WE BET that you, like us, were feeling euphoric Friday as Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and wife Madam Akie flew in for an overnight visit to attend key events.

Giving credit where credit is due, Japan has indeed been the consistent topnotch trade and development partner of the Philippines.

The Japanese market for Philippine agricultural products had always commanded premium quality and price. Official development assistance had historically been high, and many a Filipino youth's future has turned for the better because of the skills development programs and trainings the Japanese government has been giving for decades on end. All these were given as partners and not as a benevolent world power to a poor brown brother. The programs and assistance are there in recognition of the positive qualities of the Filipinos in their service and products.

This is the kind of development partnerships the Philippine government should welcome and give prime importance to, not the type of partnership that requires us to be lapdogs and recipients of obsolete technology.

A people and a country can only be as respected as we set out to be.

Indeed, there is great dignity and deep understanding when we reach out to partners by recognizing our commonalities, respecting our differences, and building up mutual trust.

Let us, as Filipinos with a proud history and heritage, build up on these and seek out partners that seek to grow in stride with us, not just in financial terms but also in terms of dignity and respect.