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close this bookTechnological Independence The Asian experience (UNU, 1994, 372 pages)
close this folder7. The lessons from Asia: From past experience to the future
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentChina
View the documentIndia
View the documentRepublic of Korea
View the documentThailand
View the documentPhilippines
View the documentJapan
View the documentThe geopolitical environment and the local socio-economic situation
View the documentFormal S&T structure and industry
View the documentThe rural-urban relationship
View the documentInformal and formal sectors
View the documentNew generic technologies
View the documentSocial shaping of technology
View the documentConscious shaping of the technology
View the documentExisting agendas for shaping technology
View the documentConcluding remarks
View the documentNotes


If China, India, and Japan had explicit debates on science and technology, as well as on the relationships to the external world which were translated in varying degrees to action, the Philippines case showed a lack of both significant debate and significant industrialization.

The Philippines report takes into account the external environment as well as the historical sequence of technologies. Self-reliance at the macro level for the Philippines is defined as the replicative capacity of "second-wave" technologies. The latter correspond to the technologies that were developed from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution up to the Second World War. Third-wave technologies comprise those that have been developed subsequently, such as information technology and biotechnology.

The report emphasizes that there was a large gap between the rhetoric of policy makers and the Philippines reality. A viable S&T policy was not a major concern of policy makers, and no serious attempt was made to introduce industrial technology. Moreover, a scientific community in the modern sense did not come into being as a functioning entity.

Cultural imperialism strongly influenced the nascent Philippines scientific community, the latter often looking over their shoulders at their mentors abroad. Furthermore, the interests of scientists were primarily in agriculture and medicine, whilst industrial research and basic research in the physical sciences were downplayed. The scientist as technician and taxonomist, rather than as discoverer, is an image that has persisted to the present.

The three major policy episodes in science and technology from the 1960s to the present had a tangible result only in education. The announced policy thrusts during these periods varied from import substitution in the 1960s, to the mission-oriented policies of the 1970s, and to the "demand-pull" strategy of the 1980s, which was accompanied by a Science and Technology Plan. Although some of these different attempts had some success, there was no significant departure from the basic framework of a dependent S&T system.

Thus, although the manufacturing sector in the Philippines grew in the initial period, it was built up on indiscriminate import substitution. The latter did not help to build organic linkages between industry and the rest of the economy. Furthermore, the proportion of scientists and engineers increased only marginally. Funding for R&D as a percentage of GNP also remained roughly stagnant.

The study attributes the weakness of the Philippines S&T capacity basically to an inability to break the colonial mould. Either the rules and regulations to filter the inflow of technology had loopholes, or the local bodies expected to do the screening did not have sufficient expertise. The Philippines is thus in contrast to China, India, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, where there was a national will to make a breakthrough in a technology-dependent world.