The Irony of the Philippines’ “Tiger Economy”

The Irony of the Philippines’ “Tiger Economy”
by Apolinario Villalobos

The Philippine government untiringly and proudly tweets the “tiger economy” of the Philippines that has finally risen from its miserable state in the past. But, is the rising economy real? Clearly, poverty is still very prevalent. For the doubting Thomas, the government asks for an allowance of a little time for the benefits to be enjoyed….until when? Yes, there is an influx of investments from outside, but their returns are also brought out of the country and deposited in the countries where they came from, so nothing is left for further investment in the country, supposedly for its development. These investors come to the country because of the cheap labor, period! They even have the temerity of quarrying the minerals and bring them by shiploads back to their country to be manufactured as important components of gadgets that flood the local market later as finished products. Is that progress?

The government perceives the employment of Filipinos as sales clerks in malls, hotel staff, call center agents, drivers, maids in condos of foreigners as the country’s economic benefits. Ironically, these contractual jobs with pittance pay may be called “benefits” – that last for as long as the contract stays, the longest of which is five months! After that period, the poor Filipino is again out in the streets looking for meagerly paying jobs offered by foreign investors.

In the desire of the Philippine government to leap-frog the economy, it gave priority to the easy revenue that comes every 15th and 30th day. Along this line, it disastrously came up with the K-12 education program to purportedly prepare the youth for the future – as exported migrant workers in other countries, with their skill as driver, manicurist, hairstylist, cook, housemaid, hotel staff, etc. In its enthusiasm, the government forgot that the educational system is not even prepared for the massive unemployment that will result, as well as, confusion that will prevail due to the absence of modules and facilities such as rooms, teaching materials, etc. This effort simply shows the short-sightedness of the government…its utter lack of foresight.

The agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry which are supposed to come up with back up programs for the sustenance of the country are now hideously perceived with disrespect due to corruption that has practically eaten up their foundations. Not only the two agencies have questionable integrity, but other agencies, even some branches of the judiciary, as well, and worse, many local officials. Practically, from below up to the top levels of the government, corruption prevails. Is this the country with a “tiger economy”?

There was a time when a reputable international dictionary came up with the definition of the “Filipina” as “domestic helper”, but fortunately, it was checked in time and scrapped. Woefully, despite the talents of the Filipino in other fields, these are overwhelmed by the stigma brought about as his being an “overseas Filipino worker” which has more negative connotations than positive. In this regard, a Thai who works in Manila, even has the gall to call Filipinos as “toilet lickers”. In other words, not even a Lea Salonga or a Manny Pacquiao or a Charisse Pempengco, or the beautiful faces and wits of international Filipina beauty titlists, are able to erase this horrendous image. The Thai has boldly shown that our pride as Filipinos can be trampled right in our country. The Thai has lost his respect to us…can we blame him, as corruption has practically become part of the air that he breathes while working in a multi-company in Manila? The government should take this latest incident seriously, as it has clearly signaled the decadence of a once respected race in this part of the world! But, has the government booted out the Thai because of his overly ungrateful post on his facebook that has international viewership?…I really doubt!

Economic declarations are based on reports, and figures on papers can be shrewdly crafted to suit their purpose. If the world will be made to believe about the rising economy of a country, then, its image must be cosmeticized with nice figures in a report to show its “rising economy”. On the other hand, the report encourages the sucker government with inflated ego to seek more loans, as it can “afford” to pay anyway. So, the blacker the figures are presented, the more loans that the country can get….and the deeper it gets down the muck of indebtedness!

It is funny how a country can be called an “economic tiger” when even its toothpick and cotton balls are imported from China and its rice perpetually imported from struggling Asian countries whose economies are proudly founded on agriculture! And, yet such country delights for being called a “tiger” when it cannot command even a slight respect from its neighbors due to its stark pathetic state….and as to its leadership?…well……….

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