Why are Filipinos habitually and inherently impoverished?

Let us yet again (there is certainly no way we can do this enough) revisit my brilliant definition, of poverty:

Poverty is a habitual entering into commitments one is inherently unable to honour.

philippine_povertyIn embracing the above definition, we begin to see poverty for what it really is — not an ideological construct of emo activists but a basic resource management issue. Poverty is a symptom rather than the root cause of a society’s most fundamental problem: a lack of inherent ability to convert low-value input into high-value output coupled with a pathetic dependence on the low-value input component of this equation for livelihood.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

Despite the Philippines being host to abundant natural resources, and now, an enormous supply of people, the society as a whole lacks a collective ability to apply this enormous number of people to the task of turning these resources into any sort of valuable economic output of consequence. Instead, natural resources are harvested raw and sold raw — mineral ore, logs, overseas foreign workers. Overseas, these then get turned into iPhones, karaoke machines, those shirts with the Philippine islands embroidered onto their left breasts, Honda Civics, Havaianas, and Starbucks tumblers after which they are shipped back to the Philippines to be purchased using OFW cash.

The Philippines, in short, is a perfect self-perpetuating poverty equation.

Anemia, a physiological condition marked by an impoverishment of the substance of one’s blood, does not necessarily mean a deficit in essential minerals needed for production of key blood components. It could be a symptom of a body’s inability to process said minerals even when these minerals are present in abundance within said body. It’s like being desperately thirsty while stuck in a little boat in the middle of the sea. You’re toast because your system is unable to metabolise sea water.

Indeed, the Philippines, a resource-rich island nation, suffers from that famous curse of the naturally-endowed. The lush forests and abundant minerals that had for so long hung low enough to be picked by any Filipino schmoe sitting squat on a banig have proven toxic to the Filipino system just as sea water eventually kills a marooned shipwreck survivor.

Poverty is not the problem. It is a symptom.

Thus the Philippines remains impoverished. And it will remain so until it addresses the root cause of its impoverishment: its consistent and chronic inability to process what resources it has on its own backyard.

Is there hope?

That depends. Any discussion on “solving” Philippine-style poverty should begin with an honest regard for questions derived from key components of my definition:

(1) Why is poverty deeply-entrenched in the Philippines?

(2) Why is poverty hopelessly chronic in the Philippines?

To answer Question 1 requires an effort to understand Filipinos’ habitual behaviours that exacerbate and deepen their impoverishment. To anwer Question 2 requires an effort to understand Filipinos’ inherent lack of collective ability to prosper.

Habit and inherent ability are functions of character. That’s good news because if there is anything one is an expert on it is one’s own character. Presumably. That means to “solve” poverty the starting point is pretty obvious. One simply starts with understanding one’s own character. In the case of Philippine-style poverty this means starting with the key aspect of the national character — its culture.

What is it about Filipino culture that predisposes Filipinos to latch on to bad habits and suffer from a deficit of ability?

These are the hard questions that every Filipino needs to face.

98 Replies to “Why are Filipinos habitually and inherently impoverished?”

  1. One, and only one, observation is the lack of initiative. In my family, the current generation took the initiative and worked their way out of poverty. This tells me that the opportunity exists for others.

  2. You used the word INHERENT. It denotes PERMANENCE, INSEPARABILITY and ESSENCE. When you use this word to discuss poverty in the Philippines parang wala na talagang pag asa.

    “Inherent lack of collective ability to prosper.” = Magpakailanman tayong magiging DUKHA.

  3. what is happening here is beginning to happen everywhere else,anything profitable gets shipped somewhere else. Go on the highway from cdo to balingoan any night between 11Pm and 6AM and you will see truck after truck after 50FT. truck loaded to capacity of trees just cut down and on there way somewhere else.The Filipino gets EXACTLY ZILCH out of it,nothing,squat,nada,zero!!!!!
    The theft of the countries resources,the fiefdoms masqueradings as LGU’s,Corporations paying peanuts to employees,and thieving politicians and kids having kids are OR more like it RUINED a tropical paradise.The flooding will get worse for lack of the trees and people will continue to be poverty stricken until the thieves are taken to task,en masse.and they will not be,so if you can get out of there……

    1. @IslandHottie

      You just changed the topic. You don’t seem to want to understand why “what is happening” happens.

      Try answering the questions and you might understand why we are critical of the current administration.

  4. One habit that keeps Pinoy’s poor, which you’ve pointed out in so many ways, is the habit of entering into commitments that they know they cannot keep.

    A lot of pinoys love getting things on credit, from the palista sa sari-sari store to those who max out credit cards.

    Moreover, they then to splurge on stuff which are actually additional expenses — cellphones, for instance.

    And I guess I’ve already told you about this, and it bears repeating again…

    Some Chinese relatives of mine got rich (or at least kept themselves from becoming poor) by maintaining a few simple habits:

    – earn as much as you can (sometimes they’ll stick it out to just earn even just one peso more, which is probably more of the extreme).

    – save as much as you can (even if it’s just a few cents)

    – invest in stuff that’ll add to your income

    – share (support projects that’ll help improve things in the community, support charities)

      1. I don’t know about Paul’s family but in my family the big difference occurred when settling for being like everyone else was unacceptable.

        1. Yeah, so you and your family have ask yourselves: if everyone was so damn right and settling down to their ways so damn acceptable, how come they haven’t prospered yet?

          Yeah, that kept me an over-achieving introvert in my school days until people like you and me came along.

    1. Ah, a person who demands facts. A person after GRP’s own heart. 🙂

      While nobody’s answering you, why don’t we Google it up?

  5. Poverty doesn’t just happen as a natural phenomenon. It is caused by factors that are continuing to the present day. Can poverty be defeated if not reduced? It can. Genuine state leadership, correct policy development and strong political will can make the difference. BS Aquino must have “geniuses” surrounding him who do not understand anything but beautification propaganda, manipulated surveys, straight path hypocrisy, control by subtle dictatorship of institutions and destructive palliatives. Political hail I, me, myself will not serve the general welfare. Mendicancy programs and OFW remittances is not the solution. A holistic approach is required. Jobs generation, livelihood programs and projects, industrialization, Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), massive public works infrastructure projects, increased exports, streamlining and re-engineering of government work process, work flows and procedures, and protection of our local industries will turn the tide. BS should concentrate on genuine reforms as corruption is still systemic under his watch. Scapegoat mentality and blame games is part of his defective policies. Perhaps the GRP people could add to my observations.

    1. I forgot… rising/excessive taxation will not solve poverty or protect our local industries. BS Aquino should not have a sheriff of Nottingham taxation mentality. Bloated pork barrels will only serve a few and not even affect the majority. Transparent accountability for pork barrel use is still to be seen.

      1. Yes, history proves that one needs not to be such a tax collector. Ferdinand I of Spain (the one who married Isabella I, I think), waged many successful wars against the Moors without raising prices on market items and without levying more taxes upon the commoners. You wanna know how he did it?

        Before he went to war, he never gave nobles gifts. Well, gifts are in form of money and tracts of land. So essentially, he is a miser indeed, but he never asked for more taxes, and his kingdom’s coffers are kept full. Correct me please, if I was wrong on Ferdinand I, but that is how I read him.

        1. Well, in fairness to BS Aquino’s mother, she made a livelihood program from the convicts. Has Mr. President at least improved them by now?

          What about improved transportation and information services, Mr. Jefferson? We are entering in an Information Age, where 30 minutes traffic jams and server failures can cause companies and governments billions of pesos. fast circulation of resources = more money

      2. President Garcia has signed the Filipino First Policy, which has taken local industry protection into a miniscule unhealthy extreme.

  6. One of the attitudes that makes us stay poor is the attitude that we can milk other people, especially our rich relatives. That security, and the fact that these people won’t be able to say no and coddle them because their Catholic conscience says so. That needs to go away as well.

  7. The people I see every day seem satisfied with their lot in life. They complain now and then and make comments like “you don’t know what it’s like to be poor” but don’t put forth the effort required to change things. Yes, the government creates huge obstacles and that needs to change as well, however, looking at the larger picture; The government you have is the government you deserve.

  8. philippines recently found to be in top 10 happiest countries. one of grp’s idol countries: south korea, 2nd in the world in suicide rate. i guess for grp bein dead and rich is better than poor and happy. ok!

    1. “i guess for grp bein dead and rich is better than poor and happy. ok!”

      Yes, we don’t want to stay poor. Yes, we want to be happy. But what makes you think we want to be rich and dead?

        1. You’re just missing the point. Jeez, do I neex to explain it to you like a child? It seems you never want PROGRESS and just want to remain to the status quo.

        2. vergin papatulan kita just this once. do you or do you not want to be like south korea ultra modern and progressive but number two in the world in suicide rate? yes or no. make an effort to answer now…

        3. Overplaying the suicides, calling South Korea ‘suicideal’ – strawman argument, exaggeration, just plain wrong.

        4. My best answer: I just want to make this country to be like Singapore or Malaysia. In case of South Korea and Japan, suicide rates don’t matter since they care much about their people and never play victims whatsoever.

          BTW, why talk about it if you can’t even found a solution to change our dyafunctional culture?

        5. Girl, society is too complex for you to make direct correlations such as happy == poor and rich == suicidal, or rich == less children and poor == too many children. Even statistics will tell you that. Bagsak ka sa stats mo, no? LOL.

          Maaari ngang poor == happy just like what Yellow snow would have us believe; dahil palaging in denial sa totoong sitwasyon nila, which is true naman–and retrogressive sa quality of living ng Pilipino. The GRP intellegentsia has simply repeated what Morga and Rizal used to say years ago. Siguro bumagsak ka rin sa Rizal class mo.

          There you go again on calling the GRP people children. Bakit ka ganyan? Pinagsayaw ka gaya ni Jan-Jan? Alam mo, kung ganyan na nga trato mo sa mga “bata” na katulad namin, iyon pa kayang mga bata talaga? Ipaampon mo na lang sa akin iyang mga magiging anak mo mula sa irresponsible sexings. XD

      1. Lumalaban ka na naman e tarantadong inutil. And what makes you dumkopf? A north korea fanboy? You’re just like them filled with anger and hatred to other countries.
        Your garbage posting about South Korea’s suicide rate is getting irrelevant woman. Is that the best you can do to attack us?

    2. Newsflash dumkopf. A US survey said that Philippines is the most emotional country in the world while Singapore is the least one. With that posting of yours like going hostile to us by saying that South Korea is GRP’s idol countries, you’re actually proving how accurate that US survey is.

      1. so because it came from a “us survey” it must be true? who created the emotion weighing scale? also improve your grammar, 3rd sentence unintelligible. my advice: learn a new hobby. debate and logic not for you

        1. You’re not even making sense. Your comments are becoming spam-like.

          BTW, it seems you don’t know what’s the meaning of “research”?

        2. Look around, so many references say this:
          Singapore, least emotional – country with least corruption in the world, rich and advanced
          Philippines, most emotional – high poverty, high corruption

        3. And who created the suicide weighing scale? Oh now you’re talking like a “genius”. Look around you dumkopf. Hell, look yourself into the mirror. Anong tawag mo sa mga balat-sibuyas na inaatake palagi ang isang dayuhan dahil lang sa isang constructive criticism? And did you emo flips ever change after being said about that? Hell no. Ayaw nyo lang masabihan kasi ignoramus kayo and that’s why you keep on attacking us to make yourself righteous and feel better with whatever desperation you can. Do me a favor woman and do some soul searching. You need it very badly dahil andami mo pa ring kakaining bigas at wala ka pang masyadong alam.

        4. what? suicide weighing scale? hehehehe haler domoy suicides can be counted. can you count or measure emotion? hehehehehehe unbelievable!!!!!!!!!!!! did you go to school?

        5. TROLL. 😛

          Did you know about EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?

          It seems I am the one who would ask you if you REALLY go to school or if you’re just trolling. Stop it, slanderer.

    3. Nice assumption, but most of us want to be rich and happy (and not only talking about grp and it’s crowd here)

      Who would want to be poor?

        1. And learn how to shut up if you can’t say anything decent to this site. Puro atake lang ang kaya mong gawin e.

    4. Something’s wrong here. How can someone be rich if they are dead? And you’re relating two non-related aspects. Does being wealthy and progressive lead to more suicide? And does being poor necessarily create happiness? Posts full of fallacies only idiots would miss. 😛

      1. no so fast chinoy, you see this is not about rich and dead per se. this is about south korea, one of grp’s idol countries along with australia and singapore and malaysia (dont deny that please) now if youre gonna lionize south korea you have to admire their suicides. the same way that if you admire europeans you admire their sclerotic side (most of them are sclerotics and lazy). its part of the deal its an imperfect world ehehe

        1. At least those countries never play victims and they always care for their people, especially the US.

          Also, another logical fallacy. Just like Chino pointed, a strawman argument. Who’s laughing now?

        2. Lionizing South Korea means admiring their suicides? Really fallacious thinking. Sclerotics and lazy? Could be said about Filipinos.

          Australia, Singapore, Malaysia – worth idolizing because their efforts are right. Philippine efforts are done wrong.

          Ah, so if we admire other countries, we are evil? There you go, totally biased and unreliable comment.

        3. What if I said I admire South Korea and its suicide rate? At the very least, the people who kill themselves are aware of their right to die.

      2. You said in the other thread that we fanboys you’re talking about are distracting you for being off-topic and here you are doing it yourself as well with that irrelevant suicide crap to justify your mediocrity that being poor will make you happy. Masarap ang kinakain mong pagpag ano tarantadong inutil? And hey, the poor people you’re defending are actually resorting to suicide as well. Namamatay na nga sila sa kakatiis ng gutom at kumakain na sila ng pagpag dahil walang pambili ng matinong pagkain tapos sasabihin mo pa rin na masaya maging pulubi. O masaya lang para sa iyo ang maging pulibi sila dahil gusto mong makita na mamatay sila? Sadistic psycho ka pala e.

        1. You have to remember domo that sendonggirl is just a pathetic troll that resorts to red herrings and ad hominems whenever she is backed into a corner. Resorting to personal attacks won’t work against us sendonggirl.

        2. your lover accuses me of bein a sadistic psycho yet im the one who’s into personal attacks hehe go to sleep jonny

        3. And your born-to-be-a-moron partner jon-asshole still keeps on trolling and attacking us as well even if he’s already being banned since he always changes his IP address. YOU should go to sleep now dumkopf and have unpleasant dreams.

    5. Saka where did that 10 happiest countries article come from, US Survey din? Tapos titirahin ang US Survey? Mali-mali facts mo, dear. 😉

    6. Suicide rates in the Philippines haven’t been updated since 1993. Can’t find 2012. Makes no sense to compare suicide rates of different countries at different times.

  9. benign0,

    So…back to the POVERTY issue…

    (Hopefully we can do this without interjections of the Filipino’s role in the Divine Comedy Sketch 😉 )

    I mentioned this before in the discussion thread following ChinoF’s post:

    Poverty is NOT THE ROOT CAUSE of our country’s problems. The growing population of the Philippines, and our failure to manage it, as well as the growing number of Filipino poor are SYMPTOMS of a wider, endemic problem of inefficiency and misgovernance coupled with persistent sociopolitical instability and conflict.

    The Asian Development Bank (ADB) reports (December 2009) that while “poverty incidence has been gradually declining over the last 25 years, existing levels remain high. Poverty in the Philippines has persisted for almost three decades even as Malaysia and Thailand, which had similar economies to the Philippines in
    the 1960s, have almost eradicated it.”

    The main factors causing this this are:

    Low to moderate economic growth for the past 40 years. Compared to our neighbors, the Philippine economy has failed to grow fast enough to create the necessary employment opportunities, especially in sectors where there are large numbers of the poor. Worse — the lack of opportunity creates conditions where there is an increased probability for the non-poor to become poor. The 7.1% growth the president is so proud of is a joke. While it signals a slight turnaround, the Philippines’ average GDP growth rate is still among the lowest in the region.

    Relatively low growth elasticity of poverty reduction. Simply put — the Philippines isn’t doing enough to fight poverty compared to its neighbors. Recent economic growth has been confined to a few sectors, specifically the BPO and other service industries. OFW remittances make up the rest of our income. “This is a major reason why not enough ‘quality’ jobs are created and why poverty incidence and inequality have not improved much in recent years. Sectors that will create more jobs have also not been performing well: agriculture, manufacturing, and industry. The
    economy needs sources of economic growth that are more diversified and will underpin higher levels of expansion and quality job creation. Hence, changes in poverty depend not only on the rate of economic growth but also on the type of growth.”

    Weakness in employment generation and quality of jobs generated. This is the obvious result from the first two factors. “The failure to sustain a high level of economic growth also explains the unavailability of jobs in the country. Without job opportunities, people
    will not be able to earn incomes and are vulnerable to poverty.” Coupled with a high population growth rate, and the increased participation of women in the workforce, unemployment and underemployment rates are high compared to the rest of Southeast Asia.

    High inflation. “High inflation has further dampened the positive impact of economic growth on poverty.” Deteriorating living standards and the high costs of food, fuel and other basic necessities directly affects the poor the most. It further reduces their spending on what they deem as “non-essentials” — things like health care and formal education.

    Failure to manage population growth. “Population growth remains rapid by Asian
    standards and has decreased slowly compared
    to other countries over the last three decades. Various studies have shown that larger family size is associated with higher poverty incidence, gap, and severity. This correlation is also shown be consistent over the 25 years for which family income and expenditure data is available. Larger
    family size has also been associated with higher vulnerability to poverty.” A larger population means a more rapidly expanding labor force. For which, as we’ve seen previously, there are fewer “quality” jobs.

    HIGH and PERSISTENT levels of INEQUALITY. This is something everyone on GRP is familiar with.
    First, there is income inequality. The highest income is concentrated in the top 20% of Filipino families. The poorest 80% have to share less than half the total income generated in the economy. Next is inequitable land distribution. Perhaps the most vivid depiction of this is BS Aquino’s Hacienda Luisita. That’s 6,435 hectares — the largest property in the country — under the control of ONE FAMILY. The poorest in the rural areas are typically characterized as having NO access to land resources. Third is interregional and intraregional inequality and the labor market. Simply put, “welfare and human development vary widely across regions and provinces.” We have highly developed urban regions like Metro Manila becoming a sprawling mega-city while predominantly agricultural provinces remain undeveloped.

    Regular shocks and exposure to risks: conflicts, natural disasters and environmental
    poverty. In case you forgot, we’re still fighting two wars. We have the ongoing Moslem insurgency in Mindanao and the war with the NPA. Then there are the yearly effects of storms and other natural disasters.

    External economic crises. Aside from the Philippines’ internal problems, we have to contend with economic crises originating from abroad such as the US housing market bust. We are still experiencing the effects today.


    To date, government policies to promote economic development and alleviate poverty have been largely unsuccessful.

        1. And once the mods are sick and tired of your spam-like posts, get ready to taste their banhammer troll.

        2. First of all, correction on my previous post:
          “get ready to taste their banhammer for you troll.”
          Nope. Commenters like you who keeps being hostile by trolling and post nothing but spam only to make yourself win an argument like you’re demanding some respect.

    1. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe the government is the largest employer in the country. Correct or not, confiscating money from the private sector and wasting it in the social sector then adding it to the GDP number is not progress; quite the opposite.
      The BSP sent out another press release saying their policy is good because there’s ONLY 2.9% inflation. It’s infuriating the way they treat inflation as a “good thing”.

      1. T4Man,

        Both businesses and individual citizens give a measure of their income to the state. They’re called TAXES, not confiscation. Income taxes, VAT, tariffs and duties are part of the social contract we, as citizens of the Republic, have with the government. We give up part of our earnings so that the state can function on behalf of the people. That is, the government performs its duties and responsibilities for the people; it handles national defense and diplomacy with our neighbors and ensures that domestic infrastructure is available for the citizenry to use so that we may pursue life, liberty, etc.

        A lot of people assume that tax monies are being squirreled away by successive corrupt administrations. To be fair, there is some truth to that. Since the Marcos era, we have seen quite a number of politicians and government employees increase their portfolios upon assuming office. However, looking at the budget submitted by each administration shows clearly that the state has failed to collect the requisite amount of taxes to function. In other words, we are still operating at a loss. So we resort to borrowing — from both domestic and foreign sources. This causes the Philippines to be perennially in debt.

        On top of the tax collection failure, a significant portion of the budget is allocated for “debt servicing” — i.e. we are using borrowed money to pay off previous loans. And to subsidize a number of industries — agriculture, power generation, etc. — and social programs, as well as to run government owned and controlled corporations. With expenses continuing to rise and revenues barely increasing, the national government’s operates under a multi-billion Peso deficit (PhP34.8 Billion in September 2012 according to the Bureau of Treasury) with no evidence of it being resolved any time soon.

        With a national government that is itself a portrait of poor fiscal policy, is it any wonder why its centralized planning has never produced a significant growth in the Philippine economy?

        1. I wasn’t necessarily referring to politicians “squirreling away” tax money (though it does happen) but the way the money that is forcibly removed from the private economy via taxes is used. PhP 2 Trillion+ is still not enough? My point being that the private sector is much more efficient at using resources than the government is. Increasing taxes and spending, has not and is not going to provide any improvement and it seems we agree on that point.

        2. Agreed.

          Taxation itself in and of itself is not the problem. If we are to function as a nation, there will be a need to fund the local and national governments the citizens elect to carry out the duties and responsibilities of a nation. That’s what taxes (and tax increases) are for.

          You hear motorists being interviewed on television complaining about the road users’ tax and the toll fees for the maintenance of NLEX and SLEX. The truth is these price hikes should have been started decades ago. They were kept at very low levels going back to the Marcos administration; prices that did not reflect the growing costs of maintenance. Now that we cannot afford to keep the tolls and road users’s tax low, talking heads on television express indignation at the high cost apparently without bothering to study how it got to be that high. They argue from an emotional standpoint that taxes and tariffs are an unwelcome burden on the citizenry but fail to provide any alternative for funding the government.

          As to the two trillion Peso budget — apparently it isn’t enough. It’s overwhelming I’ll admit. But, considering the Philippine government’s fiscal and monetary policies haven’t properly matched the requirements of the domestic and world economy, we are still operating with a continuous and increasing level of debt and multi-Billion Peso deficits. As I said previously, a significant portion is allocated for debt repayment, maintenance of government-run companies, social welfare programs, etc. Though there have been marginal improvements over the past few years, these are still government expenditures which contribute little or nothing to economic growth.

          Let’s put it in perspective. Taxes will always be necessary if government is to function. What we need to ensure is that everyone pays taxes fairly, and that the state properly allocates its funds so as to eliminate waste and control discretionary spending.

        3. Isn’t that where we started? With the premise

          “Poverty is a habitual entering into commitments one is inherently unable to honour.”

    2. Yes. All true.

      May I point out that the Constitutional restriction on foreign ownership of businesses may have been well and good in the 1940’s, but today, in the era of the globalised economy, it is actually insane.

      The Philippines exports raw materials, be they logs or ores, and labour, in the form of OCWs. It exports very little in terms of manufactured goods or services.

      People go to work overseas, where by definition they are working for foreigners, and they remit a part of their earnings to the Philippines, using the balance to stay alive with. No part of the value added by their labour enters the Philippines. Their absence from their families generates all sorts of social evils, which are obvious to all and we need not go into them here.

      This is NUTS!!

      1. There are parts of the 1987 constitution that need amending. Not the least of which are the provisions which codify economic policy. While much is taken from the American constitution, Philippine lawmakers went further and by enshrining a form of protectionism as part of the framework that governs the allocation of economic resources. Something that is normally done by specific legislation.

        If this were a short-term solution, it would have worked. The Philippines as a country trying to grow a new industrialized society, ownership restrictions and tariffs will protect it from foreign competitors. This gives local companies time to learn how to produce the good efficiently, and develop their own competitive advantages.

        Protectionism also temporarily creates jobs for domestic workers. As domestic companies are protected, local entrepreneurs are pushed to set up shop and hire locally.

        In the long term, protectionism hurts the economy. Limited competition, or the lack thereof, causes companies to stop innovating or improving their goods and services. Eventually the businesses you are trying to protect become less competitive in the global marketplace. That results in slower economic growth and causes more layoffs, not less. The exact opposite of its intentions.

        OFWs and call centers are to the Philippines as OIL is to the Gulf States. We are exporting a natural resource and getting paid in Dollars for it. It’s skewing our political, economic and even educational priorities. Everything now revolves around the service industries and OFW remittances.

        While this has made the middle class flush with cash, the supply of Dollars we hold has also helped pushed the value of the Dollar down. That isn’t anything to celebrate. What it means is that a country dependent on imports cannot buy as much with a currency that has a declining value. That also means domestic spending will drop as OFWs remittances are valued less, affecting their ability to save and invest in the Philippines. In fact, the BSP announced this 03 January 2013 that it would “continue buying more dollars to temper the peso’s strength.”

        1. Frankly, there should not be OFWs; barring the necessary few expatriate professionals and merchant seamen, people who work overseas should be working in their own country and coming home to their families each evening.

          The whole business of “OFWs” skews the economy and, worse, the perceptions, of the nation.

          I associate the idea of mass labour exports with Blas Ople but I honestly don’t know if it was his idea, or if he just carried a plan into execution (f the latter, I must say that, on whole, he did a good job.)

        2. Agreed. When a country is known for sending out migrants and overseas contract workers, it actually says that conditions there are so utterly miserable that staying becomes untenable. It says more about the society and government of the OFW’s country of origin being unable to foster conditions that allow the OFW to thrive, that they make life so unbearable that their citizens are forced to leave.

          Blas Ople was a great man. And NO, the worker migration wasn’t his creation or his fault. That was a natural consequence of a failing economy under the Marcos administration. Among the things he did do:

          As Labor Secretary Ople helped write the Labor Code of the Philippines, which codified the labor laws of the country and introduced innovations such as prohibiting the termination of workers without legal cause. He instituted the technical education of workers. In 1976, Ople initiated a program for the overseas employment of Filipino workers. This led to the creation of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) were created. Today the POEA building bears his name in recognition of his efforts on behalf of workers in the Philippines and abroad.

        3. @ Johnny Saint.

          Thank you; I have been impressed by the POEA and OWWA for many years; at the time that they were established they were world leading institutions, far ahead of what almost all other nations had, in their sphere.

          That is not to say that they could not benefit from the sort of overhaul that Blas Ople would give them were he put in charge again today, of course. But certainly he did a lot of things very right.

          The fundamental thing that has changed since the 1987 Constitution (which was a bit backward looking even then) had been the globalisation of the world economy; to try to wall off the Philippine economy so that “world class” local companies and products can develop “free from foreign competition” is really out dated thinking. We know now that the correct recipe is just the opposite. Encourage foreign enterprises to set up, give them tax and tariff breaks and a stable legal and political regime, and learn from them. It worked for China.

    3. War down south, squabbles over political power and Financial gains that can be had if one is sitting on various government posts are major causes of poverty in this country.

      War resulted to the state overspending on maintaining internal peace and order rather than protecting investments in exploring oil etc in our rich lands and coastal areas, we are not protecting our farmers and fishermen. War also caused the state to neglect farmlands in nearby war ravaged areas. Mindanao’s can produce more food than its current capacity. The prolonged war also resulted to lack of focus on education due to funding issues resulting to lesser classrooms and inefficient nd inadequately trained teaching staff.

      Corruption on the otherhand pretty much doubled the effect of war, sucked out funding one a lot of intiatives that could have improved facilities, social and community support etc. It robbed us of highly capable government workforce that could help direct this country to a better direction, what the government is hiring are people who are not capable in their work, does not have the commitment to public but instead want to support their selfish wants. The list goes on and on… What need are strong leaders in all areas of government who has a vision and mission to accomplish for the greater good. we will not have that person(s) without adequate security and education. The people we have that has those capabilities often come from the elites who often does not join the government and if they do they are mostly from political clans and are reduced to what their forefathers were doing, stealing from the government coffers.

  10. Can you see the Filipino politicians love the people to be in poverty? This is to take hold on their votes. Poor people will swallow anything, just to get out of poverty. On election day. These politicians are making, many promises to these poverty stricken people, to improve their dismal conditions. Erap Estrada was even seen distributing: tuyo, rice, noodles, etc…in slum areas to earn votes. Villar, the multi millionaire, told people, he grew up poverty stricken in Tondo, Manila. Not only the mindsets of Filipinos have to change. We have to wake up the awareness of people to this political scam, perpetuated by Filipino politicians…

    1. Showering donations on the poor and allocating government funds for poverty relief are just blatant vote buying.

      For their part, a lot of the so-called “underprivileged” and the “disenfranchised” DO recognize whats going on and position themselves to be in place to receive the lion’s share of donations and “relief goods” and government assistance. Might as well take advantage of a politician that wants to take advantage of your vote.

      1. Agreed. It is a mistake to assume that because someone is poor, they are either (a) saintly or (b) stupid.People move to live in slums in Manila because life there, however grim, is better than it was back in their home towns and villages. If a politician is going to give you a hand out, you take it, and you vote for that politician, not because you feel obliged to honour your corrupt contract with her or him, but because life has taught you that your vote makes not the slightest difference, because one politician is as bad as the next one.

        There’s nothing good about being poor.

        1. I think i prefer…”There’s nothing NOBLE about being poor.”

          There’re a lot of people who aren’t well off that I rather share a beer with than the guy over there driving the Ferrari. 😉

        2. @ Johnny Saint _ I’ll go with that.

          Actually I prefer to have a beer with the poor guy because I feel safer in his company – no danger of being “rubbed out” by his goons for saying the wrong thing!

          Making allowances for climate, this extract from a poem, written in 1745, that I learned by heart as a boy, sums up my views perfectly:

          Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
          Their homely joys and destiny obscure;
          Nor Grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
          The short and simple annals of the poor.

          The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
          And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
          Awaits alike the inevitable hour.
          The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

          Nor you, ye Proud, impute to these the fault,
          If Memory o’er their tomb no trophies raise,
          Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
          The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

          Can storied urn or animated bust
          Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
          Can Honour’s voice provoke the silent dust,
          Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death?

          Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
          Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
          Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed,
          Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.

          But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
          Rich with the spoils of time did ne’er unroll;
          Chill Penury repressed their noble rage,
          And froze the genial current of the soul.

          Full many a gem of purest ray serene
          The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
          Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
          And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

          Some village-Hampden that with dauntless breast
          The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
          Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
          Some Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood.

          The applause of listening senates to command,
          The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
          To scatter plenty o’er a smiling land,
          And read their history in a nation’s eyes,

          Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone
          Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
          Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
          And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

          The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
          To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
          Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
          With incense kindled at the Muse’s flame.

          Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife
          Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
          Along the cool sequestered vale of life
          They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

  11. Good article for the answer to the question is right there on the simple statements mentioned. Reality though is that NOT EVERYONE prefer to choose that option and some are CLOSED of every “clean” means to succeed(prosper) in this country. I really see poverty both as a problem and a symptom even with your given definition. The very word that is poverty has many dimensions that should not be merely defined as “a habitual entering into commitments one is inherently unable to honour.”

    The UN defined poverty as:
    “Fundamentally, poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to food and clothing a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation.”

    And at a sense such definition is broader and in a sense better. But your definition is something I appreciated as it deals moreover with the aspect that SOME IF NOT MANY people overlook as the “cause” supposing poverty is a “symptom” which is the people themselves.

    1. Hmmm, that UN definition makes poverty sound like some kind of condition that people are entitled NOT to experience. But for the most part of history, most people were poor and the affluence we experience now is more than the exception than the rule if you see it from a global perspective. Because the sort of people who formulate such definitions as the one used by the UN are from societies where poverty is (supposedly) an exception, they come from the thinking that affluence is an entitlement.

    2. The UN definition describes the traits specific to poverty. I prefer the more generic definition from the 1995 World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen:

      “(Absolute) poverty is a condition characterized by (severe) deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to social services.”

  12. There is a phenomenon the ADB points out, based on the Philippine experience, that contributes to making poverty self-perpetuating.

    Unequal distribution of assets (and opportunity) in the Philippines has created policies that concentrate the wealth with a small percentage of the population. These are designed to protect vested interests and obstruct growth for the rest of society.

    Poverty and inequality fuel social discontent and disorder. This in turn increases sociopolitical instability.

    Furthermore, people tend to be more distrustful when communities are unequal. Trust is important for sustained collective action and fostering social capital. Trust and civic cooperation are necessary for a community’s economic performance, its capacity to provide public goods and manage common resources, and the efficiency of its large organizations and institutions.

    Poverty and inequality erode trust. Lack of trust and cooperation breeds inefficiency. Inefficient (government and social) institutions turn away investors. Poverty and inequality also breed social conflicts like the long-standing rebellions involving the NPA and MILF. Wars deny people access to key infrastructure and markets. Wars turn away investors.

    The lack of investment constrains economic growth. Without economic growth and development, society has fewer opportunities. And the poor are caught in an endless cycle of deprivation.

  13. The poorest people are found in the rural areas the so called “rural poor”. Past administrations failed to unlock our rural potential such as the modernization of the agriculture sector and agro-industrialization. Now, with the current trend, in term of resource management, the government failed to allocate equal amount of resources to the different sectors. consequently, resulted to inequality and poverty. Actually, what we really need is a true land reform and national industrialization to ensure that the profit from these resources will be used for the development of the country. Since the country is being ran by oligarchs and families who doesn’t give a damn about the majority of the population, these things are still impossible.

  14. theoretical lang sa akin. baka mali rin ako hindi naman ako historian.

    sa akin naman, each problem has a root cause. may pinagmulan yan. medyo malayo ang reference point ko dahil para sa akin, ito ay nagsimula sa pananakop ng mga kastila. ninakaw ang mga kalupaan ng mga katutubo natin. ginawa silang mga trabahador ng mga kastila sa sariling lupa nila. ito ang simula ng kapitalismo. kunin ang mga likas na yaman, ibigay sa espanya. and this continues for 300 or so years. nawlan na ng lupa ang mga kababayan natin.

    walang socialism, mahina ang land reformations ngayon. ang mga austronesians(celia veloso) nating mga mamamayan ay nawalan ng mga lupa dahil sa kapitalismo. so, ung mga likas na yaman na para dapat sa mga katutubo ay napupunta lang sa mga haciendero, land grabbers.

    so, we need to apply socialism. bigyan ng trabaho ang lahat ng mahihirap natin kababayan. open economy 100% para may pakinabang ang human resources nating nakatambay lang. kahit manual job ilagay natin sa mga manufacturing businesses. ung tipong hindi kelangan ng diploma para magtrabaho. tapos ung sweldo ay around 25k. socialism. then we end poverty little by little. in this process you give our poor constituents the purchasing power.

  15. t is on how they think. They have capital, human capital. They just do not want to use it. Either they lost hope, or just not motivated. They also cannot delay their gratification. When they have a little money, they will buy cigarettes, booze, a karaoke system, a picnic. Instead of investing in a business, they spend it for their instant gratification. Also, many people do not like to read. I think if they will just read and read and read and feed their minds, they themselves will help themselves rise out of poverty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.