These changing times By TONY KATIGBAK

Posted on June 27, 2012

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As one of the major wire service providers reported last week, “Australia has become the first country in the world with all of its flagship newspapers behind an Internet paywall and has prompted declarations that the ‘golden age of newspapers is dead’. That dire prediction, grim as it may seem, appears to be just around the corner, and nearer than we think. As one who has been a reporter in The Canberra Times, one of the wellknown Fairfield publications in Australia, for a couple of years, I found that prediction interesting and probably true in many ways. Though newspapers have been a staple in life for hundreds of years, a new age is also dawning — the age of electronic media, Internet, Facebook, e-mail. Now news is available at the click of a button. And to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape, we have to find ways to adjust and make a place for ourselves in the electronic world. The younger generation is now reading the newspaper online and on their iPads. Luckily, we have learned to change with the times and through this evolution I think we can find a way to keep the sad prediction of the death of newspapers from coming true. Things change, but it’s just a matter of changing with them. To me, there is still nothing better than going through the newspaper in its paper form in my own hands, but now while I do that, my daughter flips through the same newspaper on her tablet. Both of us are happy. And while I may not understand the whole electronic aspect of it, we have to keep up with the times and evolve as the world is evolving, or we will be left behind. The future is here and we must adjust ourselves accordingly or be thrown in the dustbin of life.

If the Philippines wants to join the rest of the Third World countries in this growing economic footrace, then we must make use of our God-given natural resources in a responsible manner. Our country has been left behind compared to several of its neighbors in Southeast Asia. Now we are second to last, at the bottom of the list, and might soon be overtaken by Burma (Myanmar), which is just now opening its borders. Aung San Suu Kyi has become a daily figure in media all over the world and this is just the beginning. The country is slowly realizing that it cannot live in isolation from the rest of the world. Why this is happening now is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the military has come to realize how far behind their neighbors the country has fallen economically. Maybe they are beginning to fear their heavy dependence on China. They may have concluded that there is nowhere left for them to lead the nation up a dead end economic street. Whatever the case may be, the country wants broader international acceptance and an end to Western sanctions. A move towards democracy could finally unlock that door. And once it is open, there is much they can achieve. Perhaps they have come to realize that no man is an island indeed. In fact, Cuba and North Korea are now the only countries in the world still living with closed societies. In time, hopefully within my lifetime, I can see these two nations embracing democracy.

In the Philippines, we have strict rules and regulations concerning our vast natural resources. We were among the first ones to craft the ‘Philippine Mining Act of 1995’ with the cooperation of the Bureau of Mines, Chamber of Mines and the rest of the business community. In my opinion, it was the best law governing the exploration, development, and rehabilitation of our mineral resources. Since we have so much interest in our natural resources, it is important to govern them properly and utilize them without exploitation.

Up to this day, 17 years later, in my mind it remains the most practical and sensible way for the development of our mineral resources. Despite the mounting opposition to the mining law by some of our politicians and indigenous people, I still believe it is one of the best options we have to develop as a nation. The Philippines is one of the countries in the world with vast resources. It is a shame we don’t use our mineral wealth for the benefit of our people. We may be a democratic and open society but there are still many things we do that lead to us figuratively shooting ourselves in the foot. Hopefully, for the sake of economic growth, we can adapt to these changes.

Reports over the weekend of a Chinese ship ‘accidentally’ ramming a Filipino boat killing one person and wounding four others, makes one shiver. It comes at a time when relations between our two countries is deteriorating, any untoward incident can set us both off. However, our government is being quite guarded with its reactions to this incident. This caution is a good move as we are not still 100 percent sure as to what really happened. While a thorough investigation is being conducted, it’s best to keep thoughts of openly blaming China at bay. Time will tell whether or not this was an isolated incident and indeed an accident. Either way, once it is determined who was responsible for this event, they will be brought to justice. Reports have already started coming in that the “hit and run” was actually done by a Hong Kong registered vessel that was in the Pangasinan area at the same time. While it is an eerie coincidence, it is also possible that was truly a bad accident.

However, even if that is the case, it is still like a deadly catalyst to tense political relations. Many see it as a “message” from the Chinese that we need to leave the area that they see as “their territory.” Our ships have already left the Scarborough Shoal due to bad weather, a reason many see as merely an excuse. Most people see it as a retreat and maybe a realization that we are in a fight we can not win even with the US coming to aid (if ever they actually do). As I mentioned in my column last week, China has overtaken Japan as the most advanced nation in the world after the US and they have the might and the muscle to go with it. Though more gung-ho advocates believe we should stand toeto-toe with this Goliath, it is truly much wiser to talk with the Chinese at the negotiating table however frustrating that may get. We may succeed more in this arena than trying to physically drive them away by resorting to armed measures.

On the plus side to bad news there is good news as well. The tribute we have received from the World Bank for being the sixth country in the world to treat men and women equally is indeed heartening. Sadly, there are other countries that still cling to the belief that women are inferior human beings and treat them like dogs. Perhaps they are just holding on to a societal belief that has been the norm for generations. But that is not a good excuse for violating women’s rights to this day and age. As I mentioned before, things are always changing and sometimes what worked in the dark ages are no longer applicable today. I consider women more intelligent and mature than most men I know. Many of my colleagues and other friends may not share my opinion, but in the end we are all people and we all have our own unique contributions to make to society. It’s good to know that in the Philippines, women are being given their equal share.

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