Philippines vs East Asia, where did it all go wrong?

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ September 28th, 2010. Updated on September 22nd, 2014. Published in: Travel blog » Discover World Culture » How to guides ... » Philippines.
Incense burning in a Chinese Temple

History is repeating: Asia is becoming the next world economic powerhouse, why is The Philippines nowhere to be found this time?

Why is The Philippines so far behind the rest of East Asia?

Why is The Philippines failing on so many levels when it should, by all accounts, be a major contender in South East Asia? What you might not know, is once upon a time, it was just that, a major economic contender in all of East Asia. 

I won’t pretend for one utterance of a second to be an expert in world history, religion or economics. However, after 2 years here I have tried to piece a few things together that some people may find interesting, or others may take deep offence too. Either way, it’s what I’ve learned and experienced.

Many thanks to Marnie who introduced me to Robert H. Nelson‘s paper on the Philippine economy.

How does it all break down?

Complete Philippine history in a nutshell

  • 30,000 years ago is the earliest record of human life in The Philippines as the Tabon man was discovered here
  • The Philippines was actually a collection of independent island nations ruled by different people. So it was not one nation until …
  • In 1521 Ferdinand Magellan arrived, although Portuguese, he worked for the Spanish crown as a citizen. By 1565 The Philippines became a Spanish colony and named after King Felipe II becoming known as Las Islas Felipinas (the Islands of Felipe)
  • For the next 333 years Spain ruled The Philippines and instilled Christian Catholicism
  • In 1898 The Philppines began to revolt against the Spanish and with the aid of the U.S.A. (Spanish-American war) became independent
  • However, at the end of Spanish American war, the treaty of Paris handed The Philippines over to the U.S.A.
  • The Philippines and the U.S.A. then went to war
  • In 1902 the U.S.A. won and so The Philippines was now a colony of the U.S.A.
  • This lasted until the Japanese invasion during WWII
  • After the war, The Philippines gained full Independence from the U.S.A. in 1946
  • The Philippines Economy was now booming
  • A slew of Presidents took office during this time
  • Then the corrupt dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos took over in 1965 to 1986
  • In 1986 the people power revolution took back power lead by Corazon C. Aquino
  • Since then her defense secretary (Ramos) took over and tried to change the constitution to allow a second term in office, it failed
  • Actor turned politian Estrada then took over, and also tried to change the consitution to allow for a second term and was booted out on charges of plunder
  • Enter Gloria Arroyo who took over his office, before then running for her own first term of office culminating in years of corruption alegations
  • This year the new president Benigno Aquino III son of former president Aquino came to the Presidential office

The Philippines was once one of the fastest growing nations economically in East Asia

Back in 1950 excluding Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore, the Philippines had a higher income per capita than any other nation in East Asia.

And, it continued to boom until the early 1970’s, when paradoxical the rest of Asia took off economically.

The Philippines went on the decline as it’s neighbors prospered.

What happened to The Philippine economy?

In The Philippines American colonialism is often referred to as a major factor to the downfall of the country during this time. But in parallel, the second country to be occupied by the USA during this time, Japan, rose up to become one of the worlds most powerful economies.

Christian Cross in the sea at sunset

Catholic beliefs in a Protestant mindset, is this the problem?

The same, but different … always

Both are island nations in Asia, which to me, negates the argument that The Philippines isolation and lack of resources is a major factor. Though, I will settle for contributing at some stages.

There is also the argument that when Marcos took over; The Philippines became devastated by dictatorship. But, this is largely negated by the fact that other nations in SEA also had tough political times. Indonesia is a prime example, along with Korea and Thailand.

Not withstanding this; crime, violence and corruption became rife in The Philippines at it’s highest level. Yet, it stayed with big business, and politics and did not sweep into the lower economic scaled classes.

But still, why can this land of smiling people not break free from the corruption that’s made it one of the lowest performing countries in East Asia? This, coming from a country that upholds a strong and devote catholic following. A faith, that for sake of argument, promotes good will and honesty to all.

Systemic corruption in the Philippines is a result of Christian dictates?

Now here’s an interesting theory:

Catholicism is the main religion by far in The Philippines. Brought in by the friars of Spanish colonists. They swept the fledgling nation up in what had helped Spain become a colonial super power: control.

Spain had colonies based on this in the Americas and Africa. The system worked well as it had done previously in the European empire building days of yesteryear.

The overwhelming teaching of the catholic church dictates that its followers should seek answers from within the catholic  institution. As such Catholics depend on their church (the institution) for answers and guidance. This was for 333 years the modus operandi.

Enter the American influence on the Philippines

Almost immediately following the Spanish, the U.S.A. ruled the Philippines.  The U.S.A. was predominately a Protestant Christian nation at that time.

The Protestant Church instills the value that people should find truth and guidelines from within the Christian Bible.

“Protestantism instills individual responsibility based on guidelines, whilst Catholicism instills a belief that centers around an institution.”

And so, an abrupt fracture in ruling beliefs that arburtrate the same end game began.

Robert H. Nelson also brings up another link that adds substance and evidence to this theory.

Similarities between The Philippines and Latin America

The Philippines is the only Asian country with a direct similarity to Latin American countries. Both have past colonial histories with Spain. And, to an extent been involved with the U.S.A.

They also have very similar trends in terms of economic, political and religious histories.

One of the great queries of our age is “why haven’t the neighboring countries of  the U.S.A. done better”  Both in terms of economy, and politically. It’s not for want of influence.

Religion again or something else?

You may have guessed the trend here too. Spanish Catholic colonialism and Protestant U.S.A. influence.

The outcome, anti U.S.A. sentiment for trying to impose values (not withstanding other areas), similar lagging economies and corrupt governments.

So a question:

“Is religion the major factor in the similarities between growth / lack of and development within The Philippines and Latin America?”

Past and present end game in The Philippines

With a few exceptions the rest of East Asia is progressing in leaps and bounds. Those that are not are largely a part of constrained political dictatorships.

The Philippines has been a free thinking, democratic country with strong ties to the U.S.A. and Europe for decades. Not to mention sitting beside some of the strongest economic countries in the world – China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea.

Other east Asia countries are marching ahead economically and politically – Vietnam and Malaysia. And, although bereft with political issues Thailand too has jumped leaps and bounds ahead of The Philippines.

Yet, The Philippines remains marred by political failings, economic downfalls, corruption, lack of proper healthcare, a juvenile education system, and perhaps more sadly; plundering moral values.

Colonial blame

Parts of Africa were also colonized by Spain, amongst other nations. In my time there I met with many people who seemed to house a deep disdain and blame for their problems owing to their former rulers.

Paradoxically, in countries that do not labor on with this feeling, progress seems to edge on a few degrees faster.

Least we look even further back when the U.K., U.S.A., and China etc, were all colonies of other nations / empires e.g. UK – Rome, U.S.A. – England, China – Mongolia.

Forgotten past

In The Philippines I hear much about the American influence (recent history). Japan is still mentioned, in ire. And, Spain now seems only remembered for the odd word that is still spoken here.

There is little ill will spoken of Spain here. It seems in The Philippines history becomes a part of the subconscious faster than in most other nations. Perhaps there is a reason for this though.

If the nations educational system was more apt in world history, it might bring about a little realization. Sadly, many people, have very little knowledge even about their own recent history in World War 2. Facts and figures are taught via rote learning, but little of the why’s, how’s and who’s are taught.  Go past WW2, and even less is taught.

Walk into many a bookstore outside of Manila, and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything other than bibles, business studies, self help, cheap tacky movie paperbacks, and romance slush piles. Where’s the history section?

History here seems only to be regaled by serious scholars, or those educated overseas.

In my estimation, history is where we learn about our present and future.

The future of the Philippines in Asia

Will this lagging yet once dominant nation return to being a leader in Asia?


Is cultural history and religious legacy within The Philippines going to dictate its fate?

Hotel search at the Longest Way Home

Planning on booking a hotel room in The Philippines?

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I recommend you try my own hotel search for The Philippines.


Coming soon:

How business works on this journey, and how it does not …

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47 Great responses to Philippines vs East Asia, where did it all go wrong?

  1. Jeff Mines says:

    Interesting theories not talked about much. I do agree about the education system. In bony country where it is not made a priority, there will be problems.

  2. Renny says:

    Religion all over the world has a lot to answer for in my opinion.

  3. Great write. Malaysia was under the British Rule for over 50 years and right now, I see a confused mixture of culture and heritage while the modern day society tries very hard to make the country what it once used to be. It’s just not easy in a multi-racial country where all the many religions come together in just feet apart.


  4. ciki says:

    great post as always babe. I think living in harmony whatever the circumstances or whatever the hodge-podge of races/religion is key.. otherwise, it might as well be like “the animal farm” where we end up tearing each other to pieces.

    good one dave;)

    • Thanks Mei. Animal Farm is a good reference to many issues here. Race/Religion/Politics/Culture all things wise old men say start wars. How quite the world can work in harmony is another story. :)

  5. Marnie Alvez says:

    An issue currently brewing is the imminent passing of the Reproductive Health Bill which for the longest time has been disputed by the Catholic Church. It’s just one of the many issues that the Catholic Church or the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP in partucular, meddles in which somehow hinders the over-all growth of the Philippines. With the recent UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit in New York, influencing President Aquino’s stand on population control, the CBCP and Pro-Life Advocates are now up on its toes thinking of ways to again stop this pro-active step in being one with the global action plan to achieve the eight anti-poverty goals set by the UN MDG.

    Come on Filipino people! Can’t we all start thinking out of our religious boxes? A target date to end poverty by 2015 is set and do we want to be left behind? And remain to be a burden to every country who has committed to the initiatives to get there?

    On a lighter but still negative note, Filipinos have an attitude that we should really do away with… it’s the ‘Bahala Na’ attitude. Bahala came from the word ‘Bathala’ which means ‘God’. Literally it means, ‘Let God’s Will Be’ or sometimes it’s like ‘Let God provide’. For me it’s sometimes an excuse for being lazy.. and for a lot of things actually. Let’s have more children even if we can’t afford it? Yeah bahala na.

    That said, religion specifically in the Philippines does play a major role in its decline.

    I may ruffle some Filipino feathers with my comment but then it’s the reality. Let’s face it.

    An interesting read:

    • I agree with you on “Bahala Na”, and The Philippines is not the only country to use that term. I know West Africa uses it a lot. And, I know ruffling of feathers occurs when people mention this as being a lazy persons way out.

      I do, however, think that with a stronger education system, rather than the current one, people can learn more. And, question things. With this they can start to make their own opinions. Sadly the education system is quite antiquated here. At least in the more rural areas.

      As for the Catholic church. Over the past two decades, worldwide, it’s come under a lot of criticism for being archaic and not keeping up with the times. Even from within there have been questions as to it’s direction and future. Unfortunately, I don’t see anything changing there for the foreseeable future. It’s almost as if they are writing their own destiny.

      • Marnie Alvez says:

        In all aspects of nation building, a proper education is indeed essential. We’ve heard it time and again from our elders that knowledge is gold. I don’t want to sound snobbish but I have no idea how the public school system here in the Philippines works. However, one thing is certain. It really needs an overhaul. I have high hopes for this. I know the Philippines is getting there. The new government is determined on changing a lot of things for the better. I’m really crossing my fingers and at the same time, help in any way I can in whatever aspect of growth and improvement of the nation. If bike commuting helps in reducing air pollution, so be it! Hell yeah! I’m proud to be one less car!

        This was in the breaking news today..

        • I read the link. It’s certainly a start. But, I would think a radical overhaul of the curriculum would be more prevalent. Some would argue you need to match up the years first, I hope this is what’s happening.

          But, I’ve seen the current curriculum in public schools. I am still shaking my head on that one.

  6. Marnie Alvez says:

    More interesting read… Yeah the media used the ultimate description.. Powerful Catholic Church

    Read on!

  7. Claire says:

    Very interesting article. As you have pointed out, the Philippines was doing well after we gained our independence until the early part of the Marcos regime. But as time went by, the culture of cronyism has widened the gap between the rich and the poor and corruption has deepened its roots not just in politics but also made its way to the everyday life of the Filipinos. Yet again, corruption dates back during the time of the Spaniards and the Americans. Now, those in power try to wield the same kind of influence our former colonizers have used over us and enjoy their privileges as well. I think partly to be blamed is the hacienda system, which churches also enjoyed and, thus, tolerated. Though now we are a so-called democracy, it’s still a landlord-serf/slave mentality in our society that is present even in the common workplace. Just my thoughts.

    • Valid thoughts! I do however think that corruption in the Philippines is not yet endemic. At least not to the point of say, Nigeria. In which corruption had become a way of life over there. And, sadly seems to follow the citizens around where ever they go. It has, become a way of life.

      This, I think, unfortunately is the way The Philippines is headed. I certainly wish it was not. Again, rurally the people a strong, honest and good. At least from what I have seen and experienced. Indeed even in urban areas this can still be found. But, I am seeing this darker nature take hold in the population. And, it will spread, as it has in other places. What can be done to stop it? I maintain an improved education system. The people would know, and understand a lot more.

      • Claire says:

        I certainly agree that an improved education system would help curb corruption. A strong sense of nationhood should be inculcated in every aspect of society. That should be the main subject in pre-school! Hahaha! Kidding aside, I think there’s still hope as long as we remain hopeful and proactive in redirecting our citizens towards the common good.

        • Yes, I think there is hope too! I think a strong sense of Nationhood can be derived from an strong education system whereby people can learn about their history as a whole. From this, I really see a passion coming out.

  8. Sealdi says:

    I agree on certain points about religion, but I think more than that centuries of colonial power has done very little to unite the Filipinos. I read once that the colonizers used this as a very effective tool to ensure that Filipinos won’t band together as one common identity and boot them out of the islands. Combine all these together, and fast forward to the 21st century we are still very very very divided as country.

    Filipinos think very little of themselves. We seem to have very little pride left for our country (Filipinos would rather travel to other countries for leisure and pleasure rather than discovering our own wealth of wonders), and very little faith in the government. With relative poverty and increasing materialism, we are left with a “let us fend for ourselves and our families” mentality (thus the exodus of people out of the Philippines to work for their families). Its shameful to admit but we are not very nationalistic. You look at the TV ads, and what do you see? It’s all about the family and never about the country.

    I think this sense of nationalism and pride has been robbed from us by politicos and, yes, going back to history, by the Spaniards, the Americans, the Japanese, and even the Chinese. As a race we have been ridiculed by the international community for being domestic helpers, prostitutes, and blue collar workers. As a country, we do have the best and the brightest (those blue collar workers and prostitutes and domestic helpers are college graduates, damn it), but we never seem to pool our resources together and work for the good of the country. We allow our politicians to rob us, other races to call us names…and what do we do? We hang our heads in shame, like those indios (as the Spaniards called us then) in colonial Philippine history, 3rd class citizens, not worthy of anything.

    We are badly broken and bruised as a nation. And all we do is pray for divine intervention.

    • It very interesting to read your comments. You’ve mentioned a few things that many Filipinos only seem to say once you get to know them well. I agree with some points you make, but not with a couple.

      There certainly does seem to be this “sorrow” attitude when talking with some people about the nation as a whole. Then again, there are some people who are very proud to be from The Philippines. Both, seem to point fingers at corruption as a factor for their problems.

      A divided nation? Hmm, there are few ways to look at this. The divide between the power brokers and the public. The rich and the poor. And, then the division in Mindanao. No doubt, all areas can be a mix of divisions too. But, as a whole I don’t see a huge divided nation in terms of Pinoy against Pinoy. And, this is a good thing. Again I’ll refer to Nigeria where ethnic groups are constantly classing themselves against each other. And, religious tensions often break out into extreme violence.

      I think many people leave the Philippines to work overseas as quite frankly they will earn more. The money comes back to The Philippines, and I believe the majority of the people do as well, eventually. They’ve saved enough to raise a family, own a house, and start a business here. As Hilliary Clinton pointed out recently, she wished the Government would offer more to keep such hard working people within the country and help build it to the potentially great East Asian nation it can be.

      I think many, many overseas migrants, workers, and students suffer some form of abuse: be it racial, or otherwise. France at the moment is being accused of unfairly treating ethnic Romanians. Mexicans in the USA are given similar stereotypes. And, again in Europe the Polish went through much of this as when they joined the EU.

      It’s hard to live in another country, work there, and integrate. I’ve had several experiences here, and in other countries with misconceptions, and preconceptions. It’s not easy no matter who you are.

      Do I think divine intervention will save the day? No. I think it’s up to individuals to decide. Hopefully such individuals will one day know, and understand a lot more about each other. And things like prejudice, and misconceptions will sway into the past.

      Thanks for interesting comment!

  9. Mike Tander says:

    Such a great blog you have. Beautiful pictures. I definitely need to travel to Asia soon!

  10. Sealdi says:

    Oh, when I say divided I do not mean serious racial clashes. But rather prejudices (as with every region in every country in the world).

    With corruption and all these problems that we are having, we could actually fight it if we can, but Filipinos are quite passive and are always on the “let us wait and see” attitude, which is not very good. We have a phrase which we used quite often (and I bet you hear very often), “Bahala na” with the shrugging of shoulders (no direct translation but could mean, “whatever comes…”). An anthropologist wrote that this actually came from the term, “Bathala na ang bahala.” (God will decide). And of course, another very common phrase – “ok lang.” On another perspective, others see this as resiliency, which isn’t exactly because when did passivity became resiliency?

    And so it goes, everything is always “ok lang” and “bahala na” in this beautiful country of ours.

    • Sealdi says:

      But you know, as I was thinking more about it…if you are really poor and you have nothing to eat or you are just sick and tired of being played around by powerful individuals, you will box yourself into a lower level. I think somehow Maslow is right, if you address all your base needs, only then you will aspire for something greater. But even if the Filipinos are better off than a whole lot of developing countries in Africa or South Asia, we are so stuck in that way of thinking, of being in the sidelines that we think this is just the way it is. Okay lang.

      • Yes, getting boxed in can happen, and does happen. And again yes on Maslow. Base needs and work up. Hence I keep mentioning education. I think if this can be improved, then people will come out of the sidelines and start coming up with solutions! Then things will reach the Okay lang stage :)

    • Marnie brings up the subject of “Bahala na” above. Hmmm, yes I see this passive “let’s wait and see” attitude everywhere. It’s not my favorite to be honest. Mainly because I’ve seen what it has done in other countries.

      I do worry that quite often when people think they are too passive, they swing to an extreme opposite when things really get bad. And, this I disagree with. I do think people should question more. And, to question with an understanding on the subject. What I find in the Philippines, is that information is often hidden away somewhere. And the person with that information is often the one with the power, and so wins the argument.

      A beautiful country with, beautiful people, yes. I just really hope it doesn’t disappear.

  11. bijou says:

    i don’t think i would really blame religion for the cause of our decline. during the times we were doing well we were already a Catholic/Christian nation. in fact, there’s a controversial view that we were heading towards becoming a super power during Marcos’ time but of course that was before he became ruthless and paranoid (and perhaps manipulated by negative influences of the mrs.) anyway, i really wouldn’t say Catholic religion is to blame because there are South American countries like Chile that’s very prosperous but is a Roman Catholic nation.

    there’s another theory that says it all has to do with steel/nuclear power. Marcos was getting that developed before it was halted. a common trend among developing countries/super powers had something to do with research on steel/nuclear power.

    • bijou says:

      also, i kind of agree with the sentiment that this downward spiral has a lot to do with our confused history. three or four colonial influences is a bit too much and i’m sure each of these colonists messed with our true history like they hid and covered up something here and there. we discussed this before in history class in college and the professors all seem to agree there is something very vague and unclear about our history that leads to a current confused identity among Filipinos. very unfortunately. what do we have to do to correct this?

      • Jai says:

        I suggest we practice some of our people’s heritage with much gusto. Arnis being one of them, it’s linage is most definitely filipino, and would help us learn more of how our ancestor’s fought and won against the early spaniard settlers.

        • Jai, that would be promoting violence, which really is not appropriate.

          • Jai says:

            Nope, i think you are mistaken, unless you believe all martial arts promote violence. I was suggesting something along the lines of discipline through training with a filipino touch. It’s like learning karate to understand more about the japanese.

      • @bijou Fair points about not blaming religion. However the Protestant / Catholic values mentioned above do indicate there is a trend. Again, the Latino example.

        I’ve heard of the steel industry age too, but don’t know enough to comment. But Sealdi’s point below I have heard of many a time. A focus on industry has left the Philippines open to a problem in a depleted Agriculture sector.

        And, yes, that many colonial powers in such a short succession is indeed a heavy burden. Though, the Latin American again does slightly creep in with regards to the religions divide in values.

        Interesting comments, thanks for posting!

    • Sealdi says:

      the nuclear power was again…a bit too controversial, but I sincerely think it more had something to do with corruption in contracts and deals. they pilfered the money into their pockets and what was left was just enough to fuel fears of nuclear meltdown with all the substandard materials and stuff used to build that white elephant of a nuclear power plant in bataan province.

      the philippine steel industry died in the wave of globalization. my dad used (and still does) work for what used to be the national steel company. but we just couldn’t compete with the influx of cheaper steel goods and raw materials from china and russia. we didn’t have very good and sound economic policies to mitigate the bad effects of globalization.

      marcos focused on industrialization, that being a trend in the 70s. but what they didn’t really focus on was this age-old issue of feudalism in the agriculture industry. so when the government put so much focus on industrialization, the agriculture industry suffered. and when globalization affected our manufacturing industries in a very bad way, we really couldn’t revive the agriculture sector anymore. with agricultural lands being reclassified to residential zones (yeah we can blame housing czars like manny villar for this), we find ourselves with a huge gap in demand and supply to feed ourselves.

      • Interesting point about Agriculture here. When I was in Sagada there was many a story about how it’s was an industry that was dumped in favor of Industry and IT.

        The result being that the Philippines is no longer self sufficient when it comes to support its own population interdependently via agriculture.

        Importation of rice etc,. Last years food crises was a huge wake up call as rice prices in South East Asia shot up. And, even more worryingly rice was become harder to find.

  12. Spencer says:

    Great blog. Well written and very engaging. An entertaining read.

  13. PHguy says:

    I think what really lacks is the government’s initiative to protect and nationalize its industries. We have to face that everything in the world somehow works in terms of incentives. Our education sector has long been decaying (if it works that way) because of lack of funding and welfare security among its stakeholders most especially the teachers and the Filipino family.

    Lack of jobs means lack of access to basic necessities which actually create a domino effect not only on the physical health of the people but also their mental health and perception towards their environment.

    As for the teachers, their salary and benefits have long been stagnant for the past decades because of also a stagnating budget. Thus “competition” in their sector has declined for very long. No government initiative has been done to compensate them with their grueling task to mold an entire nation–imagine teach bratty kids to become the next responsible and patriotic workforce?! Competition could also mean setting the proper mindset among teachers to perform well in teaching. They should be motivated to seek for post graduate degrees and put to heart what their teaching philosophies are. Everything that runs around the education sector is the need to earn money. They get their asses in front of the blackboard, they get paid. That’s it for most of them, honestly.

    So that leaves a generation without a proper sense of their country, or their history. A generation without a firm inspiration.

    To recapitulate, imagine how a certain sector of the economy affects the entire country for years? Industries—>Workforce—>Purchasing Power & National Budget—>Education—>Society—>National Security—->Industries

    Everything matters. That’s what people deny. All they think is to “unite and hold hands so we meet our future as a people” blah blah. Haha. It’s all about facts not drama.

  14. PHguy says:

    As for agriculture, I disagree again and again. Why won’t others learn?

    South Korea and Taiwan barely have an arable land for agriculture, yet their economy boomed and it is because of the industry sector. But did their people starve? Think again.

    Their government put their efforts and money on industries because they have a foresight that their national revenues would double there. Steel, in fact, is a very lucrative industry. It never fades because it is what makes the entire industrial sector. With proper government funding and decision-making, they were able to have the budget to import and attain national food security.

    Food importation should never be a shame. Yes we had scientists who taught Thais, Vietnamese, Malaysians back then to develop rice, but Research and Development does not equate to an entire Agriculture Sector. We can be a world leader, once again, in R&D in agriculture but it is fair enough that we do not have to push ourselves only to a sector (agriculture) that feeds industrial-based economies at the expense of tripled costing for our people. (Raw materials coming from the Philippines through agriculture, industrial nations refine and produce the materials, they export, goes through taxes and other trade hoo-hahs, we pay what was ours ten-fold).

  15. Fabiole says:

    As a Filipino American, I am very disappoimted at the progress or lack of in the Philippines. It appears to me that the Philippines are not equiped to govern itself. I believe the biggest problem with the Philippines is a very poor, poor, poor government. The people up above in the governmental structure appear to be in it for themselves or the wealthy people who sponsored them. There need to have a government that can be trusted and admired. I can’t see how this will be possible in the Philippines. They had lost their place in the sun and no one can do business there or visit as tourist. In China and many parts of Asia, the Leaders would shot looters or grafters on the spot. Also, it’s not the Catholic religion. The US is almost 40% Catholic. Brazil an up and coming Power House is up tp 80% Catholic. Put able people in government with the people to back them up and changes will happen.

  16. Kendo says:

    i agree with the very last comment ie essentially a lack of leadership/ poor governence. Ok, that’s a bit of a catch-all but there is nothing fundimentally wrong in this country that can’t be fixed.
    Having said that, I think it’s a good thing that philippines remains under developed as following the capitalist development of the past 40 years would (and will for those that followed it) a disaster.
    Philippines weakness is also its strength. We have a clean sheet of paper and an environment that can still be saved to obtain a sustainable economy. Peak oil is here and industrialisation, with its global supply and value chains will soon collapse. Our transition to a local, low energy economy will be easier by default.

    As for institutional religions, I am no fan in principle, by my guys (my work team) are taught good moral values that make them Ideal employees. The civic and family bond here are very strong and they do accept westerners, where in many countries we’d always be ‘the foreigner’. These local support structures are what saved people in the former Soviet collapse. Such a collapse is coming worldwide and those fragmanted ‘developed’ countries will implode into bloody chaos. People here will suffer too, but they will survive and become stronger.


  17. Francis says:

    I do agree with some points you have raised here, sir. However, what I can see is, the biggest problem of the country now is that it’s people doesn’t want to look back and neither to move on on what had happened. In the news over the past weeks and months, several of it were all about in the past and no one would claim and tell the people “hey, come on, let’s all move on and learn from what had happened.” Almost everyone would complain and less people would do their part in the idea of upbringing the society.

    Leadership cannot just be uttered as “leadership” nonetheless of what form or kind of leadership that is. There are many types, but which among them. The country had had a lot of good leaders, as I can say. The late president Ferdinand Marcos was a leader par excellence during his first term, however, due to the people around him, greed occurred that he was labeled as a dictator.

    Now, I would firmly believe that in order to raise the Philippine economy, what the country needs is another dictator-a dictator that everyone would follow, a dictator that is not corrupt, a dictator who has great plans for the people, and a dictator who has the heart of a leader.

  18. Ross says:

    The root cause of where the Philippines is now are greed and selfishness which corrupts a leader when he or she is in power. If the leader is bad, it then trickles down to the end.

    It is not because of our religion or because of our race. It is who our leaders choose the lead the country to.

    Why do we have bad roads, it is because people in construction pocketed the money to build good roads. We have foreign nationals investing but are not getting anywhere (NAIA3) because people like Mike Arroyo wants to get money for nothing. Yes, bad leaders are good at making dirty money.

    We have Filipinos getting out of the country and doing good things? Because not all Filipinos are like the leaders who are bad.

    What would happen if we have a good leader who cares more for the good of the nation than himself – Prosperity will happen, much like other developing nation like Japan, Korea, US where the tax money goes back to the people in terms of services, good roads, help to the poor and needy.

    That is why it is important to elect a good, Christian leader. Not because of popularity but because we know that he will have integrity and to lead the Philippines away from corruption and towards development.

    Unless the Filipino people gets wise to do this, then we will never get out of the hole we put ourselves in.

  19. Dominic Romero says:

    Sir, two years have since passed from your article. I believe sir that this country is now moving forward, Spanish though is being taught now in college.

  20. isalimoko says:

    though years have passed, this is still a good read.

    please check out Rizal’s essay — “The Indolence of the Filipino”, I think this explains some answers…

  21. MILKY says:

    The fate of our country should not be blamed from other people, from single individual…… but all of us filipinos….. generally we filipinos do not love our country. we are pretending to be, yet we do not….

  22. ian martin says:

    There is gross corruption, the oligarchs at the top as you said in previous post are very bad people, and the roman catholic influences and corruption all play a part.
    Also appointees made by outgoing filipimo leaders based on cronyism not talent and an unjust slow legal system, encouraging vigalamteism.

    But i prefer a more mundane economic reason, laws limiting foreign ownership that has created huge private monopolies.
    But since this post, Philippines as a nation has been doimg much much better but the wealth has not filtered down.

  23. Alex Cawthorne says:

    Really found this interesting. I’ve just returned from my first trip to the Philippines where I stayed in Cebu. Considering that the economy is supposed to be booming right now I was stunned at how many people were not working at all, or OJT as they call it (On Job Training) but unpaid which is just a great way for employers to get labour.

    I’m lucky enough to have a sort of adopted family out there as my sister is married to a Filipino and I count all his family back in the Philippines as my own 2nd family now. They follow Catholicism unquestionably with the “Bahala Na” attitude but my guess is most people aren’t well educated enough to know any different.

    They’re such happy, beautiful people but for such devout Catholics I have a problem with some of their honesty. Sadly the Catholic Church isn’t the most honest institution and has problems in many ways so maybe we shouldn’t blame them. It’s all about money for every single Filippino you meet..the hope and dream they can make a better life for themselves and their family. It’s such a shame that they cannot do this in their own country and they all dream of leaving to work overseas.