The Migrant Ethic and Selection Pressures in Harsh Human Habitats

22 March 2002

It's not that the Filipino lot are not cut out to be successful. It's more that the Philippine Nation is home to the original whole lot -- the original unscreened full human spectrum from industrious to indolent, from frugal to spendthrift, from long-sighted to short-sighted, you name it, the Islands have got it.

As one goes towards the left end of the spectrum, one increasingly finds individuals that account for much of the success -- and the resulting economic output -- that the country has so far achieved. On the right side of the spectrum are those that continue to undermine these successes -- the "exploited" and "victimised" sectors of society.

The Philippine Islands, being a tropical environment, is one of homo sapiens' native habitats. Our original ancestors could run around naked 365 days a year and be perfectly comfortable. Food supply did not vary significantly throughout the year -- long-term bulk storage along with the planning and foresight involved with such tasks therefore did not make much sense and the development of the skills to pursue these undertakings, as a result, remained stunted. Our ancestors were in such harmony with the environment that the dynamics of survival were pretty much simple. As far as the range of human capability is concerned, it did not take much cleverness beyond pleistocene or early holocene levels of sophistication to survive in a tropical habitat.

Migration did occur, however. And, considering that the tropics were homo sapiens' paradise, certain qualities would have existed in individuals that had a predisposition to migrate -- individuals who would rather brave (and in some instances permanently settle) the unknown in search of food and adventure than sit around picking ticks off one anothers' scalps.

This gave cultures that evolved in harsher climates a long-term advantage. They were most probably populated by individuals from the upper percentiles of the fitness spectrum of tropical populations -- individuals who happened to possess traits that enabled or motivated them to, at the very least, consider leaving their natural habitats to face what, at the time, were hostile or even alien habitats. The harshness of many of the habitats these individuals chose to settle effectively served as selection pressures that worked against individuals who were not prepared to change their whole paradigm of survival -- in effect, excluding them from the civilisations that eventually developed in these environments.The following diagram illustrates this concept:

Many of these "motivated" individuals of course opted to stay in their native habitats and have prospered in absolute terms. However they did so in the midst of the rest of the lot that chose to stay.

Part of the solution framework, therefore, needs to address this reality -- that a big swath of Philippine society may have absolutely no predisposition to embrace traits that will lead them to personal prosperity.

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