Friday, March 6, 2009


BUY LOCAL: From the just launched men's line by one of Manila's popular
names, Aavel Bacudio, who is presenting a collection at Fashion Watch this April

A mole in Martin Margiela (ay no--KnCo pala for this entry!) told me that Cito Beltran either had a program or did a story on ‘buying local’ which was generally well received. Every country, particularly developed countries with active financial centers, is affected by this recession and for almost all, the solution is to generate domestic business. America has its protectionist ‘Buy American.” What’s there to buy? Cars? The California Dream? (now shattered and bankrupt) American Apparel—made in downtown LA! China is putting its people to work on public infrastructure probably to avoid unrest in the countryside. Indonesia also wants to generate local business and is even nationally promoting local fashion through Batik Fridays but it also wants to ‘export labor.” (read: maids and construction workers…Juice ko…Allah on a bike!)

It may be too late (but better late than never) to try to generate local business now that the going is tough. This should have been done way before any of this happened. Like maybe 20 years ago? Take the example of Taiwan, a country so dependent on tech exports that you could say they built the country online. From yesterday’s Herald Tribune: “The financial tsunami makes it possible to rethink our economic development strategy, as to whether we should rely so much on exports,” President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan said in an interview in Taipei.”When….We think we should attach more emphasis on domestic demand instead of putting all our eggs in one basket.”

President Ma can say this because despite its economy being largely export oriented, Taiwan has a relatively strong domestic economy. Probably because it has ‘no friends’ and China was always a threat, the country made sure that first, it fed its people. Taiwan produces a lot of its own produce that even international gourmet chefs sing praises for local poultry, fish and vegetables. Even a food ignoramus like me noticed that the local produce I ate in Taiwan was so much fresher than what I eat in Hong Kong which is all imported. (Hong Kong physically does not have enough land to grow crops unless it’s done in small farms in Sai Kung and then the harvest can only feed a family of four minus the dog)

Second, like Korea and Japan, Taiwan educated their people to the highest levels. Okay—everything is in Chinese but who needs English these days especially if you have a poor command of it like the Philippines? Teachers get not only respect but a high salary. The local publishing business is booming not only for magazines and newspapers but also books. As a former publisher, there is no place I feel more inadequate than in Korea, Taiwan or Japan. If you think they only read their work, read the fine print. Bookstores are open all night and are stocked with every conceivable novel translated into Chinese.

Whenever I talk to Taiwanese about their country and my country, they always ask the same thing, “Taiwan used to admire the Philippines so much. Our goal was to be like the Philippines. What happened?”

I can tell you what happened. We can see it in our local fashion industry and in domestic retail.

We lost our national pride--lost it by being blinded by the glitz of Hollywood yet not being remotely close to Brian Grazer’s parking space, lost it by thinking Manila was Manhattan but it was more like Hell’s Kitchen. We lost our way because we thought everyone else was better. Everyone else means those who are American or ‘white.’
(When we used to live in the Philippines, I would ask my husband who is white, to call the waiters because then we would get REAL service. That does not work in Hong Kong or Japan. National pride)

Little did we know we had so much going for us (talent and natural resources) which we ended up giving away. We can no longer blame the Marcoses. In the last 40 years, so much opportunity has been lost. Little by little, our then poorer neighbors (Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore) caught up with us and ended up beating us to the finish line.


fuchsiaboy said...

I don't know what to say. Your entry just explained to me something I tried to explain to my white friends why they think most Filipinos are so 'Americanized'.

collinfongjr said...

Well you know naman the Filipino's really like to be westerners but they can't. They look like clowns . Like Doña Victorina of Noli me tangere and El Filibusterismo. By the way Ms. Kitty when are you going to relese your new Book title Chic Loaded

Twilight Zone said...

sigh, naku tama ka dyan madam Kits nakakalungkot man pero totoo.