Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Best and Worst of Times

“It was the best and the worst of times…”- A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

Although a foreign quotation, it was nevertheless a very appropriate theme for the lecture that Prof. Leonor Magtolis-Briones gave about Manuel Roxas. This is in connection with the Presidential Lecture Series being conducted by Upsilon Sigma Phi in UPLB.

It was insightful in the sense that it put me into proper perspective about that note that Roxas’ administration was plagued by corruption. (I would not blame those online semi-encyclopedic articles on the net; it was my misinterpretation that gave rise to the idea that Roxas was doing something fishy during his term).

Prof. Briones was really authoritative, not just because of her age, but also because it was obvious that she knows a great deal about the things that Roxas did concerning financing in the country. (Heck, I forgot, she was a former national treasurer of the coun
try).

The talk was progressive as she started by discussing the situation prior to the Roxas’ administration and the reasons that made Roxas do those actions within his term (i.e. the devastated country after the WWII). It is pretty hard to enumerate those works particularly as I was deprived of the chance to take notes (man, the auditorium was packed and I had to endure the hardship of standing in the aisle!). Suffice it to say for now that although they may seem too radical today, his moves to improve the ‘financial state’ of the country were altogether appropriate. Her talk was made all the more interesting as she stated the fact that the fiscal crisis during Roxas’ time and today is essentially the same and thus a comparison of the actions by the two presidents is thus possible (she called one a ‘gwapong presidente’ which was obvious from the pictures being flashed on the big screen, and the other ‘the cute one’, or if I remember it right the ‘pa-cute’ one, which draw laughter from the crowd).

What she presented (semi)technically on the financial states of the country on these two different period in Philippine history is evident – that the present administration presents to the people only beautiful stories on how well they are performing with regards to our fiscal needs. Roxas did exactly the opposite; he reported in all of the transactions and financial details concerning the country at that time. What stuck into me was the detail that at that time, the country had only around forty billion pesos (I wish I have some notes to verify this) but they needed around more than 240 billion pesos. This he did not hide from the Filipinos and so went in revising the mode of taxation of the country to help with that problem (what Prof. Briones called “progressive taxation”).

(Obserbeysyons: One) In contrast with the past lecture series, this one particularly had a large crowd, obviously because of the prospect of seeing Mr. Palengke. Two) Chancy was curiously pensive during the whole event; he did not even bulged with those jokes Prof. Biones made. Three) I find it unusual for lovers to use a lecture a dating place. Tss. Whatever.)

Photo from: iisd.ca

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