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Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to the Asian countries - China, The Philippines, Thailand, etc.
Dubai adds to the Philippines' woes
By Joel D Adriano
MANILA - The Philippines avoided a technical recession amid the global economic downturn, but recent indicators point to a less buoyant recovery than in other developing economies in the region.
The Philippine economy is now poised to grow at its slowest level in over seven years and economic analysts believe it will remain sluggish over the next two years due to rising debt and laggard investment levels.
The government announced growth of only 0.8% in gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter compared with a year earlier, below the 1% to 1.5% private economists had previously forecast. The weaker-than-projected result was linked to a sustained decline in manufacturing, which fell by 7.6% year on year due to weak exports and declining new investment.
That bad news was compounded by a downward revision to second quarter growth, which was officially pared back to 0.8% from an initial 1.5% estimate on weaker-than-expected growth in services and the smaller-than-expected impact of a 330 billion pesos (US$7 billion) economic stimulus plan intended to create jobs and boost domestic demand.
At current rates, the country's GDP growth will drop just below the government's full-year growth target of between 0.8% to 1.8% and fall off substantially from last year's 3.8%. Nikhilesh Bhattacharyya, an associate economist at international ratings agency Moody's, expressed his concerns over the consistent disconnect between the government's rosy assessments and the underlying economic and financial realities.
Many international economic analysts, investment banks and donor organizations had earlier revised their growth figures up only to realize later the unreliability of government estimates and data. The government now projects GDP growth of between 2.6% to 3.6% in 2010, which factors in an expected boost from election-related spending in the first five months of the year.
Those positive projections are already being met with skepticism among economic analysts in light of the apparent upward fudging of official statistics earlier this year.
National Economic Development Authority director-general Augusto Santos says that he expects a "slow" and "volatile" recovery next year.
Throughout the global downturn, the Philippine economy has relied heavily on foreign remittances from an estimated 11 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Remittances are on course to reach US$16 billion this year, representing the main driver of domestic consumption and well over 15 times the amount attracted in new foreign investment.
Future remittances, some analysts warn, could take a hit from Dubai's emerging debt crisis. According to data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, about 20% of newly hired and rehired OFWs last year landed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), of which Dubai is one of seven members. More than 80% of Dubai's workforce consists of foreign workers and OFWs are believed to be its largest source of labor.
Of the estimated 350,000 to 500,000 Filipinos now living and working in the UAE, about 250,000 are based in Dubai. Many of these workers first arrived as "tourists", adding to their vulnerability to deportation with the mounting downturn. Migrante, a non-government organization, reports that OFW salary payments in the UAE now face delays, while some OFWs have agreed to take pay cuts rather than be sent back to the Philippines.
Back home, storms and flooding on the main island of Luzon, including in the capital Metro Manila region, are expected to significantly dampen fourth-quarter growth and will stretch further state finances as the government struggles to rebuild vital infrastructure and damaged farms.
Agricultural output figures are expected to decline as the sector suffered storm-related damage estimated at 47 billion pesos. The storm-hit regions account for two-thirds of the economy. Romulo Virola, head of the National Statistical Coordination Board, estimates the storms could trim fourth quarter GDP growth by 0.6%.
A post-disaster needs assessment report issued by the World Bank estimated that overall damage and losses to crops, properties and infrastructure from typhoons Ketsana and Parma reached $4.4 billion, or 2.7% of the country's GDP. It also estimated that the storms, which the bank described as the worst natural disaster in the region since the tsunami of 2004, pushed some 480,000 Filipinos into poverty.
"Total income lost due to the disaster amounted to 50.3 billion pesos, which particularly affected informal workers," the report said.
Rising debts, falling potential
It is now easy to forget that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presided over 7.2% GDP growth in 2007, the fastest clip the country experienced in over 31 years. Yet some economists saw the temporary surge as more of a statistical illusion than a sustainable trend, given that poverty incidence has worsened during the eight years Arroyo has been in power.
Cielito Habito, an economics professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, estimates that 35% of the population now lives under the poverty line, up slightly from 33% in 2006. Meanwhile the percentage of the population considered "poor" has remained close to two-thirds of the population over the past two decades, although the absolute number could have doubled given the rapid increase in population.
Under Arroyo, a US-trained economist, corruption has been rampant and some of the highest profile cases allegedly involve the first family. In terms of corruption, the Philippines ranks better than only three of its Southeast Asian neighbors - Timor-Leste, Cambodia and Myanmar - at 139th out of the 182 economies surveyed in Transparency International's 2009 Corruption Perception Index. A survey conducted last year by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy among expatriate businessmen ranked the Philippines as one of the four most corrupt countries in Asia.
Many Filipinos are optimistic that the cycle of corruption could be broken with the outcome of the 2010 presidential elections, in which Arroyo is legally not allowed to stand. Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is the present front runner in the presidential race, with fellow senator and self-made billionaire Manuel Villar running second, according to recent opinion polls. Many among the business community hope that either candidate will prioritize more transparency and less corruption in government.
Regardless of the winner, the Philippines' next president will have only marginal macroeconomic room to maneuver. Arroyo's government has already transcended this year's 250 billion pesos budget deficit cap with deficit spending of 266.1 billion pesos through October. That pump-priming represents nearly four times last year's total shortfall of 68.1 billion pesos.
Benjamin Diokno, former budget secretary and professor at the UP School of Economics, said this year's total deficit will likely breach 300 billion pesos, or 3.8% of GDP. The Arroyo administration has projected an additional deficit of 233.4 billion pesos for 2010. Some analysts fear the growing debt load could weaken the currency and spark new inflation, even with the growing weakness of the US dollar.
The government is banking on revenues generated from privatization, including its contested stake in the San Miguel Corp, worth an estimated 50 billion pesos, to help cover future shortfalls. Other state assets on the block include the 103-hectare Food Terminal Inc (FTI), worth an estimated 13 billion pesos, and a stake in the Philippine National Oil Co Alternative Fuel Corp, expected to raise 11 billion pesos for government coffers.
Those fund-raising plans, however, look increasingly shaky. The government's attempts to float shares in FTI failed to generate investor interest last month for the third time this year due to what one official characterized as a "gloomy business environment". Meanwhile the anti-graft court, Sandiganbayan, has not yet affirmed the legitimacy of the state's ownership of the San Miguel shares it hopes to sell. They were first seized under questionably legal circumstances in 1986 after dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted from power.
The failure to dispose of state assets will likely force the government to rely on bond sales to finance this and next year's budget shortfall. As one of the most active global debt issuers, the Philippines has long relied on international bond markets to cover its budget deficits, which ballooned to a record 266.1 billion pesos this year.
In October, the government floated an additional $1 billion in 25-year bonds, bringing total foreign debt issuances this year alone to $3.25 billion. Next year it is looking towards a Samurai bond issue as part of a $2 billion foreign debt issuing plan. But the cost of raising funds offshore is expected to rise with the Dubai debt crisis and the Philippines growing deficits. Samurai bonds are denominated in yen and issued in Tokyo by a non-Japanese entity while being subject to Japanese regulations. The benefits to the issuer access to capital in Japan and can be used to hedge foreign exchange rate risk.
Meanwhile, the overall competitiveness of the Philippines is declining. The Swiss-based International Institute of Management Development last month ranked the countries last of 13 Asia-Pacific countries included in its 2009 World Competitiveness Yearbook. The poor assessment was based mainly on the country's poor infrastructure and stubbornly high population growth and poverty rates.
Economists say Philippine GDP must grow by over 7% consistently for the next 10 years to reduce poverty levels by half, in line with the government's commitment under the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. That is a trajectory it has achieved only once in over three decades. The Philippines may have survived the recent global economic crisis, but Arroyo's successor will face substantial economic challenges.
Joel D Adriano is an independent consultant and award-winning freelance journalist. He was a sub-editor for the business section of The Manila Times and writes for ASEAN BizTimes, Safe Democracy and People's Tonight.
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher, 121-180 A.D.
35% live in poverty? They must be dreaming or have some really low definition of poverty. I have never been to any
region of the Philippines where only 35% were in poverty...it is the majority of the population that lives in poverty.
And corruption under GMA? Huh? Corruption has ruled the country since its founding, GMA is just another example.
The ruling elites have the plantation mentality...lords and serfs....and for them, life is fine.
On the bright side, many young people are now often online, and they have far more knowledge of the outside world than
their parents did. This will change the country in time. Many Filipinos are such hospitable, likable people, and it is a shame
that they are stuck with the culture of governance that prevails. The eyes of poverty in children, those who are the poorest of the poor..living in squatter shacks...those are some of the hard sights here. If there is hope, I think it must come from outside the current culture, which I think is unable to generate solutions to the deep problems that prevail.
One other positive, personally it is possible for have such a large effect on a child's life here for only a few dollars a month.
It is easy for foreigners with decent incomes to sponsor some children in school, and to watch them progress.
It is very gratifying to go to a school graduation, and see several young people get their diplomas due to the fact that you were
a Ninoy in their life. When such a young person says "Thank you! Thank you for giving me my life!" it is humbling, and makes one recognize some priorities in life.
I'd be willing to bet it won't change jack shit. Filipinos are some of the most psychologically damaged people i've encountered abroad. The inferiority complex they have is immense. The Filipinos that see the western world just wants to escape being Filipino entirely by marrying and changing their name asap. They don't have the confidence or fortitude to better themselves and that's just the sad fact.
Filipinos want to escape being Filipino? Huh? Within the USA, most Filipinos BY FAR do not attempt to hide being Filipino, usually send money home, and very frequently plan on retiring "back home" when they can. In addition, there are countless activities
related to being Filipino in any area of the USA that has large Filipino populations.
Sure there are plenty of problems in the Philippines, as in MOST third world countries. Collectively, the country lacks both confidence and fortitude, yet I see many individual Filipinos overcoming great odds and raising families under difficult circumstances....and as I said, the forces that will most change the Philippines for the better are likely to come from the outside, as the culture itself is unlikely to generate the changes needed.
Now when I lived in Thailand, I did note that Thais did not suffer at all from an inferiority complex, even on issues it was richly deserved. They were pretty convinced that Thais are the super-race of SE Asia, and that generally, their shit did not stink.
You can live for a long time in Thailand before any Thai family will invite you into their home. Most will gladly take your money, but rest assured, they do not like you...."Thailand, land of friendly (fake) smiles"...
But to be sure, change will be slow....too slow for the millions that languish in poverty. Personally, the change I see the most, is the change I contribute to creating.
Filipinos have the highest outmarriage rate out of ANY asian ethnicity. It's ludicrously high. From my experiences with Filipinos they are all too willing to marry the first decent foreigner they meet and do have a certain complex about being Filipino. They just see "foreign" as better and worship pop western media. This extends to a very internalized view about their own culture and their place in Asia and by extension the world. The well educated moneyed filipinos are a bit better off when it comes to this but there's still a very strong rationalization that they feel integration and assimilation is better.
Thais can certainly be arrogant and have a very distorted view of themselves but in my opinion it's not unhealthy to have a positive world image of your nation and people. Some of it is undeserving some of it deserving but i've also seen lots of Thais be extremely self critical. I don't feel they are any more or less nationalistic than a lot of westerners that I meet. I'd say Thais are certainly less nationalistic than your typical American.
Thais can be rather complex with their worldview if you let them run all over you they will but if you put your foot down and learn how to play the game better than they do they respect you for it.
For Asian American women, Koreans have the highest out-marriage rate. But it's pretty close with Filipinas:
Btw, I don't consider asian-americans racially outmarrying at all because the person's nationality and self identity is still American so it's just a racial crossover which has its own social implications but only in terms of American society. I'm referring more to the large number of Filipinas who outmarry globally to Europeans and other asian nationalities from the Phillipines or from their stints working abroad. It's sky-high and comparable with even the other traditional high % "mail order bride" countries like Russia.
I wish all these bad economic news would drive the peso down a bit so that it would again be at 56 to the greenback. With all the corruption and economic downturn it is a still a strong currency.
As far as the inferiority complex, well, it is there but it is only apparent if you speak English. Once you move into the Tagalog/Visyan speaking world, things change. And also, I have been to Mindanao and the people there treat everyone the same and there is no complex at all. Also, native tribes ( uncolonized) and the Muslim population have no complexes whatsoever and treat white people as well, equals. As most Mindanawans do.
The Thais are the only third world country that thinks that it is a great empire and a leader of a continent. They are Pan-Asianists who think their Manifest Destiny is be the bulwark of resistance against Western colonization of Asia. I would rather deal with the Filipino complexes than with a country poorer than Ukraine that thinks it is a world power.
Thais are not as nationalistic as Americans? Just slightly. But pretty close. And try and learn Thai and see what people are saying. It will make your blood boil.
I hate Thailand myself. And I do not hide it.
A brain is a terrible thing to wash!
You pretty well captured my sentiments. I travel in Mindanao as well, and you are quite right in your observations. There is even a Mindanao independence movement. Thai pretense is a joke, and as you say, if you become fluent in Thai (Which I am not)
and hear what Thais routinely say about you as a foreigner, you will start to detest them. Even with its problems, I would rather spend time in Mindanao anytime vs Thailand. I could go on and on, but if someone likes Thailand and Thais, it's a free world (kind of...unless you say something true about the Thai Royals while in Thailand, in which case you can go to prison)...myself I would prefer the Philippines...warts and all...
Interesting. I'm not surprised some regions vary vastly due to culture since the Phillipines is a 90 million person patchwork of islander and ethnic people. Most of my experiences have been with big city middle class educated Filipinos from places like Manila and Cebu. How well they reflect the Filipinos as a whole i'm not certain but there is a definite pattern when it comes to the attitude and personality of the ones I have met abroad. The Phillipines is one country I would definitely like to visit in the near future to get a better sense of it.
The Vietnamese are actually more ethnocentric but they actually have quite a bit of substance to their attitude since most of them are hard headed but very determined people when given the opportunity to shine. Thais are what you would call "All bark, no bite" in more ways than one they are like the modern day French. Their self image is not congruent with people's perception outside their nation. With that being said I do think you are being a little hard on them Ladislav. I'd like to hear more about your experiences in particular and what year you lived in Thailand since there are some differences in your being a white westerner and my being an asian-american. I still don't think the differences could be that extreme. I have met fairly young white europeans who speak Thai and who don't seem to have many problems getting along in Thailand too. It's possible that maybe you just had a series of negative experiences?
I understand quite a bit of Thai and have lived here for awhile. I understand the mentality and at times it's an odd mix of fear and loathing of foreigners but also envy at wealth. Not all Thais exhibit this attitude though. Like I said I have met an equal number who were very self critical as well.
The Thais do not detest you as a ' foreigner', they detest you as a non-Oriental. Their educational programs teach them that they are some kind of great empire with a great king ready to stand in the way of western colonization. In some restaurants you do not gets erved and many night clubs are closed to you.
I had Malaysian and Korean friends and it was annoying to see how they were becoming accepted, having women and families and assimilating themselves into the society while people would be glaring at me barking "farang- farang". Not all people were like that but the percentage is uncomfortably high and you have to live with such resentment on an almost daily basis. Many people also just ignore you at work and do not even say "hello". Basically, it is a racial thing. It is different in tourist areas where there is a mini world of Thais serving tourists but it changes when you go out of that sphere. Those people who like Thailand are invariable those who cannot understand the language or cannot compare or those who live in tourist areas and do not really know what is going on, or those who are of Oriental race themselves.
If any Asian American would like to gloat and see that a white guy can suffer discrimination from Orientals as well, he should go and see the full scenario play out.
I found the Thais to be even more racist than the Japanese! At least the Japanese respect white people, although they may not like them, whereas in Thailand, you are not even respected.
Thais are the Oriental Rednecks. It is some kind of twilight zone country designed to punish white people who had treated the Yellow race badly. Was I one?I have had friends who got married there and they would report people following them on the streets, mocking them and all. Or even in a department stores clerks would start mocking, making fun of you and all. And no decent Thai girl would date a white guy. Only the very very poor or very ugly or non virgins etc. Or those who are not ethnically Thais. And you try talking on the phone and if you have an accent in Thai they will often just hang up, screaming and mocking you and laughing openly in the receiver. A crazy place! Most people have a 6th grade education and they think they are better than everyone. Dealing with ignorant arrogance like that sucks.
Oh, how blessed are those who are aware of alternatives! Zooooooooooooooooom! I am out and in the Philippines and all this nightmarish sh*t stops! Those who say that the problem is *me*, are full of sh*t! Change countries and people change magically. And the Immigration is easy and they treat you nice and all. Then off you go to Mindanao. You want to see uncolonized peoples? Try the T'boli or B'laan of Mindanao. I have been hanging out with these two ethnic groups and they have no complexes, they treat white people as anyone else, no special respect or scorn or anything. And their culture is amazing:
No Spanish surnames, no Catholicism- they are Protestants and act independent and dignified without arrogance. They just treat you as an equal. None of that fake crap. And tell me if the dances below are any worse or less exotic than the exotic Thai dances.
The only good thing about Thailand is the food. But you can find a Thai restaurant in any big Philippine city and your problem has been solved.
Thailand! ^&*( you!
A brain is a terrible thing to wash!
You will need to come and live here to get the picture. English-speaking Filipinos living in Western countries do not reflect the overall feel of the country. And Filipino Americans are even less Filipino.
Red herring! What does Vietnam have to do with it? I have never been to Vietnam so I cannot make any comments.
And the bark is expressed in daily insults, mockery, angry flashes of the eyes, scorn etc. All on the daily basis. I am very observant and I can see things that other people simply ignore. Let me ask you- do you like for people to call you 'Oriental'- daily or "Gook" several times a day and laugh at you? Even if not all are doing it?
Most nationalists' exaggerated view of themselves ( including Americans' is not shared by other nations).So? What is your point? That it is better for white guy to be in Thailand than the Philippines? I say, hell, no!
Not hard enough!. 1992-1996.
You are welcome to have your opinion. I say- Yes, they could. Enormous! Oriental looking people are generally treated as brothers, white people are not. How woudl you know? Try and put on white skin and live there for 3.5 year like I did. And learn fluent Thai. Then we will talk.
It is like me trying to say that Blacks have no problems in the US. I did not see those problems. But I am not Black so I would never know what it would be like to grow up Black. Or Hispanic in the US. I am not one. And I am not an Asian American so I do not know what people like Japanese Americans went through and the dating problems in the US and what it is like to be an Asian American. Because I am not one. I can only imagine, but I do not go denying it or blaming the victim.
I have seen some Blacks and Hispanics in the US who are well integrated in the white soceity and they do not seem to have many problems. Few. But again, they did not seem not having problems *to me*, how would I know what they go through on a daily basis, the way people look at them. There have been Asian Americans here on this board who claim that they never ever had problems dating in the US. Can you imagine? Ok, good for them and congratulations!
Again, you are using a ' not all are like that' argument. That is not the point. Not all soldiers are shooting at you on the battlefield during the war. If the frequency and intensity of negative racist treatment is large enough for me, I get out. I did. In 19 years of coming to the Philippines I had 1/10000th of the resentment I had experienced while in Thailand in 3.5 years.
It is like saying not all Afrikaners are racist. Not all Palestinains hate Israelis. But you would not want to be an Israeli living on the West bank would you? You would not want to be a Black guy living among Afrikaners, would you? Or a Jew living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia? There is an uncomfortable level of loathing of white people for my taste, uncomfortable frequency of daily/weekly unpleasant incidents, eyes rolling, lips curled, and just general sarcastic and scornful looks on a daily /weekly basis. Too frequent for my taste. People ignoring you and all. Maybe those white people just do not care. There are some white people living in Japan and Korea and all and they have learned to live with it, developed thick skin and all.
And yes some Thais are self critical. So what of it?
Unless you yourself are a white man in a white skin in Thailand living there on a daily basis, doing business, dating ( trying to date) and you understand and speak Thai like me, you would never know the full picture. But for a person with Oriental features, by my observations, nothing like that looms. But again, I would not know. But based on very close friendship and being together in Bangkok with Japanese and Malaysian people walking around, conducting business, etc there was a marked difference in the way we were generally treated.
A brain is a terrible thing to wash!
All I can say is..wow. I never got that impression at all from nearly 3 years of living in Thailand now. I've had several white western friends around the same age as I am living here and i've never heard them mention nor have I seen this sort of animosity towards your average white westerner. Ladislav, I think it would behoove you to come to Thailand at least one more time to see if it is like how you remember because I REALLY suspect that Thailand has changed a lot since when you were here.
I am not downplaying your experiences at all but what you are saying and what I see everyday is clearly NOT the same picture. I am not talking about my own personal experiences which are certainly different but those of white western friends etc.. who don't seem to have any problems. These days I see plenty of youngish looking white westerners in young Thai orientated university clubs with their Thai girlfriends walking around. Not all of them are "bargirl" types either.
I also see lots of half-caste "luk kreung" mixed racial men and women in Thai soap operas too and even a few farang who play bit roles. Could it be that Thais have become more westernized? I actually get that impression more than anything else.
I have no idea how they do it and why they do not have any problems. Maybe they just hate to admit it? Maybe they do not notice what the people are saying and do not understand the language. Or do not mind people calling them farang-farang on a daily basis. They may have met the GFs in circles in which people are interested in Western culture or English language learning. A small contingent of girls who may like white guys. They may not be observant enough. Or the whole thing may just be one big mystery. Maybe you are seeing surface/token things.
Again you may not see it because you are not white there, you do not live as a white man in the mainstream Thai society.
Mixed kids as actors and entertainers fair well in that industry and they do so in Japan and Korea. That is the niche where they can do well. Not so in the mainstream Thai society. You do not see such mixed kids in business for one, do you? Maybe Thailand has changed. I have no idea. It did not respond well to me and I left. I have known of quite a few guys who have left citing racism and nationalism.
Yeah, some people fit in. There are some blacks and Asians and Hispanics who have made it in the white mainstream of America, as well, and do not seem to have problems.
As long as they know their place.
I can say the same- I have black friends in the US, they have white girlfriends and and I do not see any racism against them. There is a black president in the US now. There are black actors on US TV. My black friends are not as a rule mentioning to me anything about racism. I also have other people of color in the USA as friends and they are not saying much and there are actors on TV who are Asian and Hispanic. Look at Jackie Chan and all those. So?
I have been kicked out of clubs, not allowed in etc. There are many private clubs that are for Thais ( or other Asians only). Seen those, been there. Maybe those people are just blissfully ignorant.
Go back to Thailand? Only on a B-52.
A brain is a terrible thing to wash!
I certainly agree with you about Mindanao. There is a strong guest culture and a laid back agreeable attitude. Mindanao and such places as Bohol are really the best places to be in the Philippines. I am well treated and it relaxes my mind and soul just to
be there. My Girlfriend is from General Santos...all the "Thai issues" why they are...how bad or serious...Thai royal family BS...that stuff is not on the horizon in Mindanao. I have a pretty decent place on Bohol here...great view...laid back people...