The Difference Between Poverty and Being Poor

Difference Between Poverty and Being PoorI’ve spent considerable time over the previous 20 years in and out of Mexico and California.  I now live in the Philippines, Cebu region.  I don’t mean to get entirely political here, that is not my intent.  I don’t want to get into how governments do this or don’t do that to either cause or abate the problem of poverty.  Rather I would like to share my first-hand observations over how three different cultures respond to the issue of poverty.  (Namely the US, Mexico and Philippines)


Growing up in Southern California, life was easy being raised as an upper-middle class kid in the Inland Empire area.  Until my parents divorced in the early 1970’s.  After that it was a struggle.  We lived with relatives for a period while my Mom went to school to get her GED equivalency and then to a local Junior College to study for a career as a Nursing Aide.  But that took 2 years.  In the meanwhile I quickly learned what it meant to be poor in a first-world country.  It sucked.  Never enough clothes.  Rarely the food I preferred.  (Though my Mom always managed to save up enough to get us one banana split a month.)  A proud woman raised to work hard she reluctantly accepted welfare for one year in order to attend school and make ends meet.  She then took herself off of public assistance to take on jobs at egg factories, a tamale factory (XLNT) and a scuba manufacturing company until she began her first year as a nursing assistant doing convalescent care.  Starting out, that didn’t pay very much.  She eventually pulled it all together and we were eventually back into a  lower, middle-class lifestyle after five years or so.  It wasn’t fast.  It wasn’t easy.  But she did it.

This was in the US and was the case with many single-mothers.  It still is.  Far too many irresponsible and missing fathers, but I’ll not digress on that.  These days I heard of a far different story around me as I prepared to leave the US.  Rants and demands from college age students tearing up the streets, soiling it with their feces in protest that the government should be “giving them” something for nothing.  This was not the attitude that took my Mom out of poverty.

Meanwhile, in Mexico the change of drug trafficking, which had always relied upon cocaine from distant Columbia, had changed during the early 90’s to a more local, Mexican, trafficking of Meth and created strong, local cartels which then began a violent war for territory closer to the border of California.  At this time I was then married to a woman from Mexico and we found ourselves there within the ‘Frontiera’ on a monthly basis.  I had previously spent much time in Mexico as a single man and I could see the landscape changing before my very eyes.  This was not the fun place to go and binge on tequila on public streets until 3am anymore.  ATM-kidnappings, public murders of uncooperative Police Chiefs, decapitated bodies behind my Mother in Law’s alleys were stark signs that not only had crime escalated, it was not the police who controlled things anymore.

The poor just wanted to work and earn a meager, humble living.  And to this day that is what many do.  There is no social program.  There is no real expectation of the People from their government that there will be a free check in the mail.  They know they need to work.  Somehow, someway. And work they do.  There are some factory jobs, so many go to work there.  Meanwhile in the US people will boycott or protest out of some bleeding heart empathy for Mexican wages not realizing that those factories are the best wages and conditions in the area.  Maybe not compared to their own Northern California coffee shop, college areas.. but damn good wages for Mexico.  So their protests and demands for ‘investigations’ over supposed civil rights violations only serve to hurt the Employer who is providing these jobs.  As is often the case, these liberals end up hurting the very people they lift up as a banner for their ego-induced cause.

But meanwhile, Mexican people who cannot ‘find’ a job do the next most sensible thing.. they ‘create’ a job.  They go into business for themselves.  There’s a saying, “A man’s hunger will work for him.”  Motivation.  You don’t need a degree in Business when your stomach is hungry to look around and figure out there’s a connection between supply and demand.  You look around you and see that if you can provide either a ‘product’ or ‘service’ that people around you NEED.. they will give you what little cash they have in a fair exchange for it.  To the credit of so many Mexican people I have seen them work hard and do everything from selling food to servicing tires.  And they do so without an education in business.  They do so without consulting their local government.  They just DO IT.

What I have seen in my short time here in the Philippines, regarding the willingness of the people to work is not much different.  Here there are no major drug lanes (that I know of) being trafficked specifically through Philippine hands.  It passes on barges along the Pacific, but is not the active trade that I see prevalent in Mexico.  Now, human-trafficking.. that’s another issue.  It’s a bit different from drugs and I’ll not digress into that rabbit-hole except to say that the average Filipino goes about their daily life without concerns about ‘turf wars’ between warring cartels.  What the human-traffickers do is pretty isolated from daily Filipino life as a whole.

Filipinos have impressed me with their sheer determination to work and EARN a living in whatever way they can.  I cannot speak for all 7,000+ islands since I have not traveled them all.  (yet)  However I can say that on the island of Mactan I have not once been approached by anyone asking for money.  Everyone I see around me is busy about their daily routine doing what they do to earn their way in life.  They are working in the malls, the call centers.. you know, the ones that are the brunt of so many jokes?  Just remember that at the other end of that line is a real, live PERSON who is just doing the best they can to earn enough pesos to feed their family, ok?  The Filipinos I see are out on the side of the street cooking food.. and I am so thankful for this!  In a few short blocks I can sample so many types of foods.  They are providing transportation with Trikes, Jeepneys, Taxis and even Bicycles with side-car.  In this heat.. that’s WORK.

These people are repairing motorcycles and giving haircuts with no more than a mirror, a pair of scissors and a chair beneath a banana tree.  I kid you not.  They are selling loads for cell phones, selling karaoke time, selling imported flip-flops from China, t-shirts.. whatever there is a need for they are out to earn an honest Peso.  Whether these people realize it or not they are esteemed by me as that class of people who are the Entrepreneurs.   They aren’t waiting on the government or anyone else for a handout.  They are out there.. making it happen, bringing in those precious pesos every day so they can lay an honest head on their pillows knowing they gave their best effort in providing for their families.  That demands a high level of respect in my book.

But how many times in the US have I been approached by some decently dressed stranger asking me for any “extra change” or “a couple dollars to catch the bus“?  Too many times.  I’ve had senseless teenagers approach me at the gas station and say to me, “Can you give us five or ten dollars?  We’re on our way back from Vegas and can’t make our way home.. can you help us out?”  My response to these two dimwitted girls of 21 years sent by their drunk boyfriends was, “You mean to tell me that out of six of you in that car.. not one of you had the brains to set aside gas money?”  They took that as a ‘no’ and moved on to ask someone else.

So.. my point in all this?  I’m not here to rant on governments.  And while the entitlement-minded shame of those who deserve a good tongue-lashing can rest I’ll not be giving it to them here..  (not today anyway.)  … rather I am here to extol the virtues of the Working Poor.  They are poor because they have very little funds to survive on. But they are not stricken with nor will they accept a condition of Poverty.  They refuse to lay down and succumb to their situation because even if there are no jobs (here in the Philippines unemployment is well over 50%).. they will find a way to provide a product or service that people need.  It might be a meager day’s wage that doesn’t give them a luxurious lifestyle.. but it puts food on the table and a roof over their head.  And to do that, in this blazing, unrelenting, daily humidity of 80% is nothing less than outstanding.  I respect the food vendors and those who provide the services I need.  I and they engage in a fair transaction that benefits each of us.  That’s how business is done.  It’s not charity, it’s business and any such person has my unmitigated respect.

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Now.. to the credit of some in the US, this reality has slowly been forcing itself upon them.  Prior to leaving Southern California there was a knock at my door one morning.  A man offered to clean up the headlights of my car from the dimming scum that had accumulated in exchange for $5.  It was something I could have taken care of, but never took the time to do.  He was offering me not only service but convenience.  I accepted his offer and we both got what we wanted.  He was done with doing a fine job within ten minutes.  I can reasonably suppose this man could make $60 to $100 a day if he devoted himself to the task.  Not bad for the investment of a $10 bottle of specialized-cleaner he got at the Auto Parts store.

Another man I saw in the US had a bicycle with a small bike-trailer behind it.  In it was everything he needed to do a car wash.  A large sign announced clearly to anyone in view.. “MOBILE CAR WASH – DETAIL”.  And he was getting exercise.  A small amount of investment, some hard work and that man was going to sleep well that night.  Exhausted, but peaceful with the knowledge he’d not let poverty become his way of thinking.

These are not just the sort of men and women who built the US.. these are the pillars of society in ANY nation.  These are the people who refuse to steal your purse or break into your home or sell drugs to your children.  These are the people, whether on a small scale or a larger scale who invest their time, money and effort to build a business.  First to provide for themselves and eventually, providing jobs for others.

For these reasons and observations I give a heartfelt ‘Thank You‘ and ‘Congratulations!’ to the people who still believe in earning money rather than waiting for someone to give them something for nothing.

Henry  ‘Reekay’ V.
www.lifebeyondthesea.com



 

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47 comments

  1. Hello Henry,
    I have just finished reading your well written article on the cultural differences you have lived within your life. It is a very good article and truly puts into perspective the lives of the Philippine people. I live in Canada but have spent some time in the Philippines over the last 5 years. I have a gf who is now living in Manila but she is from Mindanao.
    I too have seen how hard these people work and have become friends with many of them over the years. I have seen how a man I now call friend works as a waiter at a hotel in Zamboanga City from 3-11pm then drives a trike till 5 am then sleeps for 4 hours and goes back to drive trike till work time again. They amaze me and as you say in that heat and humidity it boggles the mind.
    I too am planning my move next year about this time to be with my gf and I am looking at Cebu as one of the places I am looking at locating too.
    I will look forward to more articles from you and enjoy your experiencing the culture as I hope to when I move there.
    Again, well written.
    Mark

    1. Thanks Mark. That’s great that you have a Filipina in your life and I highly recommend the Cebu area for so many reasons. The area is protected from the major typhoons/floods and it is not so congested like Manilla. I’ve found the people here very courteous and helpful. Their work ethic is one I still have difficulty wrapping my mind around. Raised in American culture and with my trade in online services it’s incredible, such as the man you cited, how hard people work here to make honest money. I know there are exceptions to any group and have heard stories of some who are not so noble. But as a whole, I find the Filipino culture to be a very warm and welcoming one. Good luck in your plans and feel free to keep up on my travels here. Hopefully they will be of some use to you when you and your g/f make your way out here together.

  2. Henry

    How happy I am after reading your article. It gets very old reading blogs and articles that tear down the filipino for there way of life or lack of productivity. I sure would like to see the average American make a living in the islands. You are correct they are a hard working people and still have time to love family and friends.

    1. Completely agree. At first I wondered if it was a ‘Catholic’ influence, but I’ve spent much time in Mexico (formerly married to a woman from Tijuana) and while there are many family-oriented, loving people there, not the degree I’ve experienced here in the RP (Republic of Philippines). I’ve yet to visit Manilla and, honestly, am in no hurry to do so. From all that I hear it’s VERY congested and urban living has a way of hardening people. Here in the Cebu area many people in the city still have their family, friends and roots in the provinces where life is much more conservative and simple. I think those ‘old-school’ values of having ‘civility’ irregardless of education or finances is a very noble tradition still held firm in the provinces. I have an Uncle who has served 2 tours in Vietnam, passed through the Philippines, lived in parts of Asia. He told me before I left for my trip, “Be open.. you’ll find they will have more to teach YOU than you’ll have to teach them.” Thus far, he’s been spot-on correct.

    2. I know that this thread is over a year old, but I just wanted to say how very much I appreciated this article. It was very objective and insightful. I am a very hardworking American and I couldn’t imagine how hard it must be to earn a wage in another country. I take for granted all of the opportunities that are presented to me everyday. I admire and respect all Filipinos for your wonderful resilience and honesty. Thank you.

      1. Filipinos get a hard rap between the female scammers, bargirls, cheating contractors, over-charing taxi-drivers, etc. Those are who the average short-term tourist runs into. But the working people, who are toughing it out every day are by and large working hard to put rice on the table for their families.

  3. It’s the sense of dignity that keeps so many people from begging. Liked the respect you displayed, throughout the article, to those who would rather die than stoop.

  4. Thank you so much for all your wonderful comments about the Philippines..
    Its More Fun in the Philippines! Mabuhay!

  5. Great perspective on differences in culture Henry. In all my years of traveling, I have always believed that Filipinos were some of the most ingenious people I have ever encountered. I don’t claim this because I’ve been married to one for over 26 years, but I learned this while traveling, living there, and serving alongside Filipinos during my Navy career. If you are ever in need of a product or service and you can’t find it, Filipinos will go out of their way to create it or build it for you. There is nothing they can’t or won’t attempt to do. They are some of the proudest people you will ever find. 🙂

  6. @Ken Celsa + 1 excellent.

    Henry, you can rest assured, it’s twice as bad here as when you left, you made a good move. I can’t wait to escape myself. It will still dilute my retirement income, but at least it won’t be staring me in the face all day. I literately can’t finish reading my healthcare options for next year, because it makes me angry and sick to my stomach. It looks like I can pick twice the premium, with half the coverage, or an insane deductable.

  7. I like your honest opinions and writings about the Philippines and its people. However, saying that the unemployment rate in the Philippines is 50% can't be further than the truth. The official unemployment in 2012 is 7% and this figure is 25.4% for Filipinos that are 18 years or older as reported by Ibon Foundation. I suggest that when presenting facts and figures that you check first their accuracy or state your source.

    1. Yes, you are correct. The official rate is reported at (currently) 7.5%, with an additional 19.2% as ‘Under-Employed’ Those who are fully employed are for the most part making meager wages, thus those who are working under 40 hours are barely making enough to justify the job apart from “some money is better than no money”.

      For this reason there is a huge poverty-level strata in the country, an almost non-existent middle-class base and again a small percentage of ‘rich’ upper-class. If you combine the ‘working poor’ and the unemployed, it’s safe to say that roughly 50% or more of the people in the Philippines are living in substandard 2nd or even 3rd world conditions combined. That would be a better way of phrasing it. ref; http://business.inquirer.net/126411/philippines-jobless-rate-soars-despite-record-growth

    2. As a side note, in the US the unemployment rate is reported to be at roughly 9%. However we already know that the US government is ‘fixing’ those numbers by not counting those who no longer receive unemployment aid as being unemployed. They literally subtract them from the number of unemployed when making their calculations. They also count ‘under-employed’ as ’employed’ to even further lower the percentage. A truer number of the unemployment rate in the US is more like 20%, but that is not what’s being reported.

      I would not put it past any government to under-report or ‘massage’ the numbers to save public face. Just something to keep in mind when looking at the daily reality most Filipinos face. A Filipina friend of mine spent 13 months trying to find a job and only 2 weeks ago finally landed one. The woman down the street is now on her 2nd island in search of a job. The fact that even fast-food employers can afford to weed out applicants if they don’t hold a college degree simply for a job frying potatoes tells us there is a HUGE unemployment base.

      1. YUp UNDEREMPLOYED is exactly what a lot of Filipinos are dealing with.

        When you have college educated folks pulling down 300 pesos a day at SM, THATS barely employed enough to make something of yourself. Good observations on the scene. Also spot on about the USA. I see it all the time living here in the Bay Area. We have the “richest” poor folks in the world here. Cars, Free phones now from the Government, and the steady flow of Welfare…and on and on it goes.

        1. Exactly. Being ’employed’, as hard a task as that is to even find a job in the PH for Filipinos.. is only a notch above no income at all. Anyone with eyes can walk the streets of shanty-towns here and see that even though they may have a son or daughter working at the mall, the family is barely squeaking by week to week. Splitting hairs over the employment percentage misses that obvious fact. Meanwhile, in the USA, under-employment is becoming a reality for more and more Americans every day.

      2. Yup, they started cooking the books on unemployment in the US back in the 70’s, to keep Jimmy Carter from being tarred, feathered and paraded around the streets of DC. Of course, all politicians fell in love with the idea, being the actors they are, and misrepresenting the numbers has not only been tradition, it’s been improved upon!

        http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2013/07/05/why-the-real-unemployment-rate-is-higher-than-you-think/

        http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/unemployment-charts

      3. That true Henry, and there are those that gave up on finding a job. The job statistics are skewed and not reality. I had a Filipina friend I chat with for a while that works in a Cebu factory and lives in the province with her family in order to support them. She gets up at 4am and gets home at 8pm eats and goes to bed 6 days a week. She is also a very nice girl, but I felt guilty chatting with her because of her time constraint. But she said that she would sacrifice if someone was sincere, she’s determined to find foreign husband and my future was uncertain at that time. So, I stopped chatting with her for her sake. But I’m definitely taking the plunge and move to Cebu the first half of 2014. There’s a difference between statistics and actuality(reality). Statistics can be skewed, reality is reality!

        1. I wonder what is considered as employment in the PH. In the US a fella that’s lost his job, and having some yard sales, selling on ebay, mowing lawns and not reporting it for taxes wouldn’t be considered employed. As far as working for another we have minimum wage, OSHA rules and a myriad of other regulations to make sure no ones feelings get hurt. Remember the Zappa song? “Don’t you mess with cowboy Burt, or he’ll get his feelings hurt…” No one wants to see a sad cowboy. Does a guy with a cart in the PH collecting bottles to recycle get counted as self employed? Or desperately seeking his next meal.

          Reekay, on US underemployment, Oct. 1 Obamacare is to begin, and many businesses have already cut back to less than 30 hours per employee, because they can not afford to pay for the newer, better, cheaper way. We are set to be in a lot of trouble. It’s not a liberal/conservative rep/dem thing, it’s very few in DC are fighting for their voters, almost all are hooked into the progressives agenda, one way or another. The few that have the guts and the morals to fight it are really receiving a lot of backlash from their peers on even their own side of the isle.

          Another thing to consider on the US unemployment numbers, the Gov issued ones, is that not only those who gave up on life or are off unemployment insurance, are not necessarily off it by choice. It comes to an end, normally after 26 weeks, although that’s been extended many times, they are essentially dropping off into the uncounted as fast as new unemployed come onto insurance, so that means a steady rate of unemployment may mean it is stable and staying the same, or it might mean many are giving up and going onto welfare or bought a cart with their last check, and the number is actually on the increase.

          1. Very dead-on points, I’m sad to say. Things are not looking good and it doesn’t take a PhD in Economics to figure it out. I really worry for the US. It’s been positioned into a really bad spot.

        2. In only one year I’ve come across so many genuinely, good Filipina women who are doing their best to deal with the hard breaks here. I wish I could help them all, but can’t. Life is hard enough for many of them, which is why I am so against guys who just lead them on with false promises. That’s just not right.

    3. Is working as a prostitute and controlled by a white slavery ring considered employment? Is working for a human trafficker under unbearable conditions and for meager wages called employment? Do you think working as a house boy, maid, nanny, tricycle driver or taxi driver called employment? All these people don’t pay income taxes because none of them make enough to even be on the lowest income tax level. if you are NOT paying income taxes, that means you are barely surviving. If you are barely surviving, then that is considered a part of the UNEMPLOYED. In fact in Canada, if a person has a family of 4 (husband wife and 2 children) and they are under the lowest income tax level, they are considered under the poverty level. They receive subsidies from the government and also get financial assistance from the government. I agree with Henry that the actual real unemployment rate is 50% in the Philippines probably even more as I estimate, there are people living beyond their means (especially politicians and government and public officials). I have a brother in law working as a tricycle driver and they can barely afford putting food on the table. Working for minimum wage is NOT considered employment. Even skilled workers can’t get counted as employed if they are not even making enough for daily expenses. Just because they have a shop for vulcanizing tires or a refrigeration repair shop but hardly getting customers means no income. If you have NO INCOME to draw on because of lack of customers, then how can you even call yourself EMPLOYED? The whole idea of being employed is to get income. Just because you are qualified, have skills does not count you as employed unless you can call him a slave and working for nothing. Working for nothing or barely anything is still called unemployed.

      em·ploy·ment
      [ em plóymənt ]

      1.working for pay: the condition of working for pay
      2.work or job done by somebody: the work, especially paid work, that somebody does
      3.number of paid workers in population: the total number of people who work for pay in a particular population.

      Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Historically, slavery was institutionally recognized by most societies; in more recent times, slavery has been outlawed in all countries, but it continues through the practices of debt bondage, indentured servitude, serfdom, domestic servants kept in captivity, certain adoptions in which children are forced to work as slaves, child soldiers, and forced marriage.

      Most slaves today are debt slaves, largely in South Asia, who are under debt bondage incurred by lenders, sometimes even for generations. Human trafficking is primarily used for forcing women and children into sex industries. Trafficking in human beings (also called human trafficking) is one method of obtaining slaves. While the majority of trafficking victims are women, and sometimes children, who are forced into prostitution (in which case the practice is called sex trafficking), victims also include men, women and children who are forced into manual labour.

      Slaves can be an attractive investment because the slave-owner only needs to pay for sustenance and enforcement (practically a common practice here in the Philippines by criminal opportunists and political oligarchs). The labour market, as institutionalised under today’s market economic systems, has been criticised, especially by both mainstream socialists and anarcho-syndicalists, who utilise the term wage slavery as a pejorative for wage labour. Basically why middle class system is almost non-existent in the Philippines. The growing middle class as they claim that is growing here are simply because of the OFWs or Overseas Filipino Workers abroad sending money back to the Philippines or balikbayans who have earned enough abroad and have returned with enough saved money to start a small business of their own here.

  8. Yes, you are correct. The official rate is reported at (currently) 7.5%, with an additional 19.2% as ‘Under-Employed’ Those who are fully employed are for the most part making meager wages, thus those who are working under 40 hours are barely making enough to justify the job apart from “some money is better than no money”. For this reason there is a huge poverty-level strata in the country, an almost non-existent middle-class base and again a small percentage of ‘rich’ upper-class. If you combine the the ‘working poor’ and the unemployed, it’s safe to say that roughly 50% or more of the people in the Philippines are living in substandard 2nd or even 3rd world conditions combined. That would be a better way of phrasing it. ref; http://business.inquirer.net/126411/philippines-jobless-rate-soars-despite-record-growth

  9. As a side note, in the US the unemployment rate is reported to be at roughly 9%. However we already know that the US government is ‘fixing’ those numbers by not counting those who no longer receive unemployment aid as being unemployed. They literally subtract them from the number of unemployed when making their calculations. They also count ‘under-employed’ as ‘employed’ to even further lower the percentage. A truer number of the unemployment rate in the US is more like 20%, but that is not what’s being reported.

    I would not put it past any government to under-report or ‘massage’ the numbers to save public face. Just something to keep in mind when looking at the daily reality most Filipinos face. A Filipina friend of mine spent 13 months trying to find a job and only 2 weeks ago finally landed one. The woman down the street is now on her 2nd island in search of a job. The fact that even fast-food employers can afford to weed out applicants if they don’t hold a college degree simply for a job frying potatoes tells us there is a HUGE unemployment base.

  10. Henry, you might be correct. However in most cases perception is very different from facts. Also, it is unfair to measure one with one stick ( in this case Philippines using your inflated number) when your reader refers to the official data when thinking of another country.

  11. Continuation…For instance, the Philippines has an official employment rate of 7% and Indonesia 6.4%, a difference of only 0.4%. Without applying your theory for Indonesia your reader might think that the difference between the 2 countries' unemployment rate is a whooping 43.6%. Just saying.

    1. As I mentioned before, the actual poverty rate is astounding in the Philippines. You keep focusing on the employment rate. Well, that would be relevant if being employed meant being able to afford a middle-class lifestyle. But that’s not the case. I’ve seen the girls walking home after their shift at the malls, I’ve been to their homes and with the equivalent of perhaps $300 a month coming in for a family of six you can’t tell me that’s a middle-class lifestyle. There’s more to this than just the employment rate. In fact this whole article was taking a broad look at lifestyle as a whole. The day having a job in the Philippines means a person can pay all their needs, live in a middle-income lifestyle and put some money in savings.. only then do the employment numbers have any relevance.

      1. You are correct Henry, I have been here two years and found out the facts myself. What you see in the media and sometimes so far from the truth. A lot of public officials like to put a cosmetic fix on problems like this and a lot of times it is because of the fact that a lot of public officials do not do their jobs correctly, they are most of the times bribed to look the other way or falsify reports and just report half truths and worst of all, these people themselves (public officials) are in connivance with crooked business people who are also public officials themselves. One example, you will not be surprised to see a Burger place franchise that is losing money to be used as a front to launder money that has been stolen from the government (Burger Machine). They don’t mind the minor lost of capital being it was just being used as a front when they claim the income for the franchise so they could use the stolen money from the government by claiming that they are earning from the Burger Machine. The truth is the very people who do the hiring are themselves the corrupt people who are paid to hire certain people even if these people are not qualified just because they know someone or they hire a person that is over qualified to do work that is under the qualifications of the job candidate so they could pay him or her less (this has happened to me). There are so many scams these corrupt public officials are involved in and you can read some of them now exposed on the news. Ever heard of the PDAF scam? That’s just one scam but there are hundreds and hundreds of them.

        If you ever come to Manila, you will notice so many foreign investment establishments here. I am sure some of them are just places to launder stolen money. Chinese owned businesses, Korean, Japanese, Australian etc etc. I am sure some of them have a high ranking official behind the scene and use these foreign partners to front the stolen money from the government. I will not be surprised. That is a big reason why there is 50% unemployment in the Philippines. The way that other Filipino sounded as if working as a bar girl or working as a prostitute is considered employment. Working for a human trafficker is NOT considered employment. It’s called a Crime and the persons being forced to work under unbearable conditions and for meager pay are called VICTIMS not Employees.

      2. I also wanted to add that working as a nanny, a house gardener, a maid, or house boy is not considered employment. As per BIR regulations, they are not even paying taxes yet because their wages are below the lowest income taxable rate. I hardly doubt if taxi drivers are considered employment as well because a lot of these taxi drivers do not make enough to be considered on the lowest taxable income rate. I know the a tricycle driver is not considered employment neither because they are not making enough to pay income taxes. I consider a person considered employed if you are at least paying some type of income tax. There are millions of Filipinos in this poverty income level that is barely enough to pay for a rent of an apartment, pay for food and other necessities of simple life. Who ever tells me otherwise, I will ask him to work for one year in those professions and ask him or her to see if it is enough to afford a cell phone, food, rent, some presentable clothes, electricity, etc. The income is so small it is not even enough to pay for one person and a lot of these people have a family to support as well. How can you say the unemployment rate is 7.5%??? Someone must be blind or can’t count correctly.

  12. henry,

    Don’t get too worked up over the naysayers. As the Zen amphorism states, “You cannot fill a cup that is already full.”

    In other words they will not change their minds because they fail to see reality.

    You said it so well, and actually passed along some great info for folks that choose to see it. Well played my friend.

    1. Thanks. If not for the intended person, then maybe it’s useful for others. But then there’s that point where it’s a fruitless exercise that disturbs my bliss. That’s when I gotta think, “What Would Buddha Do?”. ha! Thanks, Tito.

      1. haha when I see the “What would Jesus do” bracelet on someone, I tend to think he wouldn’t get his you-know-what in a sling in the first place.

  13. Henry, I admire your sharing the experience and adventure in the Philippines.
    as a Conservative, I share the same view and Opinion." Don't give them fish but teach the how to fish"

    1. The disheartening thing I’ve learned over the last year here is that, a majority of the time, when an expat offers to “teach them how to fish”.. there are those who simply see it as a way to get some short-term money under the guise of starting a business they have no intention of working. Some discretion has to be used here as to “who to assist”. It’s best to assist those who are already making the most of what little they got. They’ve shown the incentive and just need a boost. Some people here just ‘give up’ and resign themselves to becoming dependent on someone else. Those people are not just poor due to lack of funds.. they are beyond that because they’ve lost the incentive to keep trying. To an extent I can understand. It must be daunting and difficult to spend each day in such hard circumstances. No matter how you slice it, life is hard in a 2nd or 3rd world country and there are no easy answers. Money alone can’t fix it. Money alone can’t instill the courage to strive for a better life with effort.

  14. Henry as a man living in Mexico I share your admiration for the good honest hard working people which are the vast majority of people

  15. Even before I ever travelled abroad, I had no time for the people complaining about ‘them taking our jobs.’ Your country doesn’t have a birthright to the best income – these people genuinely can’t conceive of there being a massive positive side to outsourcing that’s benefiting millions.

    It’s so damn refreshing to see an expat writing about the positive aspects of this country (while still advising caution when relevant). Most of the time when I google topics about the Philippines that I want to learn more about – poverty, attitudes, bringing up kids, etc – the results are overwhelmingly from bitter blogs and xenophobic forum posts written by people who screwed up their lives and want to take it out on the country that’s welcomed them.

    Good on you for enjoying life! As long as we all try to help the situation in our modest way too. I’ve never been asked by a Filipino for money either (excluding beggars), but I’ll keep trying to help my girlfriend get the online or foreign jobs she wants so she has the chance to earn a fairer income and I always help out her sister (she always pays me back) when her OFW husband’s pay is delayed by his unscrupulous Saudi employers. That’s a whole story in itself about the Filipino determination to work in circumstances a lesser man like me could never have endured.

  16. Henry, Hats off to you. This true story brought tears to my eyes. Being raised on the lower east side (little Italy) of New York by Mulberry St. (which is now called Chinatown) I remember my father working 3 jobs to provide for his children. It brought back so many memories. Thank you and thank all you hard working people.

  17. “Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” ~ Lao Tzu. I refer to this time-tested wisdom whenever I think about the disparity between the rich and the poor, that the problem does not lie on the financial situation of the person, but on the comparison he or she makes in relation to his or her own surrounding.

    This perception is more apparent in the way I see the Filipino people. I can’t really say that I’ve witnessed extreme condition in the country after living here for many years, where people are literally dying from lack of basic necessities such as food, clothes, or shelter. If anything the Filipino people are very resilient, creative, and ambitious and can devise any means possible to survive. This self-deprecating image of being a poor country and poor people is just an antiquated practice the Filipino people have gotten used in order to win sympathy from others.

  18. Excellent article since I've got to know the Philippines and the people I've so much believe what everybody says about them "they are poor people but happy people" My girlfriend is filipina I've know her a year and a half mostly Skype I've visiter and her family 3 times and plan to retire soon and move to Cebu. i think there is no other place i rather live than the Philippines the people are so friendly everything you said here i find it tue i live in Los Angeles and used to go across the border to Tijuana, Mexico once a month but refused to go cause all the violence and I'm sorry to say a lot of americans are lazy and spoiled and just want free money. God bless the Philippino people. Soon i will say "Ako ay filipino"

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