06 May2013

Duh. Really? NO, let’s not let this piece of HEADLINE grabbing, but totally unsurprising news pass without a serious post on the matter. Over the past few weeks several things have prompted me to write this post, so bear with me, read through it if you’re interested, and ponder. Particularly since it is national elections next week, and oddly, the last time I wrote about poverty was before the last Presidential elections three years ago. That post, garnered a stunning 40,000+ page views and is one of the most “liked” posts on this blog… It was also read by several Presidential candidates and their staff/advisors, tens of thousands of voters, got the interest of several multinational agencies, development banks, and educated professionals who don’t normally frequent this blog. If you haven’t read that old post, read it first here, before continuing with this post.

A new Family Income & Expenditure Survey (FIES) was done in 2012, but full results won’t be released for a while (and aren’t as readily accessible on the net, as they were previously). But news made headlines a few days ago when officials (with early dibs on the data/results of the survey) were quoted as saying that the percentage of Filipinos below the poverty line remained the same for the last six years, despite positive growth in the economy. The percentage is the same, but because population growth is rapid, the number of poor has actually grown. The startling conclusion is that despite robust annual growth in GDP for the past 6 years, none of that has trickled down to the nation’s poorest citizens. That DESPITE a PHP40 billion cash dole out program to the poorest families, that in theory should have reduced the number of families falling below the poverty line by half a million families! My long-running survey on IQ’s was prompted by an article I read that the average IQ of the Philippines is quite low, at 86. This wasn’t really a surprise though, given the state of our public school education, here. I recently watched a heart-wrenching and rather sad documentary on four Filipino teachers’ journey working as OFW’s in the Baltimore public school system, called “The Learning”. If you haven’t seen it, make a point to see it. But the final push that triggered my curiosity/anger was a request from Jessica Soho’s Kapuso Mo staff to cook a meal for PHP180 that was nutritionally complete and met the minimum caloric needs of a person. It was to be a “challenge” of sorts, with other cooks/chefs/food professionals invited to participate. I agreed, honestly thinking it was a meal for a family of five. Then they called back and said, no, it’s PHP180 for THREE meals for a family of five including breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was stunned, but challenged. Unfortunately, at the last minute they cancelled the filming, as the crew couldn’t make both Cebu and a previous commitment in Bohol. The episode aired last night, and I didn’t see it. But it really got me, and my office colleagues thinking. Why PHP180?

The Philippine government claims that you are NOT POOR (that’s poor or “dirt”/extremely poor) if you manage to put PHP180 or more worth of food on the table for your family of five every day. And that you can get 2,000+ calories and a nutritionally balanced diet on that amount. Counting ALL OTHER expenses, for rent, transport, etc, the daily figure is roughly PHP250 per day, or roughly PHP7,500 per month. Roughly 28% of the the Filipino population falls below this poverty line. And lest you underappreciate the magnitude of numbers, that means close to 27 MILLION citizens are living in “poverty”. But wait, what does poverty mean, how do we define it? Our definition of poverty is roughly PHP50 per person or US$1.25 a day, nearly exactly the figure that The World Bank uses as its global measure of who is poor or not. SURPRISINGLY, global poverty HAS declined rather dramatically over the past few decades (this actually was a revelation for me), with a notable exception in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. And NOT in the Philippines for the last six years. But a HUGE portion of poverty reduction has come in China, with a billion plus population, and it’s early to throw this out there, but some folks have made a strong argument that China, with its one child policy (ergo smaller planned families) combined with rapid economic growth for 20+ years in a row has done far, far better in the reduction of the ranks of poverty, than India, where population growth is still high but they likewise have had some good economic growth numbers for the past decade or so. The conclusion being that population growth does indeed have something to do with poverty amelioration… but more on that later. If you are just as incredulous as I am about the PHP180 budget for food for five people per day, and say you arbitrarily increased that figure to say PHP300 per day, or roughly PHP20 per meal per person (that’s the minimum budget I use for a feeding program we sponsor), then a shocking 60-70% of all Filipino citizens would fall below that threshold. That’s 60-70 MILLION citizens would be eating LESS than that amount/value of food on a daily basis. Good grief. Take a pause, and think again, 60-70 million FILIPINOS eating less than PHP20 worth of food at breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day of their lives. That’s the cost of a can of diet coke OR two sticks of banana cue OR 100 grams of ground pork OR half a kilo of rice OR 1.5 fresh coconuts OR 2 small galunggong… And in theory, that amount must include your gas, charcoal or firewood, the depreciation on your cooking unit and utensils, the dishes you eat off, the soap to wash them, etc. Good frigging grief.

And food is estimated to make up 60% of a poor person’s basket of minimum goods, so about PHP120 or so is allocated to the “poor family” for transport, housing, clothing, soap, electricity, school expenses, etc. And no, tobacco, liquor and lotto tickets aren’t even included there. So basically, let’s just cut the crap and say while the “philippine (and global) poverty threshold” says 28% of our citizens are poor, the reality is that some 50-60-70% of the population is probably a far more accurate take on who is “poor or dirt poor or extremely poor”. Here is a great presentation by Leland de la Cruz of Ateneo that says it clearly, and note the last slide that shows what people say they feel are “poor”… roughly 50+% self-rate themselves in that category. Forget a “decent life”… we are talking about minimal subsistence. And if you go back to my old post on poverty, where my personal take on a decent lower middle class life was defined as income of PHP50,000 per month for a family of five, then only 6-7% of the Philippine population would make that threshold, and 94% would be living below it!

From my old post:

“How much does it take to lead a decent, but probably “lower-middle class” existence? This is just my personal opinion, but for a family of 5, including several younger children, this is MY ESTIMATE of what is needed to lead a lower middle-class existence:

Food and related expenses (5 people x 3 meals a day x 30 days x P50) = P22,500
Shelter (either rent or amortization and upkeep and all utilities of an owned property) = P10,000
Transport/Telecoms (commute to work, no car, possibly motorcycle, load, phones) = P4,000
Education (1 out of 3 kids in modest private school, others in public school, uniforms, books, etc.) = P5,000
Clothing, Personal Hygiene, Other Expenses = P3,000
Medical/Health/Emergency Expenses = P2,000
Other miscellaneous Expenses = P3,000
TOTAL MONTHLY EXPENSES = P50,000 for a family of 5.”

So what does the government consider to be the food that someone just above the poverty threshold is eating and living on with a minimum monthly income of say PHP7,800 or so? See this link, which has a great video and a photo of the suggested breakfast, lunch and dinner. And note the comparison from 2003 to 2012 in side by side photos. Basically, not only is the menu quite sparse, but the actual definition of poor has been tweaked with the effect that it seems improvements in the levels of poverty have occurred. The bottom line, today? Yes, you can eat meals for PHP12 per person per meal per day, but is that sufficient to say you are NO LONGER POOR? I asked our five commissary chefs to come up with meals, and frankly, the best we could do was a bit of sardines, some eggs, lots of veggies, soups with hardly any protein or flavoring in them assuming no msg laden cubes were used, instant noodles, rice in abundance, hardly any fats, etc. So you may not be “poor” by global and Philippine government definition, but geez, you can’t even really say that’s a lower middle class existence, no?

Let’s not beat around the bush, here is the reality:

1. The government sets a “poverty threshold” of say PHP7,800 total income as being the minimum required to escape “poverty” for a family of five. If you use that threshold, then 28% are considered “poor or severely poor”.

2. If, for the sake of intelligent, logical, rational argument, you just tweak that “threshold” to a more reasonable PHP15,000 or so, then some 60-70% of the population would fall below the poverty line.

3. If you are talking “decent existence” and a sort of self-styled “lower-middle class” description, at say PHP50,000 per month for a family of 5, then 94% of the population falls below that. Yikes.

4. Ergo, you would conclude, that the Philippine population in general, is quite POOR. VERY DARNED POOR. Yes, actually ranked 121 out of 181 countries, and that’s using PPP (Purchasing Power Parity). That’s below the Congo, and just above Iraq, Nicaragua and India!

5. Add to that, the extremely sorry state of public and private education, the appalling national test scores, the declining percentage of school age students attending classes, the average size of classes at say what? 50-60 students per teacher? And say 2-3 shifts of students per classroom per day…

6. The incredibly sorry state of malnutrition of our young (some saying 30% of all children from 0-5 years of age are slightly to severely malnourished), whose brains will likely be permanently damaged, and no amount of effort later on will correct this crucial deficiency in intellectual capacity…

6. The declining BUT still rapid population growth rate at 1.87% places us 66th out of say 200 countries, and only behind the most explosive population growth rates in Sub-Saharan Africa and a few other smaller countries, and because we are at practically 100 million people base figure already…

Population Growth Rates, neighboring countries:

China 0.50%
Thailand 0.76%
Vietnam 1.04%
Indonesia 1.45%
Philippines 1.87%

And surprise, surprise, which country has had the slowest relative economic growth rates over the past 10 years?

7. The fact that we are the 12th MOST POPULOUS NATION on earth! And that despite incredible migration of our citizens to other countries in the past 30 years…

8. The relative absence of foreign direct investment into the very crucial areas of manufacturing, agriculture and other key areas, rather than the consumption/service based growth we have experienced. FDI’s into the Philippines are but a small fraction of what Indonesia and Thailand get annually…

9. The lack of jobs, the incredibly high incidence of unemployment and underemployment… And btw, I do NOT BELIEVE that the UNEMPLOYMENT rate in the Philippines is just 7%. I don’t know how they define the rate, nor how they collect the statistics, but based on anecdotal evidence, I have to guess that the unemployment/underemployment rate has to be closer to say 30-40% of the working population of the country…

10. The massive brain drain and diaspora of some of our finest, most aggressive, most intelligent, most risk-taking countrymen who seek a better life in other countries (and who I cannot fault in any way possible for wanting that for their families)…

I could go on, but it’s beyond depressing. But rather than get depressed, get ANGRY! DO SOMETHING!!! The poverty metric is but one tiny tip of a humongously important and potentially deadly poverty/population/education/employment time bomb, whose implications are staggering. We cannot stand by and watch this just unfold, as though we have no ability to change the downward spiral or inevitable path before us…

But first, a reality check. Read this New York Times article on poverty reduction, here. And if you have the time, watch this youtube video of Melinda Gates talking about contraception and birth control and giving people the choice and the access, it is worth watching in its entirety. And read this link, to a CNN article on the difference between China and India and poverty reduction. Thanks to reader RM for sending me these links. Get a Diet Coke, a bag of chips, take a deep breath, and keep reading if you managed to make it this far down…

Before you vote for your senators and other government officials, think good and hard about the following questions:

1. Do they, or have they, exhibited any capacity to understand the issues above, and have they done anything about it?
2. Have they talked at length about any of these critical issues, and have they brought up intelligent solutions or fragments of solutions to overcome these issues? Can they handle a live debate with questions such as these thrown at them?
3. How do they wish to define the term poverty? And are they cognizant of the current state of the Philippine population? What about malnutrition? Other than some mouthed off platitudes at campaign stops?
4. Will they be able to craft, support, shepherd laws/bills/legislation that will help in the solution of of the problems facing our country?
5. What kind of education have they obtained, but more importantly, what will they do for the state of Philippine education? What strategies will they actually employ in the next six years to improve education?
6. Where do they stand on the issue of choice with respect to birth control, family planning, maternal health? Did they, or did the NOT support the passage of the RH Bill? Do they believe the Philippines is overpopulated, just perfectly populated or underpopulated?
7. What are they willing to do to bring the population growth rate down, to educate our youth regarding these issues, and to make the access to birth control more readily available to those who can’t afford it?
8. How will they attract huge increases in FDI or foreign direct investments, into the sectors of manufacturing and agriculture, on the magnitude of say 5-10 times the current levels of FDI? How do we de-emphasize the emphasis on call center jobs, shipping off service labor, etc. rather than more manufacturing and agricultural jobs with lots of local content, economic ripple effects, etc.
9. How do we keep our nation’s best, entice them to stay, reward them and more than that, start to attract many of those who have left to come back home to contribute to nation building?

And that’s just a few of the questions or concerns. Are they honest, is their heart in the right place? Will they hold up to the rigors and demands of the office? Will they be able to handle equally important issues around infrastructure, the judiciary, etc.?

FRANKLY, Mrs. MM’s and my personal list of senators to vote for is a measly 6 names. We have added another 6 names just to make sure other more horrific candidates hopefully don’t win. Pathetic. So our hopes aren’t pinned on the senators and government officials, we hope they will do their best, but EACH and EVERY ONE of us needs to do our part.

Posts such as this one incite some vitriol from those who aren’t on the same wavelength as me, or who feel threatened by discussions such as this. I have often been challenged through comments, private emails, etc. telling me I am full of feces, and that I can’t point to anything I myself have done to justify my writing why others should do more or that we should expect more. So let me enumerate some of the things I/we have done, and I agree it isn’t enough, not considering how dire the situation seems to be. But it is illustrative, and even if we didn’t do this, I still see no reason why I can’t publish my opinion on the issues at hand. But on matters close to our heart:

EDUCATION. Mrs. MM and I helped set up two private but non-profit schools. They are at the highest echelons of what you might call elitist, with the goals of teaching and developing future leaders of this country who have a better understanding of the key issues, who truly want to give back. Yes, many of the students are from the “privileged” classes, however you define them, but at least we are trying to raise them to be cognizant and responsible of their ability to effect change. Over the past 10 years, several thousand students have gone through these schools. And we offer full and partial ride scholarships for those who are unable to cover the tuition fees. MM and Mrs. MM provided funds, but more importantly, thousands of man hours of our time, to help these schools establish themselves. And we did this with about two dozen other committed parents, who each contributed what they could in brain power or money. In addition to that, Mrs. MM have personally or through our family enterprises, contributed to several public schools, either for library or book related issues, renovating classrooms, teacher training, tree planting, sports facilities, etc. These are modest sums, but in retrospect, not that modest at all. They represent a substantial portion of our resources. Finally, despite having only ONE CHILD, we have supported at least a dozen and half students through private schools over the years, from elementary to college, and while many of these kids are offspring of staff or people we know, others were relative strangers. So we have one child, and we helped 18+ others finish their schooling.

POVERTY/HUNGER. Nearly 200,000+ full meals to undernourished public school children over the past 6 years. What started out as a little kernel of an idea, that the Teen was first involved in, turned into a marketmanila sponsored effort, and while contributions from readers covered some of these meals, larger donors like Mamou, family, friends and personal funds covered the rest, and without much fanfare, we consistently provided the meals to hundreds of public school students over the past 6 years. And this year was the last year we will pursue the program, for several reasons. But 200,000+ meals is no joke.

DECENT EMPLOYMENT. In the past 3 years, what started as a bit of a lark, with an intention of providing increased employment opportunities, Zubuchon now employs nearly 200 employees from zero. But what I am most proud off is that they are paid above minimum wage, key personnel share in the profits, they have full benefits and more, receive salaries that get them up to the top 15% of the Philippine population, and we have still managed to stay afloat! If you don’t think this is an achievement, I challenge you all to ask the next waiter or server you come across at a restaurant, particularly a non-Mall restaurant, if they are being paid above minimum wage, if they are contractual or permanent, if they have SSS and other coverage, etc. and if they receive the service charge collected. We have interviewed several hundred applicants for jobs and in their PREVIOUS employment, many at well known companies, they were receiving far less than legally mandated wages, and simply sucking it up or they would be unemployed. So here’s my personal challenge to senatorial candidates and government officials… why don’t you CHECK if companies are paying the right wages? It’s so darned easy to do, and so many appear to be in non-compliance with this. Some folks say we are a bit more expensive at Zubuchon, but I say, we treat our staff with dignity and pay better than most, we have good working conditions, we follow most laws, we have all health clearances, government licenses, etc. AND THAT COSTS MONEY. The public, you and me cannot look the other way and seek cheaper services, if people’s rights are being sacrified or abused. That’s not right. You want to talk FAIR TRADE? Think good and hard about that the next time you eat out. There are some folks I know who really take this to heart, and run their small businesses with heart, but they are few and far between. Besides the restaurant, we have real estate business, and there too we try to employ decently. And to think, I/we are officially “retired”…

BIRTH CONTROL/FAMILY PLANNING. Friends of ours snigger when I relay episodes of my most recent voluntary “birth control” talks or seminars. But I do them every few months for staff on a voluntary basis. I make condoms readily available for FREE, and encourage staff to do whatever they do, but to do it safely and without the risk of pregnancy if that outcome is unplanned or unwanted. I am not always successful, but over the years, I know I have made even a teeny weeny impact. My seminars start out with this question. “How much do you think you will need to raise a child from birth through college if they attend public schools, have decent nourishment, a home over their heads, and can attend school and buy the materials necessary for a decent life?” The answer is roughly PHP2 million pesos today. If you don’t think you are going to earn that, or have it put away, then in a sense, you are bringing a child into this world already handicapped at providing him/her with the most basic of needs. Don’t children have a right to a decent life? But even more controversial, on the idiotic claim that providing birth control promotes promiscuity, I can tell you from overseeing hundreds of employees, that MOST staff from 19 to 29 years have already produced offspring, are majority (say 70-80%) unmarried either civilly or in church, and many of them have already gone onto second or third relationships, etc. In other words, THEY ARE PROMISCUOUS already, and I won’t make a judgment call on that, just that if they want to, they need to engage in safer sex, period. Wake up folks, THIS IS THE REALITY. And even more shocking, some reports suggest that there are up to 400,000 ILLEGAL ABORTIONS in the Philippines per year (90’s data), a staggering statistic that needs no more elaboration.

Yes, I agree, these are really small things… But imagine if 10,000 people did the same? What if 20,000 people managed to start businesses that provided decent employment to 200 people (and who flow-through to 1,000 citizens), that would mean 4 million decent jobs, and flow through to 20 million citizens! Or if 30,000 people and organizations provided 50,000 meals per year for malnourished children, that would be 1.5 billion meals, enough to feed 1.37 million people EVERY DAY three full meals for the entire year! Or what if we took the time to counsel 100 people a year about their CHOICES with respect to birth control, and what responsible parenting might entail, what impact would 50,000 of us doing that have every year? There’s a part of me that wonders if providing 200,000 meals to malnourished children was a smarter use of funds than say providing a million condoms or the equivalent in other birth control methods. So it isn’t impossible, but the task is MONUMENTAL. If we all did our part, then maybe, just maybe we would see our prospects turn around in our lifetimes. But drastic steps are necessary. Population and birth control needs to be on the agenda. Education needs to be on the agenda. Decent and better and broader employment needs to be on the agenda. And that’s just a tip of the iceberg…




  1. Joan says:

    The most insightful, realistic and intelligent piece I have come across in quite a while…I hope every reader takes this to heart and do their part. Wise and informed voting is a start! ( proud to be part of #3! :) )

    May 6, 2013 | 3:24 pm


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  3. lee says:

    shared this post via Facebook.

    May 6, 2013 | 3:52 pm

  4. GT says:

    MM, I suggest you get a copy of “Lee Kuan Yew, the Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World” Interviews and Selections by Graham Allison and Robert Blackwill, with Ali Wyne, foreword by Henry Kissinger. One may not always agree with him but one cannot disagree when he talks about what fundamentals are required in building strong and stable state institutions which will be an anchor of growth, from which catalysts like entrepreneurs, private sector, and civil society can proceed to do their thing. I believe that if the structure of the state institutions is not changed these will continue to generate the self-perpetuative political results they need. Just like in a corporate rehab not only do people get changed but the whole structure in order to adapt to the changed circumstances. Its not likely to happen here in the near future because of the publics’ indifference to the core role of state institutions. Additionally if people don’t realize it then it is the duty of their public leaders to explain to them the need for such a change, but unfortunately elected public officials are unlikely to do so because the system benefits them. Maybe someday the public will mature and be able to level up, even in a small way,
    on the scope of their civic knowledge.

    Great Post, Cheers!!


    May 6, 2013 | 5:03 pm

  5. JE says:

    This coming election is depressing for me, as there’s probably just a handful of senators I’d even consider voting for. Most of them are either just someone’s relative/child, or has shown very little in the way of being smart/informed with regard to public policy and the current state of the country. It’s a telling sign that things aren’t great if you’re being forced to vote for people just because you don’t want the worse candidates to win.

    May 6, 2013 | 5:12 pm

  6. ami says:

    You got 6 names? I can only come up with 2!

    Coincidentally, the Live Below the Line Challenge just ended last week. It’s an awareness campaign where people are asked to live off of $1.50 a day for food for 5 days to get people to experience what it’s like for those who live below the poverty line. They should make it mandatory for those running for public office to do this challenge!

    May 6, 2013 | 5:20 pm

  7. Eileen Y says:

    Funny but I have just been reading this book by Mother Teresa and I came across her quote:
    ” He made us not just to be a number in the world. He made us with a purpose. “

    May 6, 2013 | 5:21 pm

  8. Jessie says:

    Thank you for this frank and realistic assessment of the state of the majority in the country. Shared on facebook too.

    May 6, 2013 | 7:04 pm

  9. general x says:

    mm, any chance of you running for president? you’re probably more qualified than most of the people who ran in the last 2 or 3 presidential elections.

    kaya pala nagkanda milk milk na tayo at kung sinu-sino binoboto, puro tayo gutom at malnourished; literally wala sa tamang pag iisip.

    May 6, 2013 | 7:31 pm

  10. JJeanne says:

    Marketman, if I may respectfully say so I believe we Filipinos can beat poverty by passionately encouraging the solution of Muhammad Yunus which most people know by now as the Grameen Bank of microfinance. It is powerful and empowering on all levels. I’m sorely disappointed it hasn’t been given much focus as much as the government dole outs.

    Thank you for the beautiful and heart-rendering post by the way.

    May 6, 2013 | 9:12 pm

  11. Thel from Florida says:

    Tunay na nakakalungkot na ang mahal kong bansa ay napakarami ang hindi muna iniisip kung ano ang mangyayari kung sige-sige lang ang pag-aanak nila. Mahirap na nga tapos ang dami pang mag-anak, siempre–poverty ang resulta. Tapos ang gobyerno ang sisisihin o aasahan. Dinadasal ko na sana ang lahat ng schools simula grade 5 or grade 6 ay simulan na ang pagpapayo sa lahat ng mga students na sana ay unang isipin na kawawa ang magiging anak nila kung walang family planning.
    MM, Bless your heart always for being so generous with your time and money, specially this site–Gob Bless!

    May 6, 2013 | 10:16 pm

  12. sophie says:

    shared via Facebook, thank you MM for this eye opener.

    May 7, 2013 | 12:21 am

  13. Khew says:

    What is the level of corruption in the Philippines and how pervasive? Corruption is very disruptive and affects everything directly or indirectly resulting in a downtrodden general population which pays the price.

    May 7, 2013 | 12:30 am

  14. Shawn says:

    Dear MM,
    What a wonderful and surprising,to me,post.The Philippines needs to address these issues so desperately. In my only visit last year I saw a great deal of poverty and also noted how businesses hire many employees when fewer would do.Here in the US staffing is almost always at the bare minimum,in the Philippines double the number needed is common,at least in the service industry.I assume this is due to the awareness that there are lots of folks willing to work for very little. Since my visit I have tried to educate myself about the Philippines and the issues the country is facing,your great website is a part of that,and I find myself saddened to see how little progress is being made. When my father and family lived in the Philippines in the 1920s and 1930s the population was around 16 million people,now it is over 6 times that. As you point out the amount of money required to lift the 60-75 million filipinos out of poverty is staggering.I send money to one family in Northern Samar but I wish I could do more. MM you mention you are ending the school lunch program,too much red tape? Thanks again for the thought provoking post.

    May 7, 2013 | 2:22 am

  15. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    I was wondering where you were going with your poll on IQ. As someone who was born and raised and admittedly, never been to the Philippines, I can appreciate your ire with the current (and lasting) situation. International headlines had so much hope for the Philippines more than 20 years ago at the time of the EDSA revolution. But keep in mind to our curiosity here in the US that there would be a People Power II, People Power III and so on. Despite marginal economic growth in the early 90’s, the Philippines seemed to stall at the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo and the eventual vacancy of Clark AFB and Subic Bay. While we can explain the vacancy of the US military with the end of the Cold War and mother nature, it was really hard (and still is) to explain the Philippines’ state of malaise. The usual example is the Philippine ranking in Asia as compared to China, Vietnam and India. All three are experiencing domestic growth, and are contributing to the economic and talent pool at the international level. So it begs the question. Just WTF is wrong with the Philippines? Or is it the Filipino?

    I can relate to your experience managing your blog and the reactionary that you get. But I look at that as something good. You know, at least we’re talking about it. But as Filipinos, we would rather gild the lilly as opposed to having a frank discussion about the issues. To talk openly and rationally is falsely seen a social taboo. You know, the avoid shame thing. But is it not more shameful to let the problem go on? Really, what is wrong with dialogue?

    We need to look beyond the usual causalities (ie/ history, corruption, colonization, etc) and really think outside the box.

    May 7, 2013 | 2:29 am

  16. tet says:

    I shared this article on my fb. It is alarming indeed. Just to let you know, UP at Los Banos has compiled a list of OCW or OpenCourseWare -https://itc.uplb.edu.ph/index.php/resources/open-courseware. This is on-line learning for higher education that is offered FREE by Stanford, MIT etc. Sana maraming maka-alam para naman hindi maging hopeless ang ating kabataan. Although some of these courses are difficult.. I just tried one ( Machine Learning), sa dami ng internet cafe… ang gustong mag-aral ay gagawa ng paraan. You can put the courses taken on one’s resume for job application. But of course dapat lang maging honest, kasi if you lie na hindi talaga nag-aral – one is bound to get caught. I really like what you put together.. just in time for the elections!

    May 7, 2013 | 6:58 am

  17. tet says:

    can I add more? http://www.khanacademy.org is K-12 offering ( from kindergarten to grade 7 ). It is supported by Bill and Melinda Gates and Google. Para sa ating munting mag-aaral… in the news over here… they call this Education Revolution. Noong araw na mahirap ang telephono.. the advent of cell phone was a breakthrough in the Philippines, ganun din ang internet and social media – well connected ang mga Pinoy… ang dasal ko gaya ng iba ay gamitn ang technology for improving one’s life… there is SO MUCH information in the internet… from hydrophonics, aquaphonics – these are tools to be self-sufficient sa food; there is also solar cooker … at kung meron lang nga akong oras at funds.. I would have established e-trike which I know some people already started over there… the largest cost of food is tranportation; either you grow your own or decrease cost and facilitate moverment of food! PCARRD at Los Banos gives seminar on worm composting or vermicomposting (http://vermiculture2010.blogspot.ca/2010/01/vermiculture-and-vermicomposting-in.html); si Pat Acosta of Baguio was one of my classmates and is an advocate of organic farming… ang dami talagang resources, ang daming Phd sa UP pero the flow of knowledge is stucked in the academe or selected few … there should be a mandatory training for those living in poverty … walang kasing nag-tuturo and moreover… this is related to Agricultural Extension.. which I think is very weak ! Ayan I got carried away…. ( I apologize)

    May 7, 2013 | 7:21 am

  18. Mart says:

    Everyone that votes thinks that voting will change things. Everyone that votes, hopes for the best then does nothing after voting. Everyone relies on other people (i.e. the people they voted into office) to change things.

    Nothing is going to change people.

    No one voted into government will be able to help. Even if they wanted to. If you are a good guy going into government, you will definitely be approached to be involved in the shady deals behind the curtain. If you don’t play along, things won’t be nice for you.

    To avoid this, there needs to be transparency for all government officials. But good luck trying to pass a law to increase transparency.

    People are stuck in the paradigm that they people they vote into office are their overlords. It should be the other way around; we voted them into office so they work for us.

    Do you want one of your employees to have a side line, thus not concentrating on the work he/she was hired for? Government employees should have no other job/business other that their government position.

    If they are in the government they work for the public. To avoid corruption, everything needs to be transparent; bank accounts, and any all money going in and out of them. Everything needs to be accounted for.

    But then again, good luck with that. Nothing will change. The sheer number of ignorant people stuck in a paradigm of “evil overlord government official is my master because he is in a position of governemnt” will prevent and good change for manifesting.

    Oh and Bill and Melinda Gates are the same Gates who are all for vaccines that sterilize people and who also support GMO crops. So I’m not too enamored of those two people that are part of the 1%.

    May 7, 2013 | 8:33 am

  19. Jaime Recuenco says:

    Very timely MM thanks for this very educational post. However, educating the electorate is the biggest challenge for our country to really move forward or leap farther

    May 7, 2013 | 9:24 am

  20. Khew says:

    Well said, Mart!

    May 7, 2013 | 9:44 am

  21. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    So Khew and Mart, what do you propose then? Yes its painfully obvious that there should be transparency in government. But how do you initiate the practice in a society that has a cultural value on modesty? Because the fact of the matter is that it is also ignorant to make blanket statements and point fingers. What we’re looking for is solutions. While its easy to cite the 1% for whatever that means, its another to digest the facts and find viable solutions to them.

    May 7, 2013 | 9:56 am

  22. JB says:

    MM, this post reminds me why you’re my hero. If my wife and I could do just a tenth of what you and your wife have done for this country, then I can die knowing that I’ve led a fulfilling life. You’re truly an inspiration.

    May 7, 2013 | 11:01 am

  23. Noel Q. says:

    Wonderful post! Great insight! Shared this on my fb page.

    May 7, 2013 | 11:06 am

  24. David Carl Grimes says:

    If you look at the bright side of things, if you’re part of the upper 6% of Philippine Society, then a static poverty rate guarantees you a constant supply of cheap labor to serve as your maids, cooks, drivers, gardeners, and yayas that enable you to live more relaxed and stress free lifestyle. If you’re from the upper 1%, then you have a constant supply of cheap labor that will be quick to do your bidding because there are no other jobs out there. What I’m saying is that the people with the power to change things (those with the money, connections, and smarts) have little or no inclination to change things because it goes against their economic self interest. If you’re sitting pretty on the economic ladder, then lower poverty rates could mean higher wages that could depress profit margins. Higher capital formation or better access to credit might mean more competition for the markets you are invested in. What we need is someone who is a “Traitor to his Class” in the same way that the two Roosevelts, Franklin and Theodore, were. These two were known for pushing for reforms such as busting up the trusts (Theodore) or reforming Wall Street with the creation of the SEC or creating a social safety net (Franklin) that were inimical to the economic self interest of the class they belonged to but were better for the country as a whole. In some ways, Noynoy was a bit like that by pushing for the RH Bill and defying the wishes of the clergy that helped propel his family into power in 1986. Is it enough? Certainly not. But it’s a start. One thing that we as a nation have neglected to do was harness the power of the OFW in building the economy, especially in the creation of businesses that will create more jobs that will reduce overall poverty. OFW remittances, at something north of $20 billion a year, constitutes 10% of of GDP. It certain dwarfs Net Direct Foreign Investment, which has been hobbling along at less than 1% of GDP. Much of the OFW money has gone into consumption to meet the basic economic needs of OFW families. A lot of OFW savings have gone into real estate, either to meet basic housing needs or as a hedge against chronic inflation, or simply because the OFWs are not familiar with or are wary of other investment alternatives such as the stock market. But real estate investment, aside from the construction jobs that go with it, does not create a lot of jobs on an ongoing basis, especially once construction has been completed. I may be wrong, but the multiplier effect of real estate has been low. Other sectors, such as manufacturing, or service oriented industries create many more jobs. We have to find a way to divert or match OFW savings to more business and job formation. What’s worse is that the economy’s dependence on OFW money has created some sort of mendicant society. What’s worse, we are now even more vulnerable to the ups and downs of the World Economy. If the World Economy continues to slow down on a global scale, then our economy could be in significant trouble in the near future. Read “OFW Remittances: Boon or Bane?” http://systemisbroken.blogspot.com/2012/03/ofw-remittances-boon-or-bane.html

    May 7, 2013 | 11:32 am

  25. Khew says:

    Getter Dragon 1: The whole premise and argument here is that there are no real solutions, at least not macro ones. Primarily, what can be done is for individuals to take self responsibility to the best of their abilities. Secondarily is what people like MM & gang are doing.
    Using myself as an example( I’m living in Malaysia ), I’ve been:
    – curbing basic food and expenses to around US$100 per month or so on purpose to see how it feels and to explore the possibility of living relatively well on that. I’ve been doing so for the past 6 months. I’ve learnt creativity, techniques, how little one actually needs and improved my health in the process.
    – growing some food to see if it can be done purely organically and with recycled items. I’ve learnt creativity, about how amazing terra preta is and experienced a little of what it’s like to be off grid. It feels empowering.
    – for the past 6 months, cleaning myself without soap and shampoo but using baking soda instead( so little of it is needed! ). I’ve learnt that I don’t need to be a slave to “products” and in the process, yes you guessed it, became healthier.

    Now if every individual took self responsibility seriously, you will soon find many problems rendered irrelevant and wonder why they were problems in the first place.

    May 7, 2013 | 11:37 am

  26. elaine says:

    This is a good read: ‘Confessions of An Economic Hit Man’ by John Perkins.


    May 7, 2013 | 11:51 am

  27. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    Khew – So what is an example of a macro solution that could/could not work? Yes, personal responsibility is one and altruistic venture is another. I proposed open dialogue in my comments. Because basically what I see in the Philippines is a whole lot of disconnect. But what accounts for so much of the dispora? Clanism? Elitism? A co-dependency of religion, specifically a Filipino interpretation of Christianity and the Catholic Church? So instead of fluffing up the problem and then sweeping it under the rug, what can we do about it?

    With the upcoming elections, there is sort of a push for overseas voting. Unfortunately for the Filipinos able to vote and living in the US are not motivated to vote because of inconvenenience or lack of interest. The latter could be broken down even further, but I’ll save that for later.

    May 7, 2013 | 12:16 pm

  28. Yette says:

    Thanks MM for this post. I was waiting for your post these past few days and you came up with such an insightful one. This basically points to our core issues. I too believe that Education is one of the most important factors that our government should look into. Aside from this adult generation, I sincerely hope that through education we’ll be able to instill the proper mindset amongst our young.

    May 7, 2013 | 12:19 pm

  29. Fred says:

    One of the best articles I’ve read about our sorry state of affairs. Thank you for writing this MM. Will share it.

    May 7, 2013 | 1:11 pm

  30. Leo Salinel says:

    I agree very much with your observations. The Philippines has been the posterboy for pure, unbridled ‘trickle down economics’ capitalism in which 80% of the national wealth is controlled by only 10% of its population, consisting of a minority of rich families, many of them entrenched firmly in political power on both the national and local levels. I think the answers to our questions are sufficiently answered by the “Damaged Culture” article that appeared in US newspapers around the late 80’s, explaining how Filipinos could tolerate generations of abuse and servility to a few families who have all the financial and political ability to transform the country but couldn’t care less, as long as they lived well within their high walls and took their occasional trips abroad. Corruption is one of the ills plaguing our society, but if we go to the root causes I would point to one root cause as being our cultural animosity towards self-development and love for gaiety and levity even when unwarranted. We would rather be “porma” and “masaya” than substantial.

    May 7, 2013 | 2:02 pm

  31. Khew says:

    Getter Dragon 1:
    “So what is an example of a macro solution that does not work?”
    – Education without job opportunities, legislation without enforcement…..ad nauseum.

    “What accounts for so much of the diaspora?”
    – Lack of opportunities.

    “Instead of fluffing up the problem and then sweeping it under the rug, what can we do about it?”
    – Each individual has to take personal responsibility. It starts and grows from there. It ranges from something as simple as quitting smoking to something more elaborate like the Zubuchon story. Together you form the “we” which forms the community which forms the region which forms the country and culture. Eventually, international sentiments will change from “Yeah, what can you expect from those Pinoys” to “Wow, it’s all Filipino!” Expatriate Filipinos will be seen as desirable migrants instead of economic opportunists.

    Meanwhile, the global banking and financial system plays an insidious role in the bigger scheme of things which affects every nation including the Philippines. Here’s a glimpse: http://bullmarketthinking.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/552013hudes.mp3

    May 7, 2013 | 3:04 pm

  32. j. says:

    The problem with saying, we need to take personal responsibility is that not everyone wants to take personal responsibility. We can all say that there is a lack of opportunity, but a majority of those that I know personally, do not stay, because of a lack of drive within a certain segment of the country -among other things, including a gaping lack of good infrastructure and a huge and largely corrupt bureaucracy. Many of the Filipino poor remain poor, not because of ignorance, but because they believe that the government itself is NOT going to change. Just look at the educational standards that the poor are getting. A neighbor once told me, “kasi, masmabuti na meron, kahit palpak, kesa wala.”

    May 7, 2013 | 3:41 pm

  33. Rochelle says:

    Thank you MM, this is very insightful. Kasi mostly sa pinapakita dito abroad is yung hindi nakikita behind the scenes, they are saying in the media that our economy is growing and poverty is declining, when in fact hindi pala, sad :(

    May 7, 2013 | 4:24 pm

  34. Gigi says:

    Technology will be a positive force in improving education. The MOCCs like Coursera are now offering free training programs to teachers.
    On a separate note, I shuddered when I read Credit Suisse projects our gambling industry to be bigger than SG and MY combined in several years time, largely on the strength of our young population. Are we going to raise a nation of gamblers?

    May 7, 2013 | 7:54 pm

  35. onix says:

    kasi naman napansin ko ang gobierno natin mahilig sa PPP: Puro PowerPoint Presentation, Puro-Pagandang Papogi Points; Puros Planong Proyekto… ayan Puro Pahirap at Poverty pa rin ang Pinas! Mabuti pa magluto na lang ako ng Adobo ala Marketman! Tiyak more than 2000 calories an makakain ko ngayon…. buuurrpppp!

    May 7, 2013 | 8:43 pm

  36. MP says:

    Thanks for this MM. My family and I have been debating about the names to add to our list and have used a number of issues as our selection guide which sort of mirror yours. So far, we have 5 candidates we will definitely vote for but, like you and Mrs MM, we have agreed to fill all the slots just so that the ones that we feel must not win, won’t.

    My husband and I work for a humanitarian/development intergovernmental agency and have seen poverty firsthand not only in the Philippines but in many countries, as well. Our country’s saving grace is our human resources but our curse is our people who are readily swayed by empty promises and do not expect and require high moral and ethical standards from our government officials and civil servants.

    As a taxpayer, I find it horribly insulting and tragic that the majority of those surveyed (if true) accept promises of being Nanay de Pamilya, Pagkain sa Hapag, Trabaho sa bawat mamamayan and a host of other unrealistic goals and actually consider voting for those that promise them the world, the moon, the stars.. isn’t it so ironic that our gift is also our curse?

    May 7, 2013 | 8:58 pm

  37. Lissa says:

    There are no easy solutions to our problems, but I do agree MM that we, as a people, should do SOMETHING. I’m proud there are Filipinos like you who, despite all the chances to abandon ship, actually rolled up your sleeves to ACT. I’m always worried/appalled about the kind of politics here in the Philippines (think of the Erap/Lim debate, for instance) but pieces like this really underscore the dearth of intelligent discourse and compassionate problem-solving — within the government and otherwise — our country needs.

    May 7, 2013 | 11:45 pm

  38. shiko-chan says:

    Bravo and thank you, MM, not least for making the time and effort to produce yet another important, well-written, and *gasp* reference-citing post! Shared on FB.

    May 8, 2013 | 12:29 am

  39. netoy says:

    Thanks MM for this insightful article.

    Here’s another link about the current state of our economy;


    May 8, 2013 | 1:19 am

  40. Mart says:

    @Getter Dragon 1
    I can understand your frustration. Here I come on this board to make a comment that nothing good can come out of voting and you take personal offense with the idea that voting accomplishes nothing. I’ve been there before. Yes it is frustrating to feel so helpless.

    I once was emotionally attached to the idea that voting was a viable activity to participate in to solve the nation’s problems. That somehow, with some luck, some pure hearted individual would run for office, get elected and save the nation from itself. We as Filipinos are practically indoctrinated with this idea from birth with our Roman Catholic upbringing; an individual came to us in the past and cleansed us of our original sin and will, someday, come again to rescue our poor sorry souls.

    When one grows up, one realizes that it doesn’t work that way. You have to save yourself. But there will be help when you need it and ask for it. But I digress.

    The current economic and political system is structured in such a way that it will always attract pathological/sociopathic individuals to the top echelons. These people have zero concern for the rest of the people at the bottom of the food chain/pyramid.
    If, by chance, there is an individual that truly cares for the people, he/she will be corrupted by the system. If the system finds the individual incorruptible, he/she will be rendered ineffective. Although murder would be a last resort, it is not uncommon for this method to be used if the individual could not be rendered ineffective (think Ninoy or JFK).
    (By “the system”, I mean not only the corrupt people already in government but also the large monied interests that play the puppet strings of the people in government.)

    This reality could not be accepted by most because of the indoctrination of the savior story and because the reality of the situation is too depressing to believe. Yes it really is hopeless. The sooner one can accept this, the sooner one is divorced from lala-land fantasies that voting could possibly make a difference. And the sooner one can think more clearly and objectively and study the situation objectively and unemotionally.

    It is like how a wildlife scientist studies animals in the wild. A common person happening upon a scene where a hyena is preying on a baby sheep would be emotionally moved to save the baby sheep. The wildlife scientist, while working, is emotionally divorced from that kind of cultural programming and understands that this is how the world in the wild works; the predator feeds on its prey and what is being witnessed is a natural consequence of how the ecosystem works.

    I am not claiming that I have the answers. As I previously posted, I proposed parts of the problem that need fixing (i.e. more transparency) but how to get there, I do not know.

    One of the other problems is most of the voting public is ignorant. They do believe that voting is a viable activity that could initiate change for their lot. Most voters are easily swayed by lavish campaigns, entertainment prestige of candidates that were previously stars of the entertainment business, or paltry gifts of cash or goods while on the campaign trail.
    Those that do know how to measure up a candidate are a small fraction of the population.
    How do you educate the rest of the population, to teach them how to measure up a candidate? I don’t know.

    There could very well be 6 individuals in the current roster of candidates that could possible make a difference. This is another problem. How do you increase the number of good candidates in elections? You need money for that. So, really, the game is rigged from the start. To be a viable candidate come election time, you need money. Those that spend lavish amounts of money to have the masses elect them into office are certainly not doing it for the good of the people. Those candidates already have a plan on how to recoup their investment.

    Information is a powerful tool. Information can shape an individual’s decisions. With the proper information, one could make informed choices. Where do most people get their information? From TV, newspapers, radio. Who owns these media outlets? Follow the money.

    If I were to propose a solution, I would probably pursue the individuals who wield an enormous amount of influence on the masses; the actors and actresses of the entertainment industry.
    The first order of business is to get MM’s information in this post to the artistas. Try to make them care about the plight of their adoring fans rather than petty squabbles in-fighting among their kind.
    Try to make them agree to try out living like one of their fans for a week, or even a month. Make a series out of it so it is not a “one-off” special report that gets forgotten. Make it a series like the teleseryes that the masses so adore.
    The information needs to be hammered. The hammering needs to be constant. Otherwise it will be drowned out by the rest of the pedestrian offerings on other channels and other timeslots. Remember, you have decades of programming to fight off; programming that the masses have accepted their lot in life, that things are like this and nothing will change.

    I don’t know. One can dream right? I’ll have to think this over some more and see what other ideas might pop up after my post.

    May 8, 2013 | 1:58 am

  41. Marketman says:

    Netoy, thanks for that link! A good article, and funny how it covers many of the same things, but in different ways. Obviously, some people have the same views on recent news, data, etc. and it seemed right to publish something in the last few days…

    May 8, 2013 | 6:36 am

  42. Dreaming says:

    Excellent! Well written. Putting it on FB.

    May 8, 2013 | 7:16 am

  43. kristin says:

    MM, thanks for this very insightful post.. i will repost in my fb wall as food for thought for my friends and acquaintances back home who will be making the vote this election.

    May 8, 2013 | 10:06 am

  44. Betchay says:

    Very thought provoking…thanks MM! You are a very good writer.

    May 8, 2013 | 1:38 pm

  45. EJ says:

    Thanks for this excellent post, MM. Have shared this with relatives and friends – but, alas, that’s like preaching to the choir. Mart’s suggestion to use artistas to spread the message is a good one. Let’s hope that they also come up with solutions in the process. Maybe you can forward his suggestion to Jessica Soho?

    May 8, 2013 | 3:03 pm

  46. Super.me says:

    Hats off to you and your fam for all the little abd big things you’ve done! I hope each of us, your readers, can do our little share too in “making this world a better place.”

    I share in your belief that every little deed could be “compounded” and have a domino effect.

    Oh my, i still don’t have any name on my senatorial list.

    May 8, 2013 | 9:05 pm

  47. marilen says:

    Thank you, MM for being passionate about the things that really matter. Had to step back and reflect after reading your sobering assessment of poverty in the Philippines. We each do our best anyway we can – my own personal effort of helping family, katulong – on rare visits to the Philippines. Thank you again for your commitment to helping others less fortunate. God bless you.

    May 8, 2013 | 9:26 pm

  48. marilen says:

    Thank you, MM for being passionate about the things that really matter. Had to step back and reflect after reading your sobering assessment of poverty in the Philippines. We each do our best anyway we can – my own personal effort of helping faithfully family, katulong – on rare visits to the Philippines. Thank you again for your commitment to helping others less fortunate. God bless you.

    May 8, 2013 | 9:27 pm

  49. Mart says:

    Regarding inflation, I’m not sure how the Philippine government calculates it’s figures for inflation but here in the US, the officially reported inflation is calculated somewhat like this:

    Say you start off buying steak for dinner but after prices increase your spending habits change and, to stretch your dollar further food-wise, you substitute steak for chicken.
    So although steak saw an increase of 20%, you substituted it for chicken which only saw a 5% increase, inflation food-wise doesn’t rise as much.
    Neat accounting trick, no?
    Also, the items considered in calculating for inflation changes year by year or every couple of years. I’m not sure how long ago it was that they did away with utilities (electricity and gas) so inflation could be reported lower than it actually is.

    Regarding unemployment, we have the same magic accounting tricks. I’m not sure how it is calculated in the Philippines but it probably takes a page from how the US does it.
    Basically, if you’re not looking for work, you’re not officially counted towards an unemployed person. If you’ve just been recently unemployed, you have a certain time period where you collect unemployment benefits while you’re looking for work. Once the unemployment benefits stop (either you can’t prove that you’re actively looking for work or the time period when can still collect unemployment benefits runs out) you are no longer counted as unemployed.
    (see the section “Hidden unemployment”)

    Government has really evolved into a bane to its people. Have you heard about the Japanese government raising the permissible levels of exposure to radiation so life can continue as usual even after the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdowns and subsequent nuclear fallout?

    So with even such a high-profile public event happening, you’d probably imagine that the Japanese people would all be up in arms and pressuring the Japanese government to backtrack on the increase in radiation exposure limits and shutdown all the nuclear plants in Japan.
    But life goes on like normal. It is business as usual. The nuclear plants were shutdown for a time but some were turned back on after some time had passed.

    If Japan’s general public couldn’t be bothered to be united against its government which is clearly not looking out for its people’s best interests, what more with the poverty in the Philippines which is everywhere you turn? We Filipinos have gotten so good at blotting out the reality of poverty from our brains to lead “normal” lives.

    There was some news here in the US about a congresswoman who tried to live on the foodstamp allowance.
    And after doing the above google search, apparently another congressman did it as well.

    But again, these are one-off events. They garnered some publicity but after it is over and they return to their normal lives, so do the viewers. Out of sight, out of mind.

    Well, not really out of sight for most people. A lot of people in Manila see it every day on their daily commutes but compartmentalize it, blot it out. Like wallpaper, you know it is there but you give little to no attention to it anymore.

    I’m no psychology expert but the way I see it is before people can reach the point of being so angry about the poverty situation, they must bottom out from depression. The full reality of the situation must sink in to the point of debilitating paralysis from depression/helplessness before anger can come in and fuel change.

    But most people prevent themselves from letting the whole reality sink in. It is just too much to handle. It would be impossible to continue living the illusion of a normal life smack dab in the middle of poverty if the reality of the situation is fully internalized.

    Can you imagine the entertainment industry grinding to a halt and not producing any rom-coms or teleseryes until every single individual in the Philippines is food secure? Seems ridiculous right?
    But for a family in poverty, priorities need to be made. You feed your family first then if you have any money left over, you spend it on clothes, a roof over your heads, utilities, etc. Then if you still have any money left over, that’s when you go to the movies. Doesn’t sound so ridiculous now, does it?

    Anyway, I am probably talking to myself here in the comments section. It seems the discussion was more lively back in MM’s post about the RH bill.
    Kudos to MM for a very detailed post. More discussion and brainstorming is needed but MM’s post is a very, very good start.

    May 9, 2013 | 1:40 am

  50. migs says:

    Hi MM!

    Excellent article! By the way, you mentioned about the average IQ in Philippines being quite low and the possible relationship of that to the current quality of our public education system. My take on that is more on the effects of environment (nutrition, stimulation, etc) to the child’s brain and to the eventual manifestation and practice of his cognition. Empirically, Intelligence Quotient has no consistent correlation with academic peformance. There are people with High IQ but does not perform well in school or you may have high academic performers but with only average IQ. But there is no doubt that our public education system desperately needs an overhaul.

    May 9, 2013 | 1:43 am

  51. Mart says:

    Regarding “doing something”, I am not a “mover and shaker”/”take initiative” type of guy like MM has demonstrated. I, like most other people, would rather donate to a cause that someone has already started. Like MM’s food drives.

    I have a regular donation subscription to our county’s collection of food banks, part of the network of Feeding America; a $1 donation provides up to 8 meals.
    A donation to Feeding America is a better “bang for the buck” than buying canned goods at retail then donating. A lot of supermarket donations to Feeding America are canned goods that have expiry dates that are months away so, for tax purposes, it would be more economically sensible for the supermarket to donate the food to the charity and do a tax write-off for the donation.
    This is part of the reason why a $1 monetary donation to Feeding America could translate to up to 8 meals provided to those in need; a significant chunk of the $1 goes towards transportation costs; transporting the food donated by the supermarket to the food bank.

    I’m not sure if there is something similar in the Philippines. If anyone knows, please post some links/references. “Charity begins at home” as the saying goes and I’d also like to donate to a similar outfit in the Philippines if such an organization exists.

    Another site I “donate” to is Kiva (http://kiva.org) which provides micro loans to people who want to start a business. You can specify geographical locations and industry types to support. There are several organizations/coops in the Philippines that leverage kiva.org to provide loans to small business entrepreneurs in the Philippines (e.g. starting a sari-sari store).

    Loans made to Kiva are interest free though a donation to Kiva is also made to cover costs for handling the money (i.e. the logistics of money transfers costs money). Also, the coops that operate on Kiva could probably also charge interest/get a cut of the money as part of their operating costs.
    Read the fine print but do check it out as an option to “do something”.

    I put “donate” in quotes because the the loans are paid back to my Kiva account then the money is loaned out again (automatically) to someone else looking for a loan on Kiva.

    May 9, 2013 | 3:10 am

  52. Gigi says:

    Thanks for your insights. I shared it on my FB

    May 9, 2013 | 6:29 am

  53. terrey says:

    i think there is some pressure applied to the developing countries (not only the Philippine government) to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 that is reducing the poverty incidence by half. the world bank reported that poverty in Pinas (earning less than 1.25 PPP a day) is 30.7% in 1991 and it was 18.4% in 2009 – with these numbers Pinas is so close to achieving the MDG goal #1 by 2015 but we all know that it is far from the reality of what is happening at home. God bless the Philippines!

    thanks for the insightful blog, MM!

    May 9, 2013 | 11:30 am

  54. Joseph Edward O. Idemne says:

    Thank you. This is most insightful. Can we format this so that it will be easy to send via email or facebook? thanks. Sorry. Just scrolled up and loaded it on facebook. Let’s see the reactions.

    May 9, 2013 | 4:15 pm

  55. Joseph Edward O. Idemne says:

    Sorry, just went up and loaded it on my facebook. Will circulate more as a discussion item. Thanks.

    May 9, 2013 | 4:19 pm

  56. Jessie says:

    Hi MM, posted this on fb too, hope it’s okay with you.

    May 10, 2013 | 10:07 am

  57. bobot says:

    Any interest in politics? Would vote for you.

    May 10, 2013 | 3:59 pm

  58. Mel says:

    Ah, finally! Someone gets it and is actually doing something about the poverty crisis. God bless you and your family for helping our countrymen.

    May 10, 2013 | 10:05 pm

  59. Bobv says:

    Just some more sad commentary to your excellent piece:

    The salaried Filipinos are the most tax burdened people in the planet. Consider:
    About 20% of salary is withheld for income taxes plus more for SS, medicare and etc.
    Also, 12% VAT is added to most purchases.
    And added to the insult, Filipinos pay tolls for roads that should have been built by the government from taxes collected.

    May 11, 2013 | 6:58 am

  60. Danny says:

    If you look at this comparative daily wages in southeast asian countries:

    Indonesia : USD 2.85-7.54
    China : USD 4.72-8.14
    Thailand : USD 7.45-10.07
    Malaysia : USD 8.93-10.5
    Philippines NCR: 419-456 peso = USD 10.19-11.09
    Philippines IVA : 255-349.5 peso = USD 6.2-8.5
    Philippines III : 285-336 peso = USD 6.93-8.17
    Philippines VII : 260-305 peso = USD 6.32-7.41

    What do you think why daily wages in the Philippines is relatively higher compare to neighbor country?
    And that also mean that:
    – cost of living in the Philippines is relatively higher
    – business competitiveness in the Philippines is relatively lower
    But unemployment rate in the Philippines still higher than the other countries.

    Maybe some of the problem is:
    – Philippines families has more children
    More money& time spent for raising children
    Not enough nutritious food for the children
    Not enough good education, since the increase in number of public school and teacher is lower than the increase of new born babies

    – Only a few Filipino can manage to save or maybe invest their money, let say in mutual fund, UITF
    Mutual fund & UITF will use those money to buy share of public company, that will help those public company grow.
    It means Filipino can get some profit from those investment in mutual fund.

    If each person received an increase of 10% every year on their salaries
    And they can manage to invest 20% of their income in investment that give 12% profit every year
    After 10 years, their investment’s profit is equal to their salary

    – Business competitiveness is low
    Not so much competition available
    Office & factory tend to hire more people to finish an activity that can be done by fewer people
    (This means company must pay those additional people with standard minimum wage)
    Just imagine if company can hire less people & pay them better, so the company become more efficient & have another additional extra money to build another factory. And that mean they will hire another people to work for them.

    I think an improvement on Philippines economy, lower poverty rate & lower gap between rich and poor is possible, if there is someone who want to give a new insight, new habit for every Filipino.

    May 12, 2013 | 2:21 am

  61. Jody says:

    I believe “Planet of Slums” by Mike Davis is well worth a read. It is a shocking book in many ways and I came away thinking that there is no regional or ethnic quality to slums. Slums are the same all over the world, full of fear, poverty and human misery on a grand scale. The slums of the Philippines are no different.

    May 13, 2013 | 8:43 am

  62. mary chen says:

    my eyebrows are beyond crooked after reading ur post.it is very insightful and realistic. ur passion, i too, share with great rigor. i am wondering with this continued economic growth, poverty is still everywhere. i am with u in this crusade. EDUCATION IS REALLY THE KEY.

    May 13, 2013 | 5:57 pm

  63. Christopher Tan says:

    Hi Sir,

    Thank you for shedding light on this problem. I think you will find the book of Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, two leading development economists from MIT. The book is available at Fullybooked and has a very accessible website: http://pooreconomics.com/.


    May 16, 2013 | 9:22 pm

  64. Buddy says:

    Nice one Marketman!

    May 19, 2013 | 8:11 am


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