Filipinos are undeniably an innovative people. One example: from generation to generation, they’ve recycled to reuse what most people elsewhere would discard. Meager incomes and lack of available funds is what’s largely driven this practice – and so, for confirmation of the maxim, “Necessity is the mother of invention” look no further than in the Philippines.
Time and again the people of this archipelago have shown that when it comes to figuring out another use for something, they’ll find it – from creating sculptural art out of scrap metal, to building jeepneys from old vehicle parts, to this: constructing a school from plastic bottles (photo); https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJn4Gy_LvNQ.
But an important by-product born from that need to reuse items – everyday things which in the throw-away consumer societies of the developed world end up in landfills – has made Filipinos creative and innovative. And that’s something which will stand this country in good stead as, globally, greater emphasis is being placed on the formation of new ideas – the creation and development and sharing of new knowledge.
Outputs in knowledge and technology, along with the ability to create knowledge, are important propellants of innovation. Just to recap; why innovation is becoming a goal in its own right is because it’s “critical to raising long-term economic growth”.
That explanation comes from Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (or, WIPO), an autonomous specialised agency which works with the United Nations. He said: “In this current economic climate, uncovering new sources of growth and leveraging the opportunities raised by global innovation are priorities for all stakeholders”.
And that most certainly includes the Philippines which is fast finding its stride in the area of ‘Knowledge and technology outputs’, as shown by the 2017 Global Innovation Index (GII) in its evaluation of that category.
This metric captures evidence of actual knowledge transfer. Here are the GII world-ranking results for eight Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) states – Laos and Myanmar were not surveyed. Singapore, 11th; Vietnam, 28th; Malaysia, 36th; Thailand, 40th; Philippines, 42nd; Indonesia, 70th; Cambodia, 90th; Brunei, 114th. That gives the Philippines a very respectable world ranking and a close fourth place within the prime competition group of Asean.
What’s boosted that showing, however, was its performance in the sub-category, ‘Knowledge creation’. Here are the GII global-rankings of the Asean states for that: Singapore, 34th; Thailand, 47th; Philippines, 65th; Vietnam, 73rd; Malaysia, 74th; Brunei, 98th; Cambodia, 105th; Indonesia, 113th.
Given the Philippines long history of recreating uses for things that normally would be regarded as past their use-by date, this area – perhaps more than most – is what will sustain the country’s progress in the field of innovation. Filipinos have developed a high capacity to think creatively and find cost-effective solutions. On top of that, they’re highly IT literate and tech-savvy.
All this augurs well for innovation in the Philippines going forward. Certainly, it’s an area that needs a lot of investment throwing at it; but what it already has is the natural resources to drive it – people, for whom it’s second nature to work things out and find affordable answers.