Follow Traffic Rules

Follow Traffic Rules
Extract from a speech to the Lopez Group of Companies
15 November 2007

Follow traffic rules. Follow the law. This is the first little thing in the book. And some of you may be wondering – why was this made the first of the 12 little things in the book? For me, the answer to that is really simple. I believe that one of the most important things we need to develop in our country today is a culture of discipline among our people. But to develop a culture of discipline among our people would take a long process, a long journey. Where do we start? There is an old Chinese saying which goes – “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” The question that we must really ask ourselves is this, what is that first step that we must take, so that we can start our journey to developing that culture of discipline among our people? If you ask me, why don’t we start with our traffic rules? Traffic rules are the simplest of our country’s laws. If we learn to follow them, it could become the lowest form of national discipline we could learn as a people. That could be a good start for us.

A culture of discipline among our people is essential for our country to progress. This culture of discipline is the essential ingredient that brought progress and prosperity to countries without natural resources, or without much of them, countries like Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Switzerland, New Zealand, among others.

In particular, Japan is 80% mountainous, inadequate for agriculture and animal raising. It does not have as much of the natural wealth and resources of the Philippines. It is visited by earthquakes every year in number higher than earthquakes in our country. But Japan today has one of the best economies in the world. The country is like an immense floating factory, importing raw materials from every part of the world, and exporting manufactured products. As a people, the Japanese have an attitude of perfecting things, from the smallest to the biggest.

Another example is Switzerland. As a country, Switzerland has a very small territory, which the people use primarily to raise animals, especially cattle. But it transmits to the world an image of security and stability, making it one of the world’s strongest economies and safest places to live in.

Please let me say it again – We need to develop a culture of discipline among our people, especially among our leaders. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Our people’s habits could determine the destiny of our nation.”