Candy Crush SagaAre you a Candy Crush Saga addict? I am. Clearing those colorful candies encased in opaque jelly-like squares helps clear my head and it is quite easy to be so engrossed in trying to line up the same jellies three or more in a row. The game has a built-in roadmap with obstacles like chocolate blockades, mismatched candies, and a limited number of moves. The game itself is a roadmap to non-intellectual nirvana.

A roadmap deals not just with entry points but also with exit strategies. It lays the predicate for the life one wishes to lead or the problems that one must exit from. There are also institutional roadmaps. For government, a major roadmap is the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP). The Aquino administration is pursuing a “whole-of-government” management for results with very specific milestones to measure its performance.

Similar to Candy Crush Saga, the current administration – now midway towards the term of a beloved President – is aware of its own limited moves. The Philippine Development Plan Results Matrices, meticulously put together by the National Economic Development Authority or NEDA with inputs from various agencies and development stakeholders, is a paper technocrats would appreciate. It needs to have its match in a simpler and more understandable people’s roadmap where development goals are matched by people’s aspirations and community roadmaps.

I tried to skim through the PDP Results Matrices 2011-2016 and I found very little to connect the desired outcomes with governing principles and program philosophies, specifically for our overseas workforce. For OFWs, the results matrices correlate social protection with social security and very little else.

Compare this with Indonesia’s Domestic Worker Roadmap 2017. Under this roadmap, steps have been outlined to enable the Indonesian government to obtain its target of zero deployment of domestic workers overseas. According to the Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar, starting in 2017, any Indonesian going to work abroad as a domestic helper would have to have a clear position waiting for them before moving overseas. He cited a cook, housekeeper and caregiver as examples. Their citizens cannot leave to work abroad as a domestic helper and be all three and more to foreign employers.

As a labor advocate, I wish that NEDA’s leadership would reach out to various sectors to explain the Philippine Development Plan. What use is a Plan if those who will eventually benefit from the outcomes are not even aware that certain targets must be met?

Ironically, such communications initiatives were underscored as a major component of this development roadmap.

The PDP 2011-2016 states: “Whenever institutional dysfunctions exist, the government’s capability to deliver its functions weakens. In such case, there is a need for institutional strengthening and service delivery improvement, which entail reforms for streamlining the bureaucracy, simplifying procedures, and delivering better public services. These improvements are allied with the demand for greater transparency and accountability in the use of public resources. Hence, it is required that the government make known its plans as well as disclose what it has achieved in terms of results. Only then can it be communicated to the public how development interventions, on which the public’s money are being used, can be translated to actual outcomes and impacts that will benefit them.” (Underscoring supplied)

This advice given by NEDA should apply to itself as well. As the primary custodians of the Philippine Development Plan, they should and could learn to bend low and speak the way most of us speak and dream the dreams that every Filipino family nurture.

Individually, we also need our own personal roadmaps. A heavily indebted businessman needs a roadmap out of his or her financial misery. A solo parent has to have a roadmap for the kids relying on his or her fortitude, frugality, and emotional fitness. The obese needs a wellness roadmap. The biggest tragedy in life would be to grow up without a plan, to spend each day as common and as uneventful as the one before it.

Wanting to excel in something as silly yet as entertaining as Candy Crush would require a roadmap, too. Though I wouldn’t recommend following the government’s results matrices format for such an aficionado. That would be taking the concept of having roadmaps a bit too far.

Gloria Steinem once said, “ Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lost the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”

Nothing is impossible in life. No obstacle is too huge for a determined, hard-working person. But for dreams to come true, one must plan well on how to obtain it. Roadmaps in whatever shape, language, and form are what we all need to meet our individual and collective goals. What is important is that we act on our dreams and not just sleep on them, hoping for the fruits to land from a tree that has never been planted. (Send comments to

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

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