Ricky M.'s Thoughts

My thoughts on life, relationships, religion, spirituality, the paranormal and more.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Philippines Isn't too Bad

After hearing so many times that the Philippines is financially deteriorating, I decided to ask people who grew up in the province. Just this week, I met a person who grew up in La Union. She said that life in her province isn't too bad. Actually based on the people I have asked in the past few months, it seems that life in the other provinces aren't also that bad. While income in the province is a lot lower than here in Manila, expenses are also much lower. With ten thousand pesos, all of the people I asked, claimed that one can leave a very reasonable simple life in the province. That amount of money would even include rent, electricity and water in a modest room which you need not share with anybody. That small room could even have a small kitchen.

Just a few years back, I had believed that life in the province was terrible. I would here stories of people with no jobs, or people who just aren't paid enough. I was told of stories in haciendas where people would remain poor. Yet here I was, talking to these supposedly poor people who work in manila with jobs as waitresses, bartenders and like that claim that life is fine in the province. So I asked them, if life is fine there, why did they come here. It seems that a number of the people who transfer here want to earn fast money working as guest relations officrs(GRO's) or work in similar industries. Others have just transferred because they find life in the province too dull. They say that sometimes the whole barrio is asleep by 8pm.

For those that come here due to poverty, I noticed that one major cause was having too many brothers and sisters. Their parents just could not financially support them. This condition was usually amplified if the parents would separate, or if the working parent would grow too ill to work. Sometimes, the children who come here are runaways who refuse to go to school or bolt from overly strict parents. Others are forced to stop school to work due to an unanticipated pregnancy.

If you notice, in the preceding paragraph, the reasons for poverty are really due to unforseen circumstances. Lack of planning, lack of discipline, or in the case of a parent not supporting his/her child just because he/she left his/her spouse for another person, lack of concern.

Filipino's are relatively a happy-go-lucky bunch of people. As I've heard, in other countries, you need an appointment to talk to your friend, in here talking and texting is a pasttime. In countries in the temperate zones, lack of foresight could be fatal in winter. With relatively better weather here, a lot of us have grown less determined to fight for survival. I also think Filipinos are too soft and too nice. When a worker does a job, sometimes he will not even quote his price, sometimes he just says that it is up to you. Worse, sometimes he may even refuse payment, even if he is poorer than the person he is doing the work for. In contrast there were two cases when a foreigner asked me to install internet on his computer. I just bought a 100 peso internet card to provide him with the service. After paying me for the card, they even insisted on giving me a few hundred pesos more.

I think that trouble starts when simple people work for ambitious people. Ambitious people will pay for what they can get away with, in contrast with what the work is worth. Simple people on the other hand will just take whatever is given. Is this what is happening to the provinces where poverty exists. Is this also what is happening in Manila. I really haven't interviewed enough people to say that this is the case.

What if the province only had simple people? Some would say that with no ambitious people, there would be no jobs. I don't think so, here in Manila, I have walked in these areas and have found that there are a lot of self employment which people could have. Some have a little grocery store. For those who can't invest as much, they could start a small tailoring business. They could fix electrical appliances. Others have little eating places, others sell rice, or barbecued food. In the province, I remember that our neighbor in the back even had a few pigs, and no, they didn't smell. Now, some people even sell cellphone load from their cellphones.

So we see that life is not so bad in the province. What surprised me though is that the person who I talked with a few days ago said that it is not hard even to be quite rich in the province. In La Union, she said that the people who have resorts which cater to tourists rake it in. I guess the idea is to cater to the people coming from Manila while having the low expenses in the province. She said that one just has to be hardworking to be fine. Take note, she said hardworking, she didn't say that one has to be intelligent or even have a college degree.


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