4 Ways The Cycle Of Poverty Proliferates In The Philippines

It seems that Zaxx’s statements in his last article is earning quite a bit of attention from our readers, both positive and negative alike. While Zaxx’s proposals may seem harsh, I can safely assume that many of his opinions regarding that of squatters is because of the many problems they cause to society as a whole. From excessive littering and causing floods, being a breeding ground for crime to just a plain unregulated breeding ground for people and Heavens only know what else, these are but a few of the things that make squatters so problematic. While I can’t bring myself to completely agree with Zaxx (however, yes, I will stick to my decision for volunteering for a vasectomy), I have to admit that things have gotten really so bad that desperate measures like those cited by Zaxx seem to be the only plausible solution for the problem of poverty in the Philippines.

However, I would like to present a different, more humane alternative. No, I’m not saying it’s a better alternative than Zaxx’s suggestions because my proposal has a slower approach and we all know how urgent the problem is becoming. Then again, because I still accept even squatters as my fellow countrymen, I am a little reluctant to resort to such totalitarian methods. Oh well, maybe I am just too naive for my own good and for all my talk of cynicism, I might just be an idealist after all.


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Anyway, what I want to do in this article is to directly address the problem at hand.

So how do I see poverty?

Well one can liken it to a tree. An evil accursed tree in fact. One with the shapes of faces in its bark and its gnarled branches almost appearing to be grasping hands and limbs. A tree not at all different from the tree of evil mentioned in The Santo Nino of Innocencia.

Okay, now that you have that image of an evil tree in your mind, imagine the tree having four thick roots. While the tree of poverty is huge and menacing, it can be killed. In fact, there are many ways to kill it either through dismemberment, burning or poisoning. However, to truly kill it, we must attack its roots. Cutting off its branches, which often take the form of overpopulation, crime and corruption, simply isn’t enough to make sure it’s really dead. If we want it dead and gone, we have destroy what causes them in the first place.

In this case, let’s go back to the four roots I mentioned:

Lack of Opportunity

This is probably the taproot of the tree of poverty. It is the single largest factor in keeping many Filipinos poor and unhappy. For all of President Aquino’s talk of “economic improvement”, he has done almost nothing to provide our countrymen with productive jobs and at least decent if not promising careers. Still, thanks to the protectionist policies of the Philippine 1984– I mean 1986- Constitution, our people are left with two often very sadistic choices: Leave the country to be an OFW to provide for your family and risk being abused by cruel employers, exploited by criminal syndicates and the possibility of losing your family to infidelity or stay in the country and be targeted by corrupt officials, envious associates and petty criminals while all too often being stuck with low-end and dead-end jobs that promise nothing but squalor and misery.

Ladies and gentlemen, until the government can provide actual jobs for our people, then we will always be poor and the squatters will only continue to multiply at an exponential rate. And not just any jobs either, mind you. What we need are steady jobs with promising rewards not just measly side jobs with no benefits and barely provide enough money to support a pet mouse. You can reserve abstract statistics and non-existent economic gains for board meetings, if the common Filipino is still stuck with a job that can barely allow him to eat three servings of pagpag (recooked food from the garbage) a day, then all those statistics and so-called “achievements” are nothing but hot air.

Unhealthy Environment

Let’s face it, the Philippines isn’t the cleanest country in the world. And nope, before you react negatively, just because we aren’t the dirtiest country in the world doesn’t make us “okay”. Bad is still bad, no matter how you look at it. And, unfortunately, the pollution in our major cities are major causes of poor nutrition and general disease.

And I’m not just talking about sickly bodies either. All the chemicals as well as the often abrasive and corruptive nature of our society often dulls one’s mind. After all, your brain needs food too and, as Zaxx cited in one of his previous articles, improper nutrition results in a slow and disadvantaged mind.

An unhealthy mind and body leads to an unhealthy work force that eventually leads to an unhappy outcome.

Brain Destroying Media

This is another fairly large root that, while not as big as the first, is still worth mentioning. Of course, I’ve bashed the media many, many times now that attaching their links is a pointless exercise. However, I will mention it again for those reading this particular article.

The thing is, whether we like it or not, whether we accept it or not, the media has essentially become part of our lives. It influences our minds on a subconscious level and, before you deny it, let me ask you this: Have you ever found yourself talking like the characters you watch on TV? Have you found yourself following similar trains of thought as they? Have you found yourself wearing the same clothes the people in your favorite sitcom wear? Well, if so, that’s how the media influences you!

Now, there’s nothing wrong with watching your favorite show. However, what happens all too often is that people get hooked on their favorite shows and are influenced by them to detrimental effect. Examples?

  • Spouses who honestly believe they’re being cheated by their significant other even though what evidence they have is insubstantial or nonexistent.
  • Teens who believe that nothing should get in the way of their love and breed like rabbits because they think love will solve all their problems.
  • People who simply wait for others to solve their problems for them instead of doing anything to help themselves and blame others when things don’t work in their favor.

What’s worse is that while there’s nothing really wrong with some of our shows, some put said shows and their favorite celebrities above their actual needs. This is why you have such silly incidents such as people tearing down the theater because their favorite character was killed off, significant others breaking up with their partners for not going to see a movie with them to those who care more about their favorite celebrities than their own families.

In this day and age, not only do we have to work harder, but we also have to work smarter. Combined with malnutrition above, how can we hope to create productive citizens when their minds are devoid of any productive ideas. One just needs to take note of the repetitive plots in our teleseryes to realize how creativity seems to be dying (or already dead) in our country.

General Despair

When you combine the three factors mentioned above, you go to the next possible outcome: despair.

The kind of society we have, when finally stripped of its glamours induces a deep sense of hopelessness. I have personal experience with this as both I and my father suffer from similar issues. My father, being born to a poor family likes to go on and on about how poor he is and why I can’t really expect much from him. What grates on my nerves though is that he seems to think that he’s entitled to my pity even though there are people out there who are in a worse condition but manage to make do with what they have and make something out of themselves.

While I’m not overtly fond of my father, I won’t shy from using him as an example of the kind of despair inherent in most of our impoverished countrymen. Poverty due to the first three factors mentioned above defeat not just the bodies and minds of the poor, but also their very souls.

Now, I know I should’ve mentioned this in the third point above, but with the way our shows (especially noontime shows) go, they encourage us to make ourselves to be as pitiful as possible (like my father) instead of instilling a sense of determination and recovery in them. I am usually overjoyed to see people who are otherwise impoverished make something of themselves and the boy shown to be studying by the light of McDonald’s fills my heart with a fervent hope that perhaps all is not lost. However, with majority of our poor mired in squalor both physically and spiritually, what hope we have is at best a guttering flame and desperately needs to be fed.

48 Replies to “4 Ways The Cycle Of Poverty Proliferates In The Philippines”

  1. you fail to mention deteriorating peace and order in the countryside caused by insurgents and lawless elements. many provincianos like me would rather stay in our hometown and live simple lives.

    1. A good foundation of family values and education may be the solution for lawless society. Brute force will never be the solution; history proved this already.

  2. Dear Grimwald,
    `however, yes, I will stick to my decision for volunteering for a vasectomy`

    You dont have to do that. I dont know your age, but the older we – guys – get, our sperm cells will deteriorate in quality and numbers. Furthermore, if in case you may want to have sex, just use a condom or have sex outside the ´dangerous days` (ovulation) of the female.
    Its very easy to have sex with a woman without using any form of contraceptives and NOT making her pregnant.
    I am sure a vasectomy is not free of charge. And as far as I know, its against the ´rules´ of the catholic church (not that I give a damn about those rules).

    Knowledge is power, so I wont go for a vasectomy.

    1. I too am planning to get one, so i dont have to use lubbers (i am reminded of the quote from don’t be a menace, “never use condoms son, they take away all the feeling”), watch the calendar or frantically pull out every time im about to finish (though a bit of self control goes a long, long way). win-win-win.

      1. In case you dont (wanna) use rubbers, pls know what you are doing. You may harm your partner by infecting her/him with an STD or worse HIV/AIDS. And also your partner can be the carrier of the virus.
        So dont be a fool. You only have one body and one life.

  3. Dear Grimwald,

    Lack of opportunity
    In many western – european – countries, the government doesnt create jobs. Or do you want more people working for the government as civil servants? The government itself is NOT a job factory.
    At best the only thing a government can do is facilitate the job market by reducing income tax or the cost of labour for employers – for instance.
    Jobs are created by businesses. And I will only hire people when I have more work than my current work force can handle.

    Brain destroying media
    I have news for you. In my country there are lots of lousy TV programs. Made especially for the dumb masses. Bec of high viewer rates, the TV networks make millions in commercial ads. If you dont like those programs then please turn off your TV, switch channels and/or start a hobby, start reading a (good) book.

      1. The government can facilitate to create more jobs to their countrymen while at the same time combat hard corruption. In our city(not to mention), when there’s a big corporation planning to expand, the mayor will ask for 1-3% profit during his term. This normally the business back out and wait for another mayor. And there’s more red tape from it. The government on a national level can eliminate this if not eradicate.

  4. Everything you posted in your list of “root causes” of poverty are nothing more than pointing fingers and everything but the root cause.

    The root cause is the people themselves. But we never blame ourselves. We always blame our environment, our government, and anyone else we can find.

    The cause of poverty in the PI is very simple. The people would rather be poor than do what’s necessary to overcome it. They enjoy being poor. They prefer being poor.

    Yes, it’s irrational to most westerners, but it is what it is. Poverty exists everywhere in the PI because that’s what the people want.

    You can fix ALL of those external factors, but unless the people themselves decide to do things differently, and are willing to do what it takes, nothing will change. Because the root cause of all of those factors is one thing: the people themselves.

    1. The reason they like being poor is because I don’t think they see any alternative to life being any different. Similar to how you chain an elephant at an early age, the idea of becoming something more than what they are is lost on them.

  5. Sorry Grimwald I’m not buying that at all. Elephants don’t think, don’t have televisions, don’t have family and neighbors who become OFW’s and make money overseas. Its not about opportunity, it’s about desire and willingness.

    Too many times I’ve seen non-westernized Filipinos given a good paying job, but they decide it takes too much work and self discipline to go to work every day, and instead they give up the job for no reason whatsoever. Work ethic and self discipline just don’t exist, and aren’t valued. They prefer to live off some other family member’s OFW salary or just go without food rather than work themselves.

    Work is to be avoided, or performed with the absolute minimum effort.

    1. FranzH,
      I think the picture you’re painting is correct. But that same picture is an effect of the Filipino culture. Its about “everybody is taking care of everybody” plus that nobody can tell others to get their asses moving.

      And that is exactly why they have a corrupt government and lousy TV programs. And that is also why, a good government will not and cant change anything about that culture. Change has to come from the people (like you already stated). But the culture wont allow that to happen.

      Take a Filipino/Filipina who has made it big in a foreign country. Do you really believe that she/he is able to correct her/his own (extended) family members who are still living in the Philippines? No way.

    2. Completely agree with FranzH. Came to the same conclusion myself a while back. For anyone who hasn’t seen it and experienced it, it might seem incredible that anyone would actually choose to be poor. Nevertheless, that is what Filipinos do. I’ve even asked people about it. They happily admit that they do not wish to improve their lives in any way.

      Most of them don’t even understand the nature of wealth. In most places, a ‘rich’ person is someone who has wealth-producing assets, ie., capital equipment, real estate, your own attributes, or some combination. If you have no assets, you’re poor.

      By that definition, the Philippines is awash with rich people, yet the average Filipino is only interested in selling off his assets (typically paid for by relatives or given away by the government) and spending the money on trash. Reason being, everyone thinks ‘rich’ means having a stack of cash (paper money).

      One could go around for ever in circles arguing about the historical causes of this attitude, but it’s a bit irrelevant. You can’t change the past; you can only deal with the present as it is. How on earth do you educate people about what it actually MEANS to be rich or poor?

  6. Feudalism is one of the causes of poverty. Just look at how the serfs/tenants of Aquino live…they are tied to the land they do no own; and to poverty.

    Birth control , not properly implemented, due to the opposition of the Churches and religions; is one of the causes. People multiply, without thought of feeding the children, they bring into this world.

    Stupid beliefs that children are assets. That they will be fortunate enough to have better lives, than the parents, is one of the causes.

    No good program from the government to create jobs . Also from the private sectors.

    All the public officials do, is Politics. They steal from the National Treasury, to use the stolen money, to get elected in the next election.

    Just look at the missing Typhoon Yolanda Relief Funds. It was intended for use for the rehabilitation of the typhoon victims. Now, it is missing. It is suspected that Mar Roxas is using the relief funds, on his Presidential candidacy expenses.

    Poverty can be minimized, but in our present situation, I doubt it can be.

    1. @Hayden,
      “Birth control, not properly implemented, due to the opposition of the Churches and religions; is one of the causes”.

      Birth control is not needed. Every body can have unprotected sex (without any form of contraceptives) and NOT making a woman pregnant.

      All one needs to know is when the woman starts to OVULATE (pls dont confuse that with menstruate) and pls also take into account that a male sperm cell will stay alive inside the female body for approx 5 days. So stop having sex 5 days prior to the on-set of the ovulation. All the remaining days you can have unprotected sex without any danger of making a woman pregnant.
      Ovulation is a process that lasts about 12-18 hours in which a female egg cell is released by the ovaries.
      Menstruation is the (waste-)result of an unfertilized female egg cell.

      All the above should have been told to you by your parents bec its their repsonsibility, task and duty (and its an integral part of raising kids).

  7. The Philippines is a bout as disgusting a place as one can imagine.The populace? PIGS of the lowest order that will litter and urinate in public at the drop of,well, a piece of garbage….The Government? Corrupt as the day is long (would be an improvement),and that is understating the obvious.
    Societal problems? too may to list !
    Country is fucked, the people are fucked and GRP has been writing about the same shit for ,what, 10 years now? AND NOTHING HAS CHANGED, HUH?

  8. “Brain Destroying Media

    This is another fairly large root that, while not as big as the first, is still worth mentioning.”

    What about the Brain Destroying public schools?

  9. Grimwald, it’s good your bringing the discussion on poverty deeper into root cause analysis. My proposal which is basically just a packaging of all our reader’s suggestions in a past article by Ilda is indeed quite harsh.

    But that’s the point. It has to be harsh – to sow FEAR. If squatters are not afraid, then the proposal is a failure.

    This society has come to a point at which FEAR seems to be the only language self-entitled law breakers will respond to.

    Pleading, explaining, enlightening are all useless to these thick skulls.

    The reason why Davao has no illegal drug labs is simple: fear. We need a healthy form of fear back in this country – respect for the law; and recognition of consequences of breaking them. When I went to Singapore, I was afraid of breaking any cleanliness / sanitation ordinances. cameras were everywhere. Getting caned was unthinkable.

    Jobs are needed in the provinces for sure. That’s why the 60/40 local-foreign ownership rule has to go away. We need to vote someone who will change this oligarchy-protecting constitution.

    We should copy Malaysia: 100% foreign ownership OK:

    I went to Malaysia before and I was really disappointed. I kept searching but couldn’t find any slums. I was disappointed to realize just how far behind PH is. If the Moros down south had a choice, I wouldn’t blame them if they preferred to be part of our neighbor instead. The PH cadaver needs desperate measures.

  10. There is a HIVE mindset in the Philippines and you probably aren’t even aware of it! You hear it a lot, people keep complaining about it a lot and everyone seems to agree that this is a sure way out.

    You all think and say all the time “government should provide jobs.”

    Is SM the government? How about Ayala or San Miguel? Are they branches of the government? How about Smart and Globe? Are they government also? Of course not! They are PRIVATELY OWNED COMPANIES PROVIDING EMPLOYMENT to the citizens!

    Why does everyone I read and hear keep talking about the government like it was some kind of parent who, if they don’t act, will never alleviate any of the social ills that befall the citizenry? Why is it Ayala keeps opening malls all over the place and SM doing the same and at the same time giving gainful employment to many otherwise unemployed citizens?

    What kind of work would the government give it’s people? LTO? DSRD? BIR?

    You guys have got to shift the paradigm thinking that government will solve all the problems! Sure you need government to do what it’s supposed to do like building roads, providing social services and education in public schools and such but this notion that it and only it can solve the society’s problems especially unemployment, is, sorry to say, very naive.

    Until that changes, I’m afraid you all will be stuck in a quagmire that won’t get solved for ages!!!

    1. You mistake my words. The thing is, the constitution is part of the government and it and its protectionist policies(60/40)are what’s crippling the country. Until we can allow foreign investors to come in and give them better deals then the Filipino people will be stuck with worthless jobs and worse.

    2. It’s not just the 60/40 thing, grimwald/NTB. It’s not the job of foreigners to fix the country, although it would certainly be of benefit if foreign companies would be allowed to operate here. The main problem is the ridiculous business laws, which apply to foreigners and locals, and the predatory organisations which exploit those laws: the BIR, BOC, Mayor’s office, all the way down through petty officials at city hall and elsewhere who have to stamp some meaningless piece of paper and take a fee for it.

      Ain’t nobody got time for that. Most businesses have to hire a full-time accountant just to deal with BIR bullshit. If the gov’t didn’t hamstring business, there would be plenty of trade and employment. But of course that’s unthinkable: people would get rich, and become less dependent on crooked politicians for scraps and handouts. And we can’t have that, can we?

      1. @Marius,
        I am just wondering what kind of business would I want to start in PH?
        Another mall? I think you already have enough. So if I want to start a business over there, it most likely would be a factory of some sort. You know why? Because of the cheap labor cost. And then I am wondering if – lets say – 500 – people are waiting for that to work in a factory.
        And if the wages begin to rise to same level as in Eastern Europe, I will consider replacing the human factor by robots.

        At the end of the day, it must be profitable to relocate to the Philippines (or anywhere else for that matter).

        1. Robert, NOTHING is profitable in the Phils, for the simple reason that the costs of doing business are so high. The country is a kleptocracy, as it always has been. If you make profits, the gov’t will take it all from you, one way or another.

          Compare the costs of ordinary items in the Phils – say, a cup of coffee, a bag of tomatoes, or 1kWh of electricity – with the same cost in any functioning country. Even in absolute terms, it’s more expensive. Relative to wages, it’s about ten times the price. The difference can be almost entirely ascribed to government theft and imposition of pointless bureaucracy.

        2. @Marius,
          My EX wanted to start a business (with me during the relationship) in her hometown. She wanted to start a laundry shop/store/business with copy facilities (copier) because both where lacking in her hometown.
          I asked her (then) if she did some research about the need for it (writing a business and marketing plan and doing surveys). Her answer was not shocking to me and was clearly NO.

          Any business needs to make profit not only as a part of my salary but also to re-invest part of the profit back into the business. Otherwise, it cant grow and cant do any new expanditures.

          Profit is nothing else else than turnover/sales minus all cost of doing business (rent, furniture, appliances, equipment, stock). Then one has to pay profit tax. The remaining (nett) profit is spendable and/or for re-investment.

  11. Grimwald sez: “Until we can allow foreign investors to come in and give them better deals then the Filipino people will be stuck with worthless jobs and worse”

    Again, I’m not buying that at all. No foreigner in their right mind would or should invest in the Philippines. Yeah, some do, mostly to cater to the tiny percentage who actually have money, but otherwise it’s insane to even consider it.

    Tourism? Are you kidding me? Before the Mindanao terrorists were just limited to kidnappings and killings in Mindanao, but now we have international governments issuing warnings, based on the PI’s own security concerns, not to travel to Boracay and Palawan due to highly likely terrorism? BORACAY ?? One of the biggest tourist destinations??

    Add to that the world press about the insane bullet planting at NAIA. And the government’s response? Oh, it’s not really a scam, and it’s only a few percentage of passengers. Are you serious??

    And the fact that the PI is so far from everywhere and offers nothing but some nice (though polluted) beaches, and of course pretty women. I think the PI’s tourism days are numbered. Nobody in their right mind would ever visit Manila for tourism. It’s absolutely disgusting. And when everyone reads about terrorism in the main tourist destinations, you might as well just close the doors.

    And you just have to wander thru an SM sometime to see the lack of work ethic from the vast majority of PI workers. They sit on their butts texting or talking to their friends and blocking the aisles instead of helping customers. The concept of customer service doesn’t exist. Why would anyone open a business in that environment?

    Schools in the PI are a joke. Every week there’s another holiday, and the teachers aren’t interested in teaching, and couldn’t teach if they wanted to. And students would rather run around the malls all day instead of go to class. Yeah, the PI has cheap labor, but you get what you pay for. Which is nothing.

    Why would any foreign investor come to the Philippines? 50% of the population makes less than $50 USD per month. The infrastructure is ridiculous.

    The PI offers NOTHING to the outside world. And much worse, Filipinos don’t care what the rest of the world thinks. Because they have Pinoy Pride, right?

    1. That work ethic thing is really true!

      I remember once when I went to a Generics Pharmacy in a small mall and was the only person standing there waiting to be helped. The three ladies behind the counter were all seated in the center of the pharmacy kiosk, eating their lunch, as it was around lunchtime. I stood there waiting for one of them to stand up and assist me since I thought, I was THE CUSTOMER!!! (Btw, there was no sign saying they were CLOSED for lunch, because I’m aware that some businesses do close for lunch and say so!)

      A few minutes went by and still, they were eating their lunch, talking to each other, acting like nothing else existed around them. I spoke up “Um EXCUSE ME!”

      One of the ladies turned, looked at me, smiled and motioned with her hands “we’re eating lunch!”

      I said “ALL OF YOU? ALL AT ONCE? How are you supposed to help your customers? Why don’t you take turns eating lunch so there will always be someone available to help the customers? What’s the problem?” (I was so disgusted and flabbergasted at the very notion that I, THE CUSTOMER, should WAIT for the ROYAL FREAKING HIGHNESSES to finish their FRIGGIN’ LUNCH! WTF!?!)

      So the one who turned to me (I’m guessing she was the one in charge) stood up and came to my assistance not looking happy at all! I said to her, “You know, you should stagger your lunches so you can have someone always ready to help customers.” She smiled and said “Opo” and I walked away shaking my head in disbelief!

      I’ve lived in several countries including a long time in the USA and NEVER once encountered such an incident! I used to work in a liquor store and anytime a customer walked in, I had to be ready to assist regardless of time of day!

  12. And by the way, the PI is touted as “an English speaking democracy”, and that’s supposed to encourage foreigners to invest in the PI.


    Anyone who has spent any time in the PI knows that NOBODY speaks English, even though most are well schooled in English.

    It’s all a big joke.

  13. Question, why do the poor listen to the rich for answers on how to solve their problems. Yes, it is time to wake up and get real. 1. K-12 education is needed for the poor. 2. Stop expecting the government to rescue the poor and get them out of poverty. (this does not even happen in the USA). 3. have a dream and do whatever realistically and legally it takes to make it happen. ( also have a back up plan just in case). 4. Take care of your own people. (no one cares about you and knows you better than yourself).

    1. Because it’s an integral part of the culture. It is ingrained in every Filipino head that the ‘rich’ man should support the ‘poor’ man. The ‘poor’ man considers it his divine right to sit on his ass and drink red horse. The ‘rich’ man goes abroad to work or seeks a lucrative government position and supports him. God is in his heaven and all is right with the world.

      1. Wow… so If I consider it my divine right to sit on my ass and drink red horse, I am categorized as a “poor” man..

        An just because you went abroad or has a lucrative position in the government you are now a “rich” man?

        1. um … no.

          I meet a lot of people who think they are poor. They describe THEMSELVES as poor.

          They are not actually poor.

          They have lots of land, their own house, and healthy families. Few people could ask for more. They are, in other words, extremely rich.

          The reason they have no MONEY is because they do not use their assets. Instead, they sit on their ass and drink red horse.

          They think this is OK because one daughter has gone to the US to work as a carer. She has a shit life, can’t afford to eat properly, will probably never get married, and sends all her money back home. She does this because other people tell her she is “rich”, and that it is her duty to help those who are “poor”.

          Do you disagree that this is how Filipino society works?

        2. You seem to have completely missed my point. I already did.

          I was contrasting the Filipino definition of “poor” and “rich” with the definition used in more prosperous countries.

          If you think my definition is incorrect, then please explain why.

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