberal even to those countries that do not match our generosity. Our tariff regime for the whole world is the same as the generous one that we have our fellow ASEAN members. ASEAN is building a common market and hoping to form an economic union, so it’s normal and okay to have a generous tariff policy amongst ourselves within other ASEAN members. But why grant those same concessions to everybody—even to those who don’t give us reciprocal considerations? The answer is that we are always desperately in need of pleasing the whole world in hopes of getting something in return—that we never get.

Following Others’ Footsteps

Francois Quesnay, a French economist of the Physiocratic school, believes that agriculture is the main source of nation’s wealth and therefore must be prioritized. In addition, the physiocrats believed that the abundance and progress of one’s state comes from the land. The Philippines is rich in natural resources as much as agricultural lands. Then again, it is not yet the end for Filipinos to embrace the world of industrialization.

Take for instance Japan which embraced the industry than agriculture. Japan followed the mercantilism philosophy wherein it protected the local market from the abusive foreign investors and made a rule to import little and at the same time to export as much as possible. This is how Japan made itself an industrialized country and now one of the richest nations in the world which belongs to the Group of Eight elite states.

Another is Germany, one of European countries that was an agrarian state before. This nation was transformed from an agricultural into industrialized state with the help of Friedrich List and Otto van Bismarck who provided the mercantilism principle and applied the Nationalist Economics respectively.

If Only’s

If the Philippines would only follow the footsteps of Japan like what Taiwan and South Korea did when they adhered to the mercantilism principle, we would not be facing much economic instability in the present. These nations made the world astonished on their economic performance. Taiwan and South Korea are the “New Japans” of the world today. They were able to succeed even though they were really lacking on natural resources. In these present times, they can produce their own engines, machines and build up a steel industry.

Also, if Filipinos would only continue to appreciate and follow the late President Carlos P. Garcia’s “Filipino First Policy” until this time, the country would be competent enough and able to produce its own technologies. In Garcia’s time, Filipinos patronized the local markets and even attempted to build up a steel industry and other business enterprises which were the joint project of the government and the Jacinto Steel Incorporated. If all the presidents of the Philippines would be like Carlos P. Garcia, then all have a sense of nationalism.


Filipinos should put aside our bickering and differences caused by destructive foreign manipulation, foster national solidarity, make sacrifices, be bold, and be kind to one another, resolutely and vigorously move as one people, and most importantly, love our country, to build a strong and sovereign nation founded on a strong industrialized national economy.

To conclude, following Lichauco’s principles and masterpiece of nationalistic thoughts, nationalism (powered by industrialization) is the alternative solution that can ultimately and satisfactorily solve the present centuries-old social, political and economic problems rooted in our abused colonial past, save our country, and attain national greatness the Filipino people deserve.


Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

Related Posts

39 Responses

  1. Nice

    nationalism is what truly need. if has been established together with a government’s support, this country will surely succeed!

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Nationalism should be encouraged as a system of belief. We, being a democratic nation, are self-critical and that may be a tribute to the our country’s greatness but it does not call for lesser (or no) nationalism. And like everything else in the Philippines, the choice of being a nationalist is just that. A choice.

  2. RonLeyba

    Nationalism can really uplift the economy of any country. Look at China, I mean, they are all patronizing their own and country’s product and creations right, which for me is an act of nationalism. It made their country rich in economy.

  3. jane

    agree that maybe philippines should lessen importing foriegn goods so our fellow filipinos actually crave and buy our own products which everyone knows that its more cheaper. xx

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Some people have the notion that local products here are bad but it’s not entirely true. Our products are even being exported to other countries and this only means that the quality is just great. The only problem is that there’s not enough marketing and the prices may be more expensive.

  4. Franc Ramon

    I think the Philippines is veering to be more adept in the service industry like call center and health care from an industrialized one. It should be ok as we continue ti sharpen our skill and remain focused in nation building.

  5. Tess

    Filipino’s are Nationalistic by heart but not Patriotic or we value imported stuff instead of the locally made. Blame it on many factors. I hope there is still hope in our countries economy.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Ah, now we can relate nationalism and the economy. In a book called The Spirit of Capitalism, “nation” is defined as a concept that serves to structure thought: “Nationalism is a form of social consciousness, a… cognitive and moral organization of reality.” Hence I can say that national thinking makes economic growth possible by investing the latter with positive values.

  6. Francis Balgos

    This is great insight, with a simple straight forward writing..
    No innuendos and segues! just rightly written.
    I have to agree, its still applies to this day.

    you gave me an idea of checking my old term papers and all that feature articles.
    Too bad for me though, I left it all in the boarding house I stayed after I graduated.
    I was then too eager to start my life.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks, Francis. Looking back to what you have written is a nice experience. You should dig into those past writings and share it to the online world. 😀 You never know who will be inspired and what good actions might come out of it.

  7. jsncruz

    Great article, but I disagree with the idea that nationalism is ‘the answer’. I think patriotism and selflessness would do us better – hard to achieve, definitely.

    ‘Nationalistic’ countries don’t tend to be peaceful; they become almost (or sometimes are) xenophobic. The idea is so easy to exploit that a hard-line leader can really twist the white-knight version of nationalism into something self-serving.
    Selflessness, on the other hand, is something we need several generations more to even think of achieving. Case in point, the lines at train stations. Bow.

  8. Orly Ballesteros

    We live in a global world and yes we need nationalism but it must be tempered because the nation-state as we know it is dead. In fact, by 2015 ASEAN will be integrated into a one country. Preserve the identity yes but find our niche in the global economy so we can uplift the country.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Nice thoughts there, Orly. Across the globe, trends of nationalization and economic nationalism have crept into the policies of nation-states recently. As a theory to counteract the perceived injustices and insecurities caused by globalization, economic nationalism has emerged as a popular and powerful theory that is supported by wide and diverse constituencies looking to preserve their cultural heritage and expand their state’s international power.

  9. Earl Pablo

    It’s an advantage to keep good records. Your work is exceptional. That essay was well-written. But I am not sure who among our key leaders possess such attribute?

  10. Mark Morfe

    Its a good thing you were still able to keep that essay of yours and despite its a lengthy one, I was able to browse and understand its contents.

  11. ralph

    filipinos produce the best products in the world… but we just failed to recognize them… and we even choose to use things made by other countries just because their brands are known. i guess, we need to change our perceptions. Yahweh bless.

  12. papaleng

    Not even Nationalism can put back our country to where it stood 50 years ago. I believer it is the political will of our President to lessen if not totally eradicate graft and corruption in our country. Our status in the global community has to improve. But I also, admit if we continue to patronize our local products then we can have national identity.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks, Nanardx. 🙂 Nationalism is a good thing, when it’s done right. It requires a special amount (not too much) pride, but most importantly it requires our vigilance, and respect for others.

  13. Sumi Go

    This is indeed a great article and I’m just glad you decided to share it with us 🙂 I have to agree that nationalism will definitely help improve our society, but I have somehow lost the optimism for this.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Awww.. With the events happening around, it’s worthy to note that Filipinos want to join together to fight against any threats that might befall the country and society. In this sense, nationalism is still present and it makes the country get over these incidents more easily and afterwards, makes the country stronger.

  14. Jo-ann

    I think corruption is the reason why our country is still developing. The government funds are enough to sustain the needs of the people.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      There’s a lot of talk about those funds now. Anyway, I hope that people here still will continue to support and love the nation as supporting nationalism is for the betterment of countries around the world, and in turn, the whole world prospers.

  15. Teresa Martinez

    To be quite truthful, I am sometimes engulfed by so much hopelessness in the real state of our nation which will always be different from that presented by any state of the nation address of our presidents which are usually dressed up for show. Then I remember and catch myself from such despair since everyone of us can still do something to make our nation progressive. That starts at home where we can teach our children more practical things like buying our local products and discovering our own culture so that they can promote it with pride and dignity.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      That’s true. Also, why nationalism is strong enough to hold countries and communities of people together for certain purposes. Pride in their own country motivates people to work harder in society. They want to further their own countries and by working harder they do just that.

  16. Alwin

    some still say we’re miles apart from our neighboring countries and the other industrialized nations of the world. but that’s no longer the case now. been doing freelance content writing for a business in Australia where I’m tasked to write about businesses that are liquidating or going bankrupt. As I do my research, I have read several publications highlighting the progress of the Philippines. On the other hand, a lot of the European countries are having financial difficulties, and even Japan’s electronics industry is doing some form of restructuring to avoid becoming bankrupt altogether.

    Naturally, the progress is not easily felt by the masses but I’m confident that if our country remains on the right path, everything will fall into place

  17. Ness

    Nationalism… i honestly dont know who among us knows this by heart? but actually, we can just be care less on this. Whatever or however it is, it is still us who can decide if we wanna take this by heart.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      For the most part, countries with higher nationalism have more prosperous economies and are overall, wealthier. People want to earn more money and they want to prosper for the good of the country because of nationalism. Also, countries with higher nationalism have less corruption in banks and other such things.

  18. John

    Good essay, are you from DLSU? Because I am currently taking KASPIL2 course and it’s very interesting. I sure hope that incumbent leaders would think about implementing economic policies for the benefit of the country and heavy industrialization.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Hi John! I graduated from DLSU in 2009. 🙂 Our professor back then made History class sound more interesting. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment!

  19. Prof. Ped Salvador

    Economic Nationalism must start with nationalizing all, yes all basic industries, that includes power, telecom, water, and food. The main reason we cannot maximize industrialization is that production cost to generate per unit product is less competitive with other countries that used economy of scale and superior technologies.

    We cannot also discount the fact that we should be open to technologies that warrant efficiency and productivity in our economic activities. We must explore to be better in our neighboring countries to cope and then stay ahead in this aspect.

    Total quality management in people, methods, materials, machines and the genuine attitude of continuous improvement would make Filipino products more superlative than emerging competitors. Customers would always buy and becomes a regular patron of products with acceptable price, quality, and reliability.

    Commercializing new Filipino inventions and innovations, enough promotions that meet expectations of Philippine industries would spearhead adoption and adaptation. It is very ironic that other countries are just importing skilled and bright Filipinos to make their economy fully developed.

    Our focus then is not only on self-monetary enrichment but also directly all towards efficiency and productivity in all aspects of our political, economic, financial, social, technological, and environmental activities to make this country more viable in the next generation.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.