Is there a future in the Philippines? – Guest writer – Allen Moretsky

I believe that the future of the Philippines is less then secure to say the least. There are a 3 main reasons for believing that the Philippines cannot make it.

I am hoping to make a home in the Philippines for a extended time. For sure the big cities are crowded an places like Manila and Cebu are polluted. Not to mention the crime rates of places like this. The future of the Philippines is unsure. The locals talk about the current “crisis”. Well that crisis has lasted a long time. If you look at the current birth rate, it is out of control and to be quite honest it is too late for the Philippines to get that under control even if they wanted. The barriers that exist towards birth control are too great. It is a Catholic country with the Church having a great influence. There is no state/church separation here. There is also the problem of the Filipino himself. Families of six to twelve children are considered normal as they were when our country was a farming community. The farmer needs his children to work the land and provide for his future. The problem here is that the Philippines has changed and the mentality has not. The laws of inheritance here are such that the children share the limited inherited land. Most farmers I know have one or two hectares and when they divvy that up between 12 children there just is not enough land to support the next generation. The growth has outstripped the resources. Already the Philippines is importing rice because they do not provide enough for their needs.

Next issue is the source of protein, fish. What I have read is that 90% of the coral has been destroyed around the coastlines of the Philippines. Most of this destruction is at the hands of fishermen who used dynamite and cyanide to fish. Sounds crazy to fish that way, but having lived in Hong Kong I understand a little better what has happened. When the Filipino diver uses cyanide around the coral he stuns the fish and can easily scoop them up without piercing them with a sharp instrument. These live, but stunned fish are then shipped to Hong Kong where they swim live in tanks outside the restaurant. The Chinese patron picks his fish and has it cooked fresh. When I was in Hong Kong there were issues of cyanide poisoning from this method of fishing and eating. The prices that Hong Kong pays for this live fish is very high. Of course when using the cyanide the coral is killed as well and it takes 20 years or more for a comeback. Dynamite is the same. There are laws now in the Philippines, but the same thing is going on. When I was staying on one of the remote Islands off the coast here I could hear the explosions from the dynamite fishing. There was a coast guard station within earshot as well. The locals know who was fishing this way and yet it was allowed. The end result is the destruction of the coral and thus the breeding grounds for future fish. Fishing is on the decline and fish are the main source of protein in the Philippines. As the price increases poor Filipinos will go without.

For these two reasons I tend to look at an area with a lower population and hope that the future of that area might be less affected because the larger proportion of land and sea per person might more positively affect the future of that area.

I would like to throw in here that the third reason for a negative outlook for the future of the Philippines is the corruption that is endemic to the government. This is another one of those problems with no solution. If you look at the problem as a family problem you will understand why. One of the best things about the Philippines is the strong family. These

families often sell their birthrights to help one another. They pull out all stops to help one another. When you take that wonderful family attitude to the government you have a corruption problem that I think is incurable. If Mayor Espina is giving his brother the contract for the roads, no one blinks and eye. The oddest thing about elections here is that votes are commonly sold. That’s right the candidate must have enough money to buy votes to get elected. I am fond of turning this around when Filipinos complain to me about the corruption in government. I merely point out that what can one expect when one sells one’s vote. The candidate who buys his election probably has a right to the pickings.

One friend of mine in Siquijor when I was staying at his house told me about how he hated working in the government. He was a Muslim man working in Mindanao. He told me that there were lot’s of no-show employees on the payroll and the person in charge was getting the salaries. He also told me about contracts for work that was never done with the government official pocketing the money. Keep in mind that the best jobs in the Philippines are in the government so a government job is highly sought and no one in his right mind would jeopardize one of these “gifts” to squeal on his boss. And so the corruption is endemic to the culture.

These 3 issues are interdependent. Increasing population outstripping the resources here. Those resources being fishing which is in decline due to loss of breeding grounds for fish. With the whole thing complicated by a corrupt and inept government. And no hope on the horizon and even if there were a ray of sunshine to be seen, it is too late.