Curse of the Orient Seas

Proverbs 12:17 and 16:11 remind us that a "good man is known by his truthfulness; a false man by deceit and lies" and that "the Lord demands fairness in every business deal."
He established this principle. 

Denver, Colorado was host to the 1996 Christian Booksellers Convention where more than 12,000 people from all over the world gathered to see and purchase the latest in spiritual books, music, and novelty items. With over 400 exhibitors covering almost 10 hectares of floor space, thousands of new products for the Christian retail market were featured. 
I always look forward to attending this convention, knowing I would have an opportunity to bring home Bibles, books, and other materials that can meet the literary needs of our country's Christian community. 

I  have attended many conferences and it is refreshing to grace this kind of rare gathering where there is no sight of smoking, drinking, and scantily-clad women; no sound of swearing. Continuous with various publishers spending what seems to be eternity filling out orders and discussing delivery instructions. 

That year, I had my eye on one large publishing company. After several attempts of trying to get an appointment with its representatives, I finally got one. But that was all I got. This big firm refused to give me a credit line. 

I have been doing business with around fifteen different suppliers. So far, everything has been good and pleasant. They have been faithful in their delivery commitments and likewise my store has also been making its payments on time.

This publisher's conditions were extremely stiff, I thought. Each transaction, regardless of volume, has to be prepaid before any delivery was to be made. Businessmen know that credit facilities are always given as a regular business function. But what to me were credible credit references were completely ignored. 

I surmised  that perhaps this is practice they have with first-time clients with whom they want to initially establish trust. Once this is hurdled, regular business can proceed. I was dead wrong. 

"You will have to prepay every order before we can ship them out to you," said the stern-looking publisher. That got my goat as I inquired, "But, Sir, I'm sure that you do extend credit facility to your other accounts, don't you?" As he affirmed this, my reflex response was "Sir, why then do you refuse to extend us credit?" Then he dropped the bomb and answered, "We do extend credit facility to every country in the world except to the Philippines and Nigeria." As I dug out of my defense,, he added, "We had some very sad and tragic experience doing business with your country before and we would not want to commit the same mistake again."

My first impulse was to defend my country as patriotic instincts began to surge through my wounded national pride. But then the truth has a way of making me sober, if not more objective. It's not the other countries' fault, I thought quietly, for we have ruined their trust for so many years. And our reputation has been so stained as a people that not even the word "Christian" can make them change their minds. The burden to prove otherwise rests on my shoulders, not on any pious-sounding name I invoke. 

Despite its setbacks, I still carry my Filipino passport and with it bring a different message that we are a people who can be true to our word and keep commitments.