[Response delivered in behalf of the authors  at the launching of the book Momentum: Economic reforms for sustaining growth, 23 October 2019, Fairmont Hotel, Makati.]


In behalf of the authors of Momentum, Romy, Toti, Noel, Dondon, and myself, let me express our deepest thanks to all our donors and patrons; to our families; and to the dear friends who took the time to read and comment on the volume (former CJ “Art” Panganiban,  F Medalla, Cong. Joey Salceda,  Cong Titser Stella Q, Johanna Chua, JC Punongbayan (others?)…). Our thanks go as well to BusinessWorld, the op ed home of our revolving column, Introspective;  to Roel and Neil who shepherded the publication of the book; to the collective Fellowship  of FEF who by joining the often strident policy debates forced us to clarify our own policy stances; and to Dondon’s baby, IDEA, of whose Board we remain members.

This has been quite a journey, and I am extremely lucky to have had the company of Romy, Toti,  Noel and Dondon while undertaking it: Romy of the boundless curiosity; Toti of the principled pugnacity; Noel of the serene profundity; and Dondon the visionary  who roped us more or less willingly into the Introspective family.

Contrary to impression, however, we are not woven of the same ideological fabric: Noel is the committed liberal democrat; I am more of the Deng Xiaoping pragmatist; Toti and Romy are raging incrementalists. Noel’s baccalaureate is Atenista, Toti’s and Dondon’s are La Sallista, Romy’s  is Maroonista and mine is Seminarista. Dondon, Romy, Noel, and I but not Toti are bound in various ways to the UP School of Economics. All of us but Noel are members of FEF. We do disagree on many issues: I remain in the camp of my heroine Lilia de Lima on aspects of CITIRA, Romy is more in the DOF camp. Toti, Noel, Dondon and I are founding members of the “jukebox economists’ club” along with another founding member, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno; Romy is not. Still the collective light of reason that we seek and that shines on us together is stronger by far.

A few principles make up the collective light that guides us: that the market and the rule of law together can work miracles; that government is best that enables the market; that it is silly to trifle with long-run sustainability; and  finally that the Philippines can do much better than recent history suggests. Introspective’s  weapon of choice is “facts” – facts such as Noel’s recent complacency-shattering mini-fact: that the average height of Filipino women in the last half century has declined even as it has risen everywhere in our Asian neighborhood. Still and all, even facts can be trumped by fake news and the passions and enthusiasms of the moment, and many battles can and have been lost that way.

Our biggest challenge over the years has been frustration and the temptation to capitulate to the mighty status quo. An unforgettable moment of sheer despondence was when the normally upbeat and pugnacious Toti fielded a reporter’s query with: “I am already in exile mentally; it’s no longer my problem.” Fortunately, he escaped his Elba in no time and resumed the fight. Laying down our pens was never an option. We are ever haunted by the inscription on Goya’s etching: “The sleep of reason produces monsters.” [El sueño de la razon produce monstruos.]

Once more, therefore, our profound thanks to all of you, friends and fellow travelers, who joined us in this milestone moment. With you, the journey, if still littered with more failures than triumphs, is itself already a reward. Together, we will continue—to quote Dylan Thomas—to “Rage rage against the dying of the light.”