The Philippines was second to Japan in average per capita income in the 1950s. Outside Japan, the Philipiines ranked ahead in literacy, English knowledge, industrialization, etc.
A World Bank mission to Asia in 1954, rated the Philippines (and Burma!) as the country with the
"highest chances of success." Far behind were Korea and Indonesia. In the middle were
Thailand and Malaysia. Key factors included the achievements in secondary and teriary education and, I believe, natural resources. (However, the latter can be easily depleted if not managed well).
There is indeed to catch up fast. We can not walk while others run. There are indeed many areas to address. These are discussed in the Global Competitiveness Report as well as World bank and ABD reports (they are in the web). They include: governance, quality of education, quality of infra, rule of law, secured property rights, etc.
There is hope. But all must rally behind nation-building. We have to know the problems, and prioritize the solutions.