'Comparative Advantage'

Manila Bulletin, December 12, 2001 | Go to article overview

'Comparative Advantage'


ARE we losing our comparative advantage in the world of information technology? According to the Department of Trade and Industry, we still have that cutting edge against competitors like India, Australia and China, because we not only speak English but the American variety.

That is why many multinational companies want to set up their call centers here in the Philippines instead of India. My personal fear is that we are fast losing our comparative advantage and if the Department of Education does not perk up we will soon be overtaken by our competitors. This writer has received samples of how English seems to be slipping through our fingers. Before we know it, the majority of Filipinos may just be parroting it, American accent and all, without being able to speak it correctly, much less understand it. They might become like those musical trios in Malate who sing Spanish songs with such passion, no one would ever think they cannot speak nor understand the language.

A reader of this humble column said that last week, she went to a body care shop at the plush Ayala Alabang Town Center as there was a sale of herbal soaps and many other products to pamper one's tired limbs. Everything was at half price, she said, including matching soap dishes. So, she selected half a dozen of her favorite scented soaps and pointing to an attractive soap dish, she told the sales person, "I want this too." Lo and behold, she noticed that the sales girl was wrapping two (2) soap dishes! Another reader reported that he called the toll free number of his handy phone's international roaming service and pressed 1 for instructions in English. The customer service person said good morning and introduced herself in English but, as soon as it became obvious that she was talking to a native and not an expat, she automatically switched to the vernacular. Didn't he press 1, precisely for instructions in English? Was he being discriminated upon for being Pinoy? Yet another reader wrote that when he called a Makati office to talk to his friend, the boss, the dutiful secretary answered, " I'm sorry, sir. …

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