The Philippines witnessed a banner economic boom last year (2012), with a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth rate of 6.8%; and many financial institutions are predicting a 7.8% economic growth for the Philippines this year (2013). But, that’s not all. The Philippine Peso has continued to strengthen and our stock market has continued to grow since 2010. This is all well and good; but, the real question is: “Why is it that most of us haven’t felt this growth yet?”
Our GDP has been on the rise since mid-2011; yet, our country’s unemployment rate has actually increased, and our poverty rate has remained the same since 2006. Philippine unemployment went up from 6.9% in June 2012 to 7.5% in June 2013; and poverty has remained steady at around 28% since 2006. If you factor in the increasing population, it could only mean that both unemployment and poverty are actually going up! So, what’s the problem?
I’ll go out on a limb and just say it… I think that our “poverty” is by design. Yes, I really think some people want us to remain poor.
Why do I think this, you ask? Because it’s easier to manipulate the poor. Think about it. If you want anarchy, the poor are easily agitated. If you want to win an election, you only need to give money to the poor to assure yourself of votes. If you want loyal followers, the poor are easily swayed by doing a simple act of kindness to them or by giving them hope (some even use religion for this). And, in the course of their manipulations, human rights be damned!
Let’s face it… If you are corrupt and have money, the poor are simply tools to get your way. We’re simply pawns on the chessboard of some oligarchs, local government officials and even foreign governments. Actually, this Idea isn’t new. Our Spanish conquerors have been manipulating us this way for centuries… using money, weapons and religion to get their way. Today, some of their remnants are still doing this; and others have even followed suit.
So, how do they keep us poor? Simple. They just prevent the money from trickling down to us by keeping most of the money in their foreign bank accounts and properties. They apply for new loans with the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and make us pay these loans via our taxes (after more corruption has diminished it). They create over-priced or bogus projects to divert money to themselves. I could go on-and-on about this; but, I have a feeling you already know this.
It would have been more beneficial for our country if they invested the money they stole in some businesses that would earn money for them to spend in the Philippines; but, no… They spend it abroad on expensive trinkets (like million-dollar houses, expensive cars, lavish parties, etc.) that don’t earn any money for our country. Why? Because they have to keep us poor.
Sadly, the P-Noy administration, despite all its bravado, doesn’t have the political will to eradicate this… corruption.
If government and/or the oligarchs of our nation won’t help us, we need to help ourselves. We need to arm ourselves with the right information and the right attitude. This can only happen through education… the right kind of education. We, Filipinos, need the kind of education that will teach us HOW to think, rather than WHAT to think. All our lives we’ve been taught what to think; but now, we need to think for ourselves. We need to ask ourselves “why” and “how” things came to be, rather than simply accepting their existence.
With this type of education, we can teach our poor to see dole-outs for what they are… a means of controlling of us (through our poor). We need to teach our countrymen to fight against this dole-out mentality. If we really want to help the poor, we’ll teach them “how to fish” instead of just “giving them fish”.
So, how will this type of education help us reclaim the money stolen from us?
The right education develops a strong entrepreneurial-thinking middle class that can create its own opportunities. I’m not saying that we should all get into business. I’m merely pointing out that we should all think like entrepreneurs. By creating opportunities for our middle class, we divert much of the funding (which has regularly been stolen by corrupt individuals) to the people. In the process we create jobs and more opportunities.
By arming ourselves and our poor with the right education, we will no longer submit blindly to unscrupulous authority figures. We will have a free-thinking populace that have the potential to elect the right government officials, to voice our opinions to the powers-that-be and to stand up to those who would use the Filipino for his or her own self-centered motives.
Sure, we won’t get it right all the time; but, arming ourselves with the right education will, at least, give us a fighting chance. It’s something we can give our poor (and ourselves) today.
is the Managing Director of Our-Knowledge Asia and a Business Consultant for Local and Foreign Start-ups, SMEs and Organizations based in the Philippines.