Overpopulated Philippines: reduced to panhandling for foreign investment

Everytime I hear this and that initiative to “attract” foreign investment to the country and then see these touted as “solutions” aimed at uplifting Filipinos from the clutches of poverty and the setting of our economy on a “firm” path to prosperity, I find my eyes rolling up to the high heavens as if to ask: Why? Why do the hopes and aspirations of the Filipino rest on the Foreign Investment White Knight that we always look forward to seeing galloping in from the horizon?

The issue of why Filipinos remain trapped in Bangladeshi-levels of impoverishment in a region of East Asian high achievement needs to be re-framed. Seeing that we are in the midst of a media, social media, political, and religious circus surrounding the issue of reproductive health, I thought I’d use the core of contention of this chatter — population control — as the context for my argument on why foreign investment is not the fundamental cure for Filipino-style poverty.

Time and again, I have asserted my seminal definition of poverty:

Poverty is the outcome of a habitual entering into commitments that one is inherently incapable of honouring

Jumping off from the above, let us then start with this simple question:

Is the Filipino inherently capable of employing himself?

This refers to our ability as a people to create and grow capital indigenously. In a previous article where I explored the concept of wealth, I highlighted how capital wealth is something that ultimately originates from a people’s inherent creativity and inventiveness.

Wealth, in primitive times would have been attributed to simple things like a reduced chance of being eaten by a predator, an improved ability to survive a fight with another tribesman, and increased hunting performance among others. Over millennia, as the amount of humanity’s collective wealth increased this way the nature of wealth changed. The nature of wealth changed from merely surviving, to becoming more comfortable, healthier, smarter, more organised, and longer-lived. In modern times, the nature of wealth in advanced societies is now shifting from a form determined by control over physical resources to a form determined by control over information.

Are Filipinos known for being creative, innovative, and inventive?

History has so far shown that Filipinos utterly lack any aptitude for creating and building capital by inventing new technology, adopting foreign technology productively, harnessing natural resources sustainably, or applying new innovative ways to improve productivity and production capacity. The economic equation is simple: If we do not create the means to produce, we cannot produce. And if we cannot produce, we cannot feed nor employ. Simple.

This brings us to the next question:

If we are inherently incapable of creating the means to produce and therefore inherently incapable of producing enough, why do we keep multiplying?

Back in the Stone Age, there were natural means to keep humans (or any living organism for that matter) from overcommitting themselves to unsustainable numbers. People simply starved to death if there wasn’t enough food, or got killed when they weren’t clever enough to fend off predators. Human tribes couldn’t go around begging for “foreign investment” from wealthier tribes when their folk let slip one baby too many. Their numbers simply dropped to even the score with what their inherent production prowesses and Mother Nature’as bounty could deliver.

Back then, population management was a lot more brutal or cruel. If unwanted kiddos did not succumb to infanticide (desperate parents do desperate things, is what I heard), they succumbed to disease or malnutrition or were eaten by the neighbourhood sabre-toothed cat.

On the other hand, today, pre-meditated population management is within the reach of human technology. Humans no longer need to die violently in Mother Nature’s hands in order to balance the population budget. So doesn’t it make perfect sense to apply these technologies to the noble and responsible cause of managing our numbers? You’d think so. Unfortunately, some people beg to differ.

So here’s the thing…

Having shown that we lack the smarts to create the capital that we need to produce the goods that are essential to sustaining Filipino life, we can now approach with a fresh perspective this curious habit of ours of looking to foreign-originated capital for economic salvation.

I’m reminded of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. I’m sure in between tapping on their mobile phones during the church services they dress in their Sunday best to attend, most Filipinos will have probably caught an earful of this story by now. The Prodigal Son is basically the story of the Filipino — but without the happy Hollywood ending. Whereas the biblical version of the story sees the Prodigal Son’s daddy killing the fattened calf to welcome him back, the Filipino, unfortunately, sees no such ending in sight.

The astounding poverty we see today in the Philippines is evidence of how our commitments to feed our lot vastly exceeded our inherent abilities to produce said feed. So now we go around convincing ourselves of our entitlement to capital created elsewhere and continue to multiply like cockroaches despite a lack of any means to assure ourselves that every new Filipino baby born may one day go on to create wondrous sources of employment for his country.

Advanced societies produce people who go on to generate a surplus of economic output.

What we have instead is the Philippines — a massive factory churning out warm bodies whose aspirations cannot seem to go beyond a means of living built on the back of all things foreign.

Every Filipino born presents a liability at birth and is most likely to go on and produce a deficit economic output.

Are Filipinos a “blessed” people? Last I heard, “blessings” are supposed to be more of a bonus earned after basic commitments are met. The thing with Filipinos is that we rely on blessings and bonuses to enable us to meet these basic commitments. And this is why we are, today, a people reduced to a laughable expertise — panhandling for foreign investment.


Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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33 Comments on "Overpopulated Philippines: reduced to panhandling for foreign investment"

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i love this article! totally agree to every point. kudos! 😀


It is important to note that Bangladesh also has a parliamentary form of government and fewer restrictions on investment than we do.

Ideally, that’s already potential for an Asian powerhouse economy.

Frank, Bangladesh also gets hit by too many cyclones and gets flooded too often because of its mostly swamp-like terrain. They also have 164.4 million people, so they do have their own enormous population-management issues. The “ceteris paribus” question is… How would Bangladesh fare had it had a closed and protectionist set of economic provisions and an unstable Philippine-style Presidential System? You bet… MUCH WORSE than they are now. * * * * Just the same, Bangladesh is actually rapidly developing and some great strides have been made. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Bangladesh It turns out that it was because of protectionist and SOCIALIST… Read more »
That question might not be “ceteris paribus” as much as straw man as it implies that I was defending the failed Philippine-style presidential system. I find such an implication insulting. But I digress. It is important to note that if their parliamentary government could actually close the economy, then the possibility cannot be ruled out in the Philippines especially since parliaments are more efficient at producing legislation. And I do quote from the same: “From 1991 to 1993, the government successfully followed an enhanced structural adjustment facility (ESAF) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but failed to follow through on… Read more »
Frank, Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think you were defending the failed Philippine-style Presiential System. I know that you’ve actually realized that a Parliamentary System would in fact be way better than the rotten and failed system we currently have. I just thought I’d emphasize that with all of the problems of Bangladesh concurrently hitting it, it’s pretty clear that if it actually used a Pinoy-style dysfunctional presidential system, they’d be further weighed down by an even worse system. Anyway, with the case of a parliamentary system making hare-brained decisions, the point is that if a ruling party decides… Read more »
Joe America
Right, culture. Strike one is a penchant for taking care of self, not the community. I’m not sure from whence this striking trait derived; perhaps from being the subjects of too many feudal chiefs or colonial autocrats. Strike two is an inability to look forward and be proactive, rather than to go with the flow and be reactive. Again, I suppose too many people have been subjects, that is subjugated, for two long to believe they can create anything for themselves. Strike three is a blindness or a “I don’t care” attitude toward these failings, a willingness to subsist rather… Read more »
Hyden Toro
“If the Leaders have no Visions; the People will Perish”…this qoute, comes from the Old Testament of the Hebrew/Christian Bible. I have never seen a Feudal Oligarchy country, industrialized. French had to remove its aristocracy. Russia had to shed its Serfdom. China had to remove its landowning classes. Before these countries, industrialized. Our country is even controled by Roman Catholic Theocracy. So, attracting foreign investments is just a slogan of these self-serving leaders. They know what ails the nation. Yet, they will never lift a finger to remedy the ills. Because, it affects them; their landholdings; revise the power structure;… Read more »

“This refers to our ability as a people to create and grow capital indigenously”

what does this mean? how do you know this? all economies grow capital indigenously. unless capital means something else to you?

Joe America

Quibble is a great word. Generally Socratic questioning is used when one does not wish to lay one’s own thinking on the line first. Now, for a teacher, that is fine. It forces the student to extend his own thinking. However, as a way to construct a productive dialogue, it is evasive and manipulative. It is the opposite of forthright.


quibbling, by definition, is a put down. it means that the question is trivial, non-important.

now, B0 is the one that speaks of CAPITAL. his ENTIRE PIEICE is based on this, as well as the lack of ability to raise it.

if he is vague about his CENTRAL ARGUMENT, then by definition, its not trivial, hence questioning it is not quibbling.

Joe America

Quibble is indeed a trivial complaint. However, as Humpty Dumpty would note, a word means whatever it is intended to mean by whoever says it. It is intensely irritating to have oneself questioned while the questioner retains for himself the secret of his motive and intent. It is like being sniped at from the distant trees. It is not forthright.

again with motives. what kind of world do you guys live in? is discussion tantamount to some kind of war? cant people just exchange views, question each other’s views, without it being a battle? geez … also, words mean whatever it is intended to mean? to a certain extent, i guess, but only VERBALLY. written text is much tougher to put on a mean subtext. at any rate, if motives are indeed a problem, why blog or comment on blogs in the first place, if you dislike potentially bad motivations? the idea of a blog is to put out your… Read more »

here’s an example of “quibbling”:

“The Prodigal Son is basically the story of the Filipino — but without the happy Hollywood ending. Whereas the biblical version of the story sees the Prodigal Son’s daddy killing the fattened calf to welcome him back, the Filipino, unfortunately, sees no such ending in sight.”

if i had said, :”the first phrase should be the opposite: the story of the filipino (whatever that is), is basically the tale of the prodigal sone — but without the happy ending”.

see, its quibbling coz the comment has got nothing to do with the concept of employment, investment, etc.


[…] From our outside perspective – which, you should bear in mind, represents much of the potential foreign investment you have made it a point to try to attract – removing or at least comprehensively modifying the protectionism of the Constitution and […]


Your model on the relationship between population and economy sounds just like it came directly from the sundry proto-fascist and Malthusian literature that claims the best method of reducing poverty and other economic and social ills, is to reduce the poor and the “unfit”.

See my essay on this matter, “The Philippines: Underdeveloped, but not Overpopulated”, available at the website above.


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