A hub in global networks

Published March 17, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao
Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao

By Jesus P. Estanislao


In positioning ourselves globally, taking due note of our comparative strengths, we should be clear in our minds what we should develop our country to be, within the next two or even three generations. We need to think way beyond the political debates and controversial issues of today: we should not just focus on the Constitutional changes that are being currently discussed: and we should not limit our time horizon to the next national elections, either in 2019 or 2022 (and whether or not they would take place). All these are just around the corner, so to speak. Moreover, they are mere means towards the long-term strategic position we would like our country to have within the mainstream of global networks. We should put more of our smart money on our strategic end as a country!

Perhaps, this is where we can look back at our very distant past. Long before the Pacific Ocean became a major, super-busy nautical route between Asia and the Americas, Manila was the main entrepot that connected China with the Americas. We may have heard of the Galleon trade, and the Manila-Acapulco sea-route. This went on for slightly more than 2 centuries: and for a great part of that time, Manila served as the main entrepot, a hub, which connected China (Asia) and Mexico (America).

Since then for various historical reasons, we have become a backwater. The positioning as hubs shifted to Hong Kong and Singapore, and indeed elsewhere in Asia. We lost our position.

But in the next several decades, the stars seem to be pointing to the possibility of our being able to regain our status as a hub in global networks.

Paulo Cobankiat makes the following observations:

  • We are fast becoming an “important part of many multinationals’ operations because of the characteristics of the Philippine workforce”. This is increasingly true, and we would be smart to pursue this as a strategic priority.
  • We are beginning to serve as a “hub of knowledge sharing and transfer because many global operations (e.g. business process outsourcing) have taken up quarters in several of our cities such as Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao”, among others.
  • This global positioning creates spill-over and “trickle-down effects across socio-economic classes”.
  • The presence of multi-national corporations here enables “Filipinos to rotate abroad (typically one to five-year assignments elsewhere) and bring that knowledge back”.

These observations may be only partly valid today. But they can be made more valid and take on even more substance in the years and decades ahead, if we have this vision of making the Philippines again as a hub for global inter-connections.

Moreover, the field for global inter-connectedness has become wider and more competitive. We therefore have to be disciplined in our observance of strategy formulation and execution. We need to think of our long-term: we also have to consider the country as a whole: and we have to place our long-term future within a global context that is ever in need of closer inter-connection and greater inter-dependence.

Thus, our vision should be for the Philippines to regain our status as an important hub in a more globalized world.