Is there Hope for a “Culture of Excellence” in the Philippines?

If you want to excel in a particular field, you should perform and possess the talent or quality which is unusually good and so surpasses ordinary standards.

For our Nation still has a long way to go, so as to achieve higher goals, some of these are: Education, Food Production, Poverty Alleviation, Economic WellBeing , Improving the Quality of Life, Delivery of basic Social Services, and a Civil Society that supports Welfare needs of the marginalized, elderly, Persons with Disabilities and the Common Good.

“We have not been famous for unity, resulting in aborted take-offs and a crawling snail’s pace development. Democracy and development are two faces of the same coin: that of genuine, authentic progress which must be by people, for people and of people. Progress can be pursued only by people willing and able to work hard. Efficient and effective work, sustained and systematic work, competent and quality work should be the only substantive bases for success. Work, however, has to be complemented by a deep commitment to the broader common good. We cannot work for ourselves alone. We to take into account the wider interests of the community where we live and of the country whose development we must serve.” Dr.  Jesus P.  Estanislao in his book entitled “Towards a National Culture of Excellence Book II”.

Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao, my professor at the Center for Research and Commisison, now University of Asia and the Pacific, who encouraged me to always seek and strive for perfection in professional work. I recall that he told me to be an “institutional builder”, this was what encouraged me to conceptualize and organize what is now Cuervo Appraisers, Inc. a leading institution in the real estate appraisal industry. This was my Masteral thesis in Economic Research (MER).

The thesis was the corporate plan with a 20 year projection for Cuervo Appraisers, Inc. The corporate study included the initial stage in (1979), incorporation (1980), and its vision and mission to be the leading appraisal company in the Philippines putting into practice, excellence in service, with a deep sense of value and worth. The success of this appraisal institution is a concrete proof by applying the principles, ideals, and teachings set forth by my economic professor, Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao.

Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao Chairman, Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao FICD, has been named as the recipient of the 2013Hernando De Soto Award for Democracy.  The award was presented to Dr. Estanislao on April 9, 2013 as part of Democracy that Delivers for Entrepreneurs, an international conference on building strong and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems to be held in Chicago. source:

Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao
Chairman, Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao FICD, has been named as the recipient of the 2013Hernando De Soto Award for Democracy. The award was presented to Dr. Estanislao on April 9, 2013 as part of Democracy that Delivers for Entrepreneurs, an international conference on building strong and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems to be held in Chicago.

We must have the element of responsibility in doing good, jobs well done, and finish to the last detail that is with perfection or excellence. The principle “stick to the knitting” simply says that once you have started a job, you should finish it and when you say “finish it” it should always be done well,  in an outstanding manner. We should not be satisfied with “pwede na”.

Saint Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, in his Homily on Work, teaches us that we need to strive for perfection and professional prestige, for the Glory of GOD , and to Serve Others and Society in the best way we can. In his book “Friends of God Homilies by Josemaria Escriva”, said, “Many people begin, but few finish. And we, who we are trying to behave as God’s children, have to be among those few. Remember that only work is well done and lovingly completed deserves the praise of the Lord which is to be found in Holy Scripture. ‘beter is the end of a task than its beginning’.”

This way we can contribute to the Development of the Nation, Uplift the Quality of Life, so that Man’s Spiritual growth towards being better persons, more productive professionals that contribute to the growth and development of the nation.

For instance, there are some of the projects of the government which has been started but was not finished like the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant completed but never fuelled, Peninsula Cetenial project of former President Ramos, our Airport projects, the  NAIA saga, the proposed and much needed Circumferential road, the Manila-Cavite-Batangas  Coastal road , which remains unfinished, and last but not the least, the abandoned , Antipolo- Infanta Quezon Infrastructure Highways.

The reason behind this is in my opinion, political. It has been observed, that when a new administration is in power, the President and the New Cabinet ,puts on hold the predecessors pending Projects. The new government will find legal ways to stop the on going project.

At times, an “investigation” is made by the Senate or Congress, delaying ongoing urgent infrastructure projects. Some politicians have their own personal agenda as to how to financially benefit from government projects. An example is that they find ways to justify the change of contractors.

Using their authority, power, and control in government, some government agencies or the administration will find ways to use “Funding” or release of money, putting legal and technical roadblocks. The budget allocations such as DAP are stalled, delayed, left hanging or cancelled. This is how the administration in power strategizes on how to “kill” projects of the previous Administration.  Then there is the issue of finding ways how to “Cash in ” Election spending and expenses, to justify their corrupt practices.

As responsible citizens, we should seriously instill integrity, principled leadership and culture of excellence as personal, business and public sector. We can still regain the lost opportunities and feel anew that sense of pride that our elders felt decades back about our nation but only if we do our share and actively participate in nation-building.

Quoting from Rev. Father Cecilio L. Magsino from, in his analogy said “In a documentary films produced by National Geographic about air crashes will come to the conclusion that an airplane is such a delicate machine that even if the tiniest part of it break —say, a bolt in the engine—the whole plane can come down crashing. In one of its episodes, National Geographic reported that a plane crashed because one of the pilot tubes, which measure the air speed, was occluded and so it did not indicate to the pilot the correct speed. And the pilot tube is a very little thing.”

“We can think that to keep a plane flying safely requires adherence to the culture of excellence by all the people involved in flying and maintaining the plane. All those concerned must pay attention to the smallest things and do their job very well.”

“I would also like to think that the airline industry in our country can be a reflection of our culture in general. We are a people who tend to be satisfied with things that don’t work well or to make do with imperfections in systems or structures. Lamps may flicker, traffic lights may fail to turn on, faucets may get busted, roofs may leak, doors may be jammed, air conditioners may be noisy, walls may get dirty, queues may not be moving, trains and buses may be delayed. With all of these, the Filipino will just shrug his shoulder and smile—and life goes on.”

“There is something laudable about the resilience of the Filipino and his capacity for pain and suffering.” Shared Rev. Father Magsino. But I think it is a defect of character, such as complaisancy, mediocrity, and a lack of care for little things. If one does not pay attention to little things, or fails to do things well will only mean that one becomes irresponsible and oblivious about the needs of others and the common good.

“We ought to foster a culture of excellence. I think that if we acquire this culture, it’s not only our planes that will soar up in all the skies, it’s the Filipino himself who will,” Rev. Father Magsino said.

The bottom line here is that everything starts with the smallest thing, if we Filipinos do our part, especially for those who are working for the government, we will all have the culture of excellence that we are longing for.


Friends of God, Homilies by Josemaria Escriva

Towards a National Culture of Excellence Book II, Jesus P. Estanislao, PhD

This entry was posted in Economics, Finance, Philippine Government. Bookmark the permalink.

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