Seed that is saved from one year’s harvest for the subsequent year’s planting, rather than being used to make flour etc.
Doesn’t make any sense for me to actually define “seed corn”? After all, most readers of this Philippine Living magazine will be familiar with the term, won’t they?
Such was the thought running through my mind as I started this article. Then, I thought a little longer and realized that even though I ran the risk of insulting the intelligence of some readers there still may be quite a few unclear on the concept. After all, to read the papers and watch the talking bobble-heads on TV you would think that America’s wealth seems to come mysteriously from Wall Street. Excuse me, but America’s wealth comes from the corn fields of Iowa and the wheat fields of Kansas and the feed lots of New Mexico to name just a few places.
Less than 2% of the US population feeds not only the other 98% but much of the world as well. It’s one thing for folks to be crying over the crash of their 401K plan, it’s quite another thing to be in the same boat and also starving.
Here in the Philippines the situation isn’t much different. While the Philippines, which used to feed much of Asia forgets where it’s true wealth is … in people and a lot of fertile farmlands … happy to now be a net food importer an live from one World Bank handout to the next, agriculture and other small business is virtually ignored.
One reason behind this trend may be a problem I have noticed frequently among my Filipino brethren. Filipinos are smart, much better educated than the abysmal public school system can take credit for and known all over the world as being diligent workers.
But one thing that as a culture is missing here (to my viewpoint only, of course) is hope for the future, or even simple patience. Filipinos are justly noted for their good cheer and ability to endure adversity. Foreigners come here and are amazed at how even very, very poor people are happy in their lives. This is indeed a valuable outlook. We Americans worry all the time, and if we aren’t really sure about what we should be worrying about, or offended about, then by gosh we’ll invent something. It’s the part of culture s\hock that the books about eating duck embryos or fried pig’s face don’t really address very well.
Send Christmas gifts in November so they arrive in time for Christmas? Good luck with pictures on Christmas morning … they’ll already be well–used by November 30th. Who knows if Christmas will even come this year, the gifts are here now, and after all, a ‘gift’ means you are giving it to someone. doesn’t it? Once you give, you can’t control conditions … unless you are a false giver.
Want to finance a house or a car? Be prepared to be asked to write and sign all the checks to make repayments in advance and hand them over to the lender, because the concept of keeping money in their bank to pay bills months down the road is just not (in general) even thought about. Not having money in your account is not a crime, but issuing a worthless check knowing funds aren’t available is, so the bank can be pretty sure the check will (eventually) be covered.
Overall I am not totally happy with my tone here, it sounds like I am making judgments I am in no way qualified to make … or I sound like one of those arrogant ‘We Americans are so much smarter’ characters whom I absolutely hate. I’m ‘smarter’ than a vanishingly small number of people in this world … but I do think differently to some.
But I am neither a Pollyanna nor a Philippine apologist. Things are what they are and my purpose is to inform, not judge, it is just the way things are. It isn’t that things are necessarily “bad” nor are the necessarily “good” … they just are.
- Been asked to help someone through school? Pay only for the shortest time you can … because if you send money for the year ahead, as an example,the chances of next semester’s tuition being available? Slim.
- Someone out of work and their roof is literally falling in? Help them pay for a patchwork repair job to keep the family dry? Of course, I would. But if times are good, don’t expect to see them investing money in a new roof instead of a new car or computer. Hey, the patch is still holding, isn’t it? Pwede na … good enough.
- Someone wants you to loan money to start and stock a little store? Recipe for frustration in the majority of cases. better to decide how much money you would be prepared to just give every month and let it go if you feel it’s justified, because if you finance the store the money to buy the next supply of inventory … the “seed corn” if you will? Guess what? Wala ng pera .. there’s no money.
Does this mean I think there’s no chance that Filipinos can succeed? Hardly. Of course they can.
Does this mean I think there are many Filipinos out there trying to cheat or scam money? Absolutely not. I recently loaned a local guy PhP 500 for some medical work his grand daughter needed badly. He’s a very nice man, industrious as anyone could be, yet desperately poor himself by any Western standards. My expectations on handing over the money were, it was gone forever … but hey if a man as rich as I am can’t help a little girl in need, of what real value is my relative wealth?
But the money is coming back, like clockwork, 60 pesos each and every week. He works hard for every one of those Pesos and to deny him the honor of repaying me would be to destroy his hiya … pride. He’s much too nice a man to insult in that way.
Just remember that everything ‘here’ is not the same as everything ‘there’, no matter where ‘there’ may be for you right now …and while some have implied that Mexico, for example, is the land of “ma ana” … tomorrow, remember that here in the Philippines, for many, bukas … tomorrow … never comes.