Poverty in the Philippines in 2022, currently after the Covid pandemic, rose from 15% to 24%. In the UK and the western world, poverty is judged on how much of your income you have left after essential bills. People who are unemployed in the UK will get benefits, and parents do get child benefit.
To be honest, I know people will tell me “it is all relative!” but, people in the UK are lucky enough not to know what real poverty is.
In the Philippines, with no job, there is no money. So, people in poverty are scrapping around from meal to meal, looking for any money to live. There are some government initiatives for the poor in the Philippines, but it is a complicated system to negotiate and not well advertised.
What is one of the causes of poverty in the Philippines?
You will hear people talking about how Filipinos have children to pay for their retirement. This is an old-fashioned practise and, unfortunately, keeps families in perpetual poverty.
The idea was that once the children started to work, they would send a percentage of their salary back home to help look after their parents in their old age. This would mean there was no spare cash for the children to save or invest for their own retirement. So, when they have a family of their own, the same routine continues.
The Philippines has only one major export, and that is manpower. Thousands of Filipinos leave the Philippines and their families every year to work in the west in the hope they will be able to make enough money to send home.
My partner would work all the hours she could and live on the least amount of money possible so that she could send the rest home to her parents and her children. Even now, she is my partner and has a good job in the UK. She would happily send everything she makes back to her family to make them happy and give them a good life.
What are the effects of poverty in the Philippines?
You will see poverty in the major cities in the Philippines, such as Manila’s largest slum named “Tondo”. Although the Filipinos in Tondo live completely hand to mouth, they stick together and try to keep optimistic.
However, one of the saddest parts of poverty is the rise in suicides, especially amongst children.
In the Philippines, most jobs require you to have a degree. Even the cashier in Jollibee will need a degree. Now we all know degrees require college or university, and they do not come cheap. Yes, there are some free ones, but competition for these places is hard.
If you are a young person looking at your employment prospects requiring a degree and you know there is no way your parents can afford to send you to college or university, what are you to do?
Some of the Filipinas will use their looks to try and scam westerners online, and some will work in the bars in places Angeles City. The boys will also just do what they can to make whatever money they can, generally in farming or construction. Choices for both are massively limited.
Why is it hard to end poverty?
To end poverty, there must be an appetite from the population and the government. Without the will and the required money, poverty will continue unabated.
In the Philippines, you are fighting corruption at all levels. This means money from the government is not getting to the right places.
Traditional and religious practices that are ingrained into the general population stop the ability to move forward because “we have always done it this way’.
New technology and government initiatives to eradicate as much as possible corruption will eventually help, but it will take time.
Businessmen and some Expats do not help the situation as they will happily employ people for the least amount possible. For example, the minimum wage in the Philippines is 570php or £8.87GBP for a full day’s work! UK minimum wage is £9.50GBP per Hour!
I am not saying we should pay our employees rock-star wages but we should do the right thing!
How can we solve poverty in the Philippines?
I don’t think there is a quick answer to the poverty issue in the Philippines, but I feel that the westerners who choose to retire there can undoubtedly make an impact. However, conversations about money are always difficult no matter where you come from.
If we are going to retire to the Philippines and enjoy the incredible culture, weather, and lifestyle that the Philippines can give us at a very low cost. Then I fully believe we should give something back.
If Filipinos do not know there is an alternative to the current financial situation, then they won’t change. Now I am not suggesting you barge into the community shouting, “you are doing it all wrong”, but I am suggesting you talk about alternatives.
We are not all financial gurus, but the knowledge we have from the west can help educate people and show them better.
For me, my partners’ children will currently be looking toward their working life with the understanding that some of their hard-earned money needs to come back to their parents. We are in a nice position not to need their money, so to break the cycle, my plan is to get them to invest the money they would have given to us.
The investment could be in property, land or a business. There is no point in putting the money into a Philippines bank now because it will not grow. I want their money to build into a pension pot. This would mean that when they have their own children, they can get them to invest also without the burden of looking after mum and dad.
When we set up a business we employ people on good wages, not just the minimum wage that the government has now determined. Pay your employees a sensible wage, and ensure they can live ok on what you pay. Make sure they have medical cover, and they will be ok in the event of sickness.
A little perspective!
A typical Filipino will give you their last breadcrumb. Let us give back to the country and the people who have welcomed us. Let us help educate our families about financial matters and how we can break the cycle of poverty.
Be a part of growing the Philippines instead of just sitting on your arse on the beach getting smashed.