Recently, one newspaper led with an Asian Development Bank report of 102 countries which ranked the Philippines as second only to Bangladesh in corruption. Now, many of us Filipinos know our country is a world leader in graft, but there is a problem with the report. It does not fit with Transparency International's 2004 global corruption survey, which rates the Philippines at number 43. How does one explain the discrepancy? By the fact that corruption indices are, obviously, so variable. In that case, there is really only one way to settle the matter: hold a contest, right here. I imagine there would be a search committee, composed perhaps of experts such as the military officers who retired to the US with hundreds of millions of dollars. Countries wanting to join the list of contestants would have to pay; those eager to be dropped from the list would also have to pay. The search committee could double as a panel of judges, if the government here promises not to arrest them. I know that there are many very strong contenders for the title of 'most corrupt', but the Philippines could make a good showing. Think of the killer slogan it could use: 'Asia's Shopping Paradise - You Can Buy Anything Here.' Just arriving in Manila, participants would already see our gleaming, new airport - closed and unused, thanks to massive corruption. Then they could be driven along the scenic bay, passing along a recently built, 2km-long road that cost at least 532 million pesos ($75 million), or 266,000 pesos per metre. After that, they could be briefed on how, as proof of its commitment to democracy, this government spent hundreds of millions of pesos buying the latest hi-tech election equipment. Yes, it is true that the election is long finished, the equipment has not been delivered, and the company that got the contract has mysteriously vanished - but everybody makes mistakes, right? Speaking of mistakes, candidates who choose to ship their presentation material would probably find them held up in customs, pending the payment of 'processing fees' equivalent to the pensions of several dozen inspectors. Perhaps at that point some participants would want to pull out of the contest, but they will not be allowed to; at least not unless they pay the search committee. Besides, they would not want to miss the contest itself, a fully blown gala event, with awards for several categories. 'Best corrupt customs officer in a swimsuit' comes to mind. It would all lead to the ultimate round where finalists would be asked what they want the most, and instead of replying 'world peace', would say 'a piece of the world'.