Plight of the Filipinos part 2…. where are we headed to…

In  1877,  the  recorded  population  of  the  Philippines  was  5,567,685.   One hundred and  thirty-two  years  later    in 2009,  the  Philippines   ballooned  to  become  the  12th  most  populous  country  in the world  with   over  92  million.  It  was  estimated  that  in 2010,  Philippine  population rose  to  a  figure  of  over  94 million.  Around  half  of that  number  reside  in Luzon.    There  had  been estimates  that Filipinos  abroad  count  between  9 to 11 million.  Adding the 2010 population  and  Filipinos  abroad  lead   us  to  an astonishing  101 over  million  Filipinos!,  the estimated  population  as  of  July 2011.  

Should you  be  a  little  bit  more  curious  about  our  demography,  I have  listed  below  some  statistics:

Age structure:

0-14 years: 34.6% (male 17,999,279/female 17,285,040)
15-64 years: 61.1% (male 31,103,967/female 31,097,203)
65 years and over: 4.3% (male 1,876,805/female 2,471,644) (2011 est.)

Rate of birth

3.19 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Population  growth rate

1.903% (2011 est.)

For  purposes of proportion, the  population living  below  USDollar1.25 a day  is  23%  or equivalent to 20 million.   Those living  with  less than  USDollar2 per  day is  about  44%  or  over  40 million  Filipinos.   These figures  alone  will  tell us  that  poverty  line  is very much at a  high percentage and has  gone  to  a  tremendous  level of  over 35 to 40%,  and that is almost  half   the  entire  population.   It means as  well that  in  the capital  city of Manila,  poverty  is  very  much manifested  and truly  we  can  see  it  alongside  the streets  in the  areas of Tondo,  Quezon City,  even in  the  supposedly posh  Makati  City.   Poverty  continues  to increase  according to several  reports  and  it  appears  that it  will just  keep on growing and  growing.  Of course  there  are  reasons  why  poverty  reduction  cannot  just  seem  to work.  Consider  the following:

High population growth  is  a  factor.  With  2%  annual  growth rate  over the past decade,   it gives additional  burden  on the cost  of household living and demand for  basic needs. 

There is an income  inequality because the poor  get  only  5%  of the total income and consumption.

The government is  unable to provide  basic service  needs  sufficient  enough  to the  poorer remote areas.

Poor  performance  of  the agriculture sector.

No employment  opportunities  created for the poor. 

Vulnerability of poorer communities to natural disasters and civil unrest which adversely affects livelihoods.

Economy is bad.  The  manufacturing sector  is  small  and public and private investment low. Unemployment and  underemployment continue to remain  high.   The  possibility  of  securing a  well-paid  job  is  beyond  the reach of  many.   Because  of  these  conditions,  many  Filipinos are  led   to migrate  overseas to  secure better  paying jobs.

With the estimated  11 million Filipinos  abroad,  remittances  really help  the  consumption-fuelled  Philippine  economy and  account for  at  least  10%  of the  country’s  GDP.  But  the  economy  cannot  just  rely  on what  we  can  call  as  “foreign assistance”  from the  Filipinos  abroad.  Although the remittances play  an important macro-economy  stabilising  role,  it is  uncertain whether  it extends to the  poor.  We  can also say   that  the  dimensions  of  remittances  are  disproportionate  because  poorer  households  have  less access to  them and  only  middle and high income  households  are able to enjoy  the “fruits  of  what is received abroad”. 

Unless  measures  are  immediately  taken,  Filipinos  will continue  leaving the country  to  seek  and  find  “greener pasture”,  because  access to the  pasture in the Philippines   is  going  beyond  their  reach.  And  the  poorer  will even  be  poorer,  if  it can  be  said that way.     So perhaps the Filipinos abroad  can  take a  longer  step  to help  in any  possible  manner  the Filipino  poor,  unless  we want to  allow  the Filipino poor  to  go  deeper  into the  abyss of  poverty.   Is  it  there  we are headed to?….just  asking.

Till  next  time…Eric


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