Thursday, October 05, 2006


An email from a friend:
"Buried in the news yesterday was an article that Ericsson, the Swedish telecom giant, opened its third Shared Services Center in Taguig, the only one outside Sweden. The facility currently employs some 100 certified public accountants as staff, and is expected to hire some 200 more Filipino accountants by 2007.

"Great news, but...why not Dumaguete?"

Indeed, why not Dumaguete?

Because Dumaguete doesn't have the CPAs that can meet the corporate requirements of Ericsson. Because there aren't enough CPAs with the right experience and seniority in Dumaguete. Because the universities in Dumaguete do not produce enough accounting graduates. And if my assertion is wrong, please show me the statistics to prove that I am wrong.

Because an international operation like Ericsson cannot depend on one or two super-accountants. Because Ericsson would instead depends a large team of competent accountants. Because, even if the universities of Dumaguete were to produce the 300 graduates tomorrow, there is no guarantee that they are qualified for the positions.

Because Dumaguete cannot hold on to its graduates simply on the promise of a ready job when they finish. Because young people want to grow personally as well as professionally. Because young people want a little bit of excitement. Because excitement, if it goes beyond the annual parade of male starlets, is a dirty word in Dumaguete.

Because a global shared services center is not a magic wand that can miraculously produce the accountants it needs. Because a shared services center needs to go where it is reasonably sure of a steady stream of accountants. Because a business process outsourcing operation needs more than just the promise of high-speed bandwidth.

Because Dumaguete needs more to attract high-caliber professionals than the nebulous claim of high quality of life. Because quality of life cannot simply be equated to a nice seaside view and friendly people. Because quality of life is more than low cost of living. Because quality of life also means quality of housing, variety of entertainment, and reliable transport and utility infrastructure.

Because, nevertheless, Dumaguete society is not ready to accept a new class of professionals in its midst. Because the balance of the dominant yet ossified Dumaguete tetraculture -- the academe, the Chinese, the politicos, and the masa -- would be upset by the arrival of any new class that will not adapt to the old ways.

Because Dumaguete isn't doing nearly enough to market its virtues to international investors. Because Dumaguete still relies on a mere handful of visionaries to push the BPO agenda, yet treats them with suspicion and disdain. Because Dumaguete doesn't have an investment package. Because Dumaguete doesn't even have a working city government website.

Because Dumaguete isn't doing nearly enough to prepare itself for international investors. Because Dumaguete still relies on its old inadequate airport. Because Dumaguete doesn't even have a decent seaport. Because Dumaguete doesn't have the hotels, restaurants, and resorts where we can wine and dine our guests. Because Dumaguete has taken a look at itself and said, "Ay, pwede na man ni."

Which is not to say that it can't happen, because it has. Twice. But the two companies we have managed to attract have come as an act of faith. We're a long way still from becoming the default choice.

Regardless, the question is wrong. It should not be "Why not Dumaguete?" but rather "Why not yet Dumaguete?"

Now, what are we going to do about it?


  1. be open minded, and do all positive things...just do things and never mind who gets the credit...most of all we should be free to express the ills in our society, and to express about what we feel about our environment and people...there must be a free flow of ideas, and dialogue. transparency must be the word of the times.

  2. Great post, Dom. You can substitute Naga for Dumaguete in most of them and the ring of the naked, painful truth remains.

    The odds are tough competing with the country's three major urban centers, which have attractions you mentioned that mesmerized our best graduates every year like the sirens' song in Odyssey.

    That's why I think nicheing is a good idea -- focusing on the few best areas we our own cities can really be good at, some sort of Collins' big hairy audacious goal (BHAG). While building a truly competitive and livable city piece by piece.

  3. Thanks, Willy, always encouraging to see other folks in the same fight as you are.

    That said, it's good to see that small cities like Naga and Dumaguete are where we can make a difference.