By RUDY D. LIPORADA
According to a lifted post on Facebook posted by my columnist friend, Zena Sultana Babao, Filipinos are a world class people. “According to a CNN report, Filipinos are now the second highest earning ethnic group in the USA (Indians are #1, Caucasians are #6). We are one of the ethnic groups least likely to go on welfare, we have one of the lowest crime rates and our children are attending the best schools and colleges. Given the right environment, we thrive and blossom. We have now become the emerging elite of America because we dream big, work hard, pray more and sacrifice more for family and kin back home who are in need.”
Given its colonial ties and current relationships with America, there are 3.5 million Filipinos in the United States. Moreover, according to a Population Review, “In addition to the over 100 million Filipinos living in the Philippines itself, there are estimated to be around 10.2 million Filipino people living abroad. Many have moved abroad temporarily to find work, but others have settled abroad permanently. There are also large Filipino populations in the Middle East (1 million in Saudi Arabia, 822,000 in the United Arab Emirates and 204,000 in Qatar), Malaysia (793,000), Japan (182,000) and Australia (397,000.). Interestingly, only about 42,000 Filipinos live in Spain, the Philippines’ old imperial master.” One would assume that those who choose to stay abroad, do for they thrive and blossom there, too.
Given this Filipino DNA class in the United States and other countries, the question is why is it that out of the 107.5 million Filipinos, the National Statics Coordination Board (NSCB) reported in 2012 that one third or 30% of Filipinos are extremely below the poverty line, subsisting barely on $1.25 a day. Where there is a classification of Class A, or upper class, or the 1%, then Class B, or middle class, then Class C, or urban poor, poor, or low wage earners, the NSCB further reports that those in the B and C classes “In order for a family of five to escape the label of “extremely poor” in 2006, they would have had to earn P1,681 ($39.09) a month. In 2009, they needed to bring home P2,042 ($47.49). By the 2012 survey, those income requirements more than doubled. The most recent NSCB report shows that families must earn P5,458 ($126.93) a month to put food on the table every day. If they want to meet non-food needs, such as clothing, they would have to earn P7,821 ($181.89).”
What should be more perplexing is the fact that the Philippines is endowed with natural resources. Amado Guerrero, in his book, Philippine Society and Revolution, says that the Philippine “mountains, many of which are volcanic, the extensive river systems and the tropical climate endow the Philippines with extremely fertile agricultural lands suitable for wide variety of crops for food and industrial use. It has vast forest, mineral, marine and power resources. Its forests cover a little over one-third of the land. Its mineral resources include iron, gold, copper, nickel, oil, coal, chrome and many others. Its principal rivers can be controlled to irrigate fields continuously and also to provide electricity to every part of the county. It has rich inland and sea fishing grounds. Numerous fine harbors and landlocked straits are available for buildings up the maritime industry.” Guerrero then concludes “If the natural wealth of the Philippines were to be tapped and developed by the Filipino people themselves for their own benefit, it should be more than enough to sustain a population several times bigger than the present one.”
It is not really perplexing when we consider that the majority of the Philippines could not take advantage of these resources, the “right environment,” where Filipinos could “thrive and blossom” because of the one percent of the population. This Class A one percent, mostly feudal lords, control the government in cahoots with foreigners who plunder the resources which should be the “right environment for the majority of Filipinos. American imperialists for example rule the mines. Now China controls the Philippines Seas and even the West Pacific Seas making Filipinos even import fish now when all islands are surrounded by salt water. For an agricultural country, Filipinos now even import rice because those in control of the lands even rent out their fields for cash crops that benefit foreign investments. Mining results to deforestation which destroys the ecosystems of the country resulting in severe flooding and erosions that have snuffed lives.
And because this kind of system where the feudal lords and foreigners benefit, they keep the Philippines in an agricultural feudal system and foreign controlled status. Industrialization is thus discouraged resulting in massive unemployment and underemployment with corollary low wages. This resulted to brain and brawn drain where Filipinos who have the chance go abroad where they are “given the right environment” to “thrive and blossom.”
Yes, there are a few like Senator Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao who thrived and blossomed in his kind of environment but how many boxers went mentally deranged, physically disabled, and the like trying to be like him? And yes, while the majority are proud that the Miss Philippines Catriona Gray was crowned Miss Universe, becoming the fourth Philippine native to win the crown, how many of the Filipinos lives were uplifted by this? And since Gloria Diaz, the Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa first Filipina Miss Universe, how many of the majority Filipinos have been awakened from being lulled by telenovelas and other fantasies allowed by the government for Filipinos to be unaware of their thriving and blossoming in the right environment?
Clearly, for the Filipinos to be aware of their resources that should benefit them, they should be aware of the situation they are in and create the right environment for them to thrive and blossom. My friend said start with “Get rid of the dictators first.” They are part of the current environment which is not “right” for thriving and blossoming of the majority of Filipinos.
Then, maybe the Filipinos could be world class people, not only the USA but in their own Motherland. # nordis.net