The Superficial “Economic Boom”
Of the Philippines
by Apolinario Villalobos
One need not have to be a statistician or an expert analyst to come up with an honest view of the real state of the Philippines and the Filipinos. All that one has to do is go beyond the affluent peripheries of the cities where vast areas of slum can be found. In those crannies of the cities, one can find the different faces of poverty. Not all of those who live there are indolent. Most of them survive on hope and perseverance. It is not fair, therefore, to say that they are just idly waiting for the dole outs from the government. The president is overwhelmed by the big remittances from Filipinos laboring in foreign lands. But for the knowledgeable Filipinos, such revenue is unreliable, as it depends on the economic stability of host countries, hence, should not be viewed as a sign of development.
Surveys say that the country has gone up by leaps and bounds as far as employment and food sufficiency are concerned. Those paid guys who made the surveys must be out of their mind! They interview the wrong people and they seemed to be blind on the high prices etched on cardboards that mark bins of different varieties of commercial rice, that have not returned to their previous prices during the early part of 2014. Even local vegetables are ridiculously marked with high prices. The skyrocketing of the price of fish is crazily attributed to the cold weather! A promise was made by the government to ensure the return of the jacked up prices soonest as the price of fuel has gone down, but despite their slide, nothing has materialized out of the promise made. On the other hand, thousands of sacks of imported rice are on their way…is this food sufficiency?
Commercial and residential infrastructures continuously pockmark the landscape of highly developed towns and cities, but conglomerates that own them are dominated by foreign names, if ever Filipino names are found in incorporation papers, they are consistently the same. The country’s development is haplessly geared for the enrichment of foreign investors and few Filipinos, albeit, with foreign ancestry. It is good for the country, but not for the Filipinos whose taste of these developments are in the form of meager wages as housemaids, chambermaids, clerks, drivers, busboys, room boys, dishwashers, call center agents, and other lowly jobs, though decent. Filipinos have become servants in their own land! The government clearly failed to come up with opportunities that would make the Filipinos decently self-sufficient. Even agriculture is hopelessly neglected!
The number of scavengers that forage in the dumps for recyclable trash to be sold to junkshops, and even for bits of food did not dwindle a bit. Families relocated to the sites without basic facilities such as water, roads, and electricity are trekking back to the esteros where they were pulled out or find nocturnal comfort on sidewalks. Questions on where the budgets for habitable relocation sites went, are never answered. This government indifference is shown even by its inaction to anomalies regarding the unexplained plight of donations for victims of calamities, such as typhoon Yolanda.
Reliable mass transit system is one of the gauges for a country’s development, and which the Philippines is pitifully lacking. The aging Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems are in a sorry and shameful state due to mismanagement, but which some sector claim as corruption. Every time the president speaks, promises are mumbled, to the point that Filipinos got tired of his verbal rattling. His spokesperson even shamelessly told Manilans not to rely so much on the train systems for there are options available such as buses and jeepneys. What happened then, to the ease and comfort promised by the government when the two elevated train systems were built?
With the onset of Pnoy’s departure from Malacaῆan Palace in 2016, he confidently presumes that he has delivered what have been expected of him as the president of this distraught country that wallows in poverty, unemployment and corruption. He must be dreaming!