Friday, July 5, 2013

Why wasn't it us?

When I was in high school, my teachers used to tell us that we needed more people in science and technology so that we could better innovate.  As far back as three decades ago (and probably even before that), there was already an awareness of the value intellectual property.  This same clamor--to invent, to innovate, to develop--is louder now than ever before.  Within the academic community, there's a pressure to discover game-changing technologies, something that has the potential to create industries and yield revenues in the billions.

While I get why it wasn't a Filipino who invented the mobile phone or Google glasses, I sometimes see examples of spectacularly successful, relatively low-tech products that could have been us.  One of my favorite examples: Havaianas.  We have been wearing tsinelas for decades.  Why wasn't it us who thought of making them in fancy floral prints, calling them flip flops, and spreading them on beaches across the globe?

Another example: The Bottega Veneta's bags.  Again, we've been weaving banig for centuries. Why wasn't it is who figured out how to banig-ize leather, rebaptize it intrecciato, and charge upwards of US$1000 per piece? For that matter, with the decades and decades of shoe industry history of Marikina, why haven't we produced a Cole Haan or a Ferragamo? 

I have nothing against high tech innovations.  Yes, we should definitely push for science and technology development.  I wonder, though, whether there are still endemic parts of our culture that have potential for globalization.  If there are, I hope some enterprising individuals discover them before we're beaten to the punch again.