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You can view foreclosed properties listed for as little as $US10,000 in Japan thanks to depopulation and a culture that is geared towards working for the state. I bought foreclosed properties in Japan and now I reveal all in our expanded 350+page report. The information you need to know, strategies to apply, where to get help, and the tools to use. We even help you avoid the tsunami and nuclear risks since I was a geologist/mining finance analyst in a past life. Check out the "feedback" in our blog for stories of success by customers of our previous reports.

Download Table of Contents here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Philippines language

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I was just having a conversation with my GF about the Tagalog (Philippine) language. She was explaining the reasons why she didn't like the language. I think its very easy for a person to discard their culture, language or values, as some collective trash, but really there is often some value in it. She was saying:
1. Tagalog was very repetitive: Upon discussion or critical appraisal of the language it was apparent that it was really quiet logical in its structure. She said it was an integration of Bahasa (Indonesian), Spanish and Chinese, and maybe local native dialects, but her example was not true.
2. Tagalog was emotive: I tend to agree with her point: I notice that she will talk in English with people, but when she wants to be emotional, she will switch to Tagalog. There is a pleading in the Philippine language. I don't however think this is a problem restricted to Tagalog. Having had Japanese and Korean girlfriends, and friends in Europe as well, I can say that a great many Asian and mainland European languages are pleading or tragic. People are like this way for a reason. They are seeking alms or concessions. Its a tool. Understandable that people use it to get what they want, but sadly the counterparty is unable or unwilling to counter it with reason. Herein lies a failure of Asian and mainland European thinking that manifests itself in language.
3. Tagalog is tiresome: Her argument was that it is much harder to explain things in Tagalog compared to English. This is not surprising, though clearly my GF could not appreciate the difference because she didn't appreciate the history of these cultures. English techical words like at the core of most languages because the Western world popularised their use though the Industrial revolution. Today English is the level of science and other technical subjects such as philosophy despite the illogical structure of English. The illogical structure of English however is incidental rather than core. Its incidental in the sense that the language borrowed from others. It borrowed frm others because science and commerce resulted in it engaging with the world, spreading its achievements, such that it morphed with other cultures, but its core remained strong because it learned from other cultures.

It did not self-righteously place up barriers like the Japanese, which were subsequently broken down by Admiral Perry, it was mostly open to other countries. I think that is the legacy of English. Its a stuffed language, declines in structure with every culture it influences, but its culture always retains the right attitude. Always? Well, no. I would suggest its concept of self interest (as defined by its bureaucrats) is too narrow and commercial in its political expression, but such is the influence of bad politics. If Asia wants to impress it really needs to adopt a better philosophical system. But personally I think you will read about such a system on these pages before you read about it from some Asian bureaucrat. Watch these pages...

My GF did appreciate that whilst she had these strong objections about the Philippines, she really needed to live overseas so that she could see their cultural failings. I would however caution against nit-picking over cultural differences and understanding why. Cultures are different for reasons. You can't expect a cutlture to be different from what it is because it did not depend on any one person, it is a summation of ideas. Neither should one define oneself as the product of a collectivist identity. We are all individuals, slaves to a government that purports to represent only enough of the swine that would have it elected, having colluded with the competition (other party) on the rules of engagement.
Anyway we as good swine do...go to Australia to teach my GF how bad the world is, to make so much money that we can escape its vile odour... the raucous smell of a government that cares not to identify its contradictions. Well I love the physiology of my country, never mind the boring decadence of it. But I also like to explore... to seek out new experiences.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Superstition in the Philippines

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Its interesting how seriously Filipinos treat spiritual matters. I guess I have surrounded myself with a lot of cultures over the years, but I suggest that Filipinos are the most superstitious. On the note I am comparing them with Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, with Eastern Europeans the runner-ups, followed by the Japanese. The examples that come to mind are the following:

1. Work colleagues who ask their boss for a day off because it has been foretold that there will be an earthquake in Manila and a lot of people are going to die. It made me laugh. I would hate to die because I took precautions. Offices are designed to withstand earthquakes - many Filipino house owners might remember that. :) The strength of houses depends on the design too of course.

2. Property buyers who dont want to buy a property because its 500m away from a graveyard. My personal opinion is that dead people make the best neighbours because they are very quiet. I dont know the statue of limitations on haughting. I dont know how far they can roam in a night. Maybe best to live next to a cell tower so you can call for help, and the electromagnetic radiation might repel them.

3. Not talking ill of other people because it just might happen. Being critical, I do this a lot, and I'm always impressed by my capacity to have people touching wood.

4. There is also a belief in gnomes, fairies and 'centals', though I care less what they are.

The Japanese are pretty uptight people too. Salt crystals near the window sill in the house to ward off evil spirits. This one makes me laugh because it caused the cement and paint to crumble after a few years. But its true - there was no evil spirits over that time.

Religion in the Philippines

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You can't breathe in the Philippines without seeing a statue or ediface of Jesus or Mary. For people who are 'truly blessed' you might wonder why they are so poor. Well they seem happy besides, except when they run out of money. Then there is the requirement to run to OFWs abroad to ask for a loan, which seldom gets repaid. 'Sorry bro, its been a bad week. Too much gambling and drinking. Thanks for the proceeds. All had a good time'. Quite often its the wife working abroad and the husband drinking, gambling and playing around. Not everyone mind you. Just wondering who owns these caricatures of Christ. Will the owner please put up his hand! Would the all knowing, all powerful Jesus please extend these people a loan. Sorry, but even the church can't seem to get enough. Churches around the world pay no tax, yet they still can't seem to get enough. The Saviour is short on change.
We might wonder whether we are expected to take responsibility for living. Ok. But should that not extend to ethics as well. Should we not develop our own philosophy without being extorted by Jesus. Anyway, I just wanted to celebrate the burning down of a church in Bohol some years ago. It made me wonder what their grievance was. I can't help thinking it was justified. Maybe I am remiss and it was 'natural causes'. God truly does work in mysterious ways. More paradoxical than mysterious because I see a great many churches burnt to the ground as I travel around the country. Wouldn't it be more suitable for the myth if that church near San Fernando was spared the ravages of the volcanic eruption of Mt Pinotubo about 20 years ago. I of course have a great deal to say on the ethics of religion. See my blog Religidiculous. Both hard concepts to swallow. :)

Jeepney, bus and taxi drivers hard up

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The Philippines is a poor country, so understandably there is a political incentive to regulate transport fares. Another self-evident fact is that most people would prefer to buy a tricycle or jeepney because apart from functioning as a personal transport vehicle, you can use them to generate income. More interesting perhaps is the lack of interest in riding bicycles in the Philippines. In Japan bicycles are greatly appreciated as a mode of transport, and have been for decades since the country was poor. More interestingly, given the poor quality of roads, is the fact that bicycles can ride faster over rough roads than bicycles, because I can attest to the fact that I am routinely overtaking them. Of course once you get to the open road jeepneys are the most economic transport mode. You might wonder whether hot climate is the reason why people dont like bicycles. That is a possibility. I think for Japanese they go from a walking to a bicycle to a motorbike or car, but given the excellent rail transport, they might not even buy a car.
In the Philippines there is no savings culture. They dont generally have surplus money. They spend everything they get. If they sell a property, they will buy a cheaper house near the highway to free up cash to spend rather than upscaling like people would do in the West. How is this sustainable you might ask? Well, unlike in the West, they have family abroad, and sometimes family in the country, who are willing to support them.
You might think they are happy with this existence. I'm sure some are, but after loading my bike on an SUV yesterday after a mountain bike ride, 'one' Filipino commented 'what a dickhead, riding a bike when he has an SUV'. Well it wasn't my SUV, but anyway. How dare I engage in recreation when people are less comfortable. I might respond 'How dare he think like that when I just bought his cousins property, and might well be buying his next'. How sustainable is his existence? The funny thing was, I was so against this family buying an SUV, and now they regret it. Why buy a vehicle equal to 1/4 the value of your house? And also I knew where fuel prices were going. Its an expense, not an asset.
Jeepney drivers just secured a P0.50 far increase from P8 to P8.50 for the first 4kms. Jeepneys are a great form of transport. Its amazing where you can go with them. Some go down dirt trails. I asked a driver about costs. He was telling me that he makes P500 per day, he pays P1500 per day on fuel, and he uses another driver (likely friend or family), he pays him P400, so he makes just P100 per day for leasing his vehicle. A new jeepney I believe costs around P400,000, so if they are making P100 per day, thats P36,000 per year. At 10% interest, you can't even cover interest and maintenance. So I would suggest they need that fare increase if the supply of jeepneys is going to be sustained. The problem is - these decisions become political.