The dominant news last week (and probably for weeks to come) was the Napoles list and its different versions. Public reaction to the list has, in varying degrees, ranged from outrage to annoyance, to confusion, to amusement. But never did it elicit disinterest or indifference. With gusto, everybody seemed to read, watch or listen to everything that media could dish out on the matter.
The fact is people are generally fascinated by lists. Lists are attention getters and favorite topics of conversation.
Lists have been used for a variety of purposes. They have been used to honor (or conversely, to put to shame) people, places, institutions and even nations. Lists have also been used to entertain and/or to educate.
The first Napoles-type list in the Philippines was that of American businessman Harry Stonehill in the ‘60s. It has infamously been labeled as The Blue Book. The Blue Book supposedly contained a list of around 200 public officials who allegedly received money from Stonehill in exchange for favors and/or business information.
A popular series of books, which first appeared in 1977 in the United States, was the Book of Lists compiled by David Wallenchinsksky.
The book contained a list of diverse topics such as the world’s greatest libel suits, people suspected of being Jack the Ripper, worst places to hitchhike and famous people who died during sexual intercourse.
More contemporary lists include the following:
Transparency International annually lists the Most Corrupt Countries in the World. The list is based on surveys of experts and business people and their confidence in the public sector for investments. In 2013, Transparency International came up with its 23 Most Corrupt. The Philippines was not among them. Great!
TI listed the countries perceived as most corrupt in the following order: 1) Somalia 2) North Korea 3) Afghanistan 4) Sudan 5) South Sudan 6) Libya 7) Iraq 8) Uzbekistan 9) Turkmenistan 10) Syria 11) Yemen 12) Haiti 13) Guinea-Bissau 14) Equatorial Guinea 15) Chad 16) Venezuela 17) Eritrea 18) Cambodia 19) Zimbabwe 20) Myanmar 21) Burundi 22) Tajekistan and 23) Democratic Republic of Congo.
Transparency International also came up with The Least Corrupt Countries. The Philippines was not in this list either. Sayang!
TI’s Least Corrupt Countries in 2013 were the following: 1) Denmark 2) New Zealand 3) Finland 4) Sweden 5) Norway 6) Switzerland 7) The Netherlands 8) Australia and 9) Canada.
Travel publications and companies with expatriate deployments also come out annually with various versions the Most Livable Cities, the Best Airports in the World, and the Most Polluted Cities in the World.
Here is one listing of Most Livable Cities: 1) Melbourne 2) Vienna 3) Vancouver 4) Toronto 5) Adelaide 6) Calgary 7) Sydney 8) Helsinki 9) Perth 10) Auckland. The list, of course, is contested by non-Anglo countries.
Self-improvement gurus have their own lists. Stephen Covey , for example, initially listed 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, as follows: 1) Be proactive. 2) Begin with the end in mind. 3) Put first things first. 4) Think Win-Win. 5) Seek first to understand, then to be understood. 6) Synergize. 7) Sharpen the saw. (Continuous Improvement). Covey eventually added an 8th Habit: Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.
Hollywood media has its Best Dressed List, Worst Dressed List. Some movies even have titles such as “The Bucket List” and “Schindler’s List”.
In the Philippines, there are lists wherein an individual or an institution would be proud to be included in, eg: Top 1000 Corporation, Top Taxpayers, TOYM, TOWNS, TOFIL, Metrobank’s Most Outstanding Policemen/Soldiers/Teachers, 100 Most Influential Filipinos (published annually by Tony Lopez’ BizNews Asia) and the various lists of successful examinees in government examinations.
There are some lists where one would not want to be included in, eg.:
Any list similar to that of Napoles’ , The Philippines’ Most Wanted, BIR’s List of Delinquent Taxpayers, Bureau of Immigration’s Watch List, The AFP’s Order of Battle, the NPA’s Hit List, and for creditors, The Water List or Lista sa Tubig.
My friend Gary Lising has his own list called Who’s Who Among Ateneo Alumni. Gary explains that years after graduation from college one can’t recognize anymore who is who.