The Philippines is an archipelago of an estimated 7,107 islands located in Southeast Asia. You will see here scenic views of white sandy beaches, colourful marine life, beautiful coastlines, hidden falls and plenty of untouched natural beauty. It’s a paradise with cool summer breeze weather all year round. It has three main island divisions: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Throughout parts of the country are cities covered with tall structures of commercial and office buildings, condos and shopping malls, crowded with people and traffic noise.
The Philippines has a land area of 115,831 sq. miles and population of over 100 million. To get a perspective of how big the land area and population of the Philippines is compared to the land area of another country like Canada, have a look at the following figures.
According to Wikipedia, Canada (the second largest country by area) has 3,855,103 sq. miles (33 times larger than the Philippines) but has just more than a third of the population of 35,851,774. One province in Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, has a slightly bigger land area of 156,453 sq. miles (44,000 sq. miles more than the Philippines), and a small population of 527,756. We begin to wonder how tightly Filipinos are squeezed in this small area in addition to all its cars, buses, jeepneys and other manufacturing machineries running every day. How bad can pollution there be? The open spaces, the forests and the water between the islands help reduce some of the pollution and help give them fresher air to breath. Nonetheless, a lot of Filipinos have continuously migrated to other countries even before pollution has gone to the present level.
Changes in immigration policy of some countries have given Filipinos the opportunity to apply either as immigrants, foreign workers or to study. Some were sent as foreign diplomats; some married citizens of countries they travelled. Interestingly, the United States is the number one destiny for most Filipinos who relocate overseas permanently. About 86 per cent of Filipinos are Catholics, the third country in Catholic population behind Brazil and Mexico. Some have become missionaries of faith to countries they settled.
Filipino skills and talent are one of the Philippines’ big exports. Doctors, nurses, medical technologist, teachers and engineers are the biggest class of migrating professions. Those who cannot get positions in their professions settle for low paying jobs as caregivers, nannies, musicians or drivers in other countries just to better their lives. A large number of recruitment and migration agencies scam people who hoped they can assist them. For an official website to migrate to Canada, here’s the link.
Filipinos are caring and grateful people, sending money back home to relatives. This helps the family to have money to spend which in same manner contribute to the country’s economic growth.
Brain, Beauty and Faith
Filipinos are intelligent, hard working, mostly educated. Unlike most developed countries where education is free until high school, the Philippines always need more funding to support free public education. Many parents would send children and pay tuition fees to private schools that take a big chunk of their pay checks. They prefer giving their children private school education with high standard of instructions and teach religion. An average income of Filipinos is about $6,000 US/year. A National Statistics Survey in the ‘90s reported a combined earnings of about 80% of these families make 44% of total income of the country while the top 10% of families own the 39.3%.
After being under the rule by other countries, some Filipinos inter-married. Their children’s features were enhanced with more pointed nose and lighter brown skin color like the movie stars, as they say. While white-skinned coloured women like to get tanned, Filipinos use umbrellas to hide from the sun. People want what others have, not realizing others are jealous of what they have.
Aside from their talents, Filipino’s enhanced beauty may have contributed to more of them becoming beauty contests winners worldwide. Philippines is ranked third in the world (after Brazil and Venezuela ) to win all titles of the Big Four Beauty Pageants as: Miss World (1x), Miss International (5x), Miss Universe (3x) and Miss Earth (3x).
Globally, Filipinos are not only known for their beauty but also for their skills and talent in politics, business, religion, science and journalism. These days we hear the names of Manny Pacquiao, Efren Reyes, Lea Salonga, Enrique Iglesias and Bruno Mars, to name a few in sports and entertainment.
The Spanish rule in the Philippines for over 300 years contributed to Filipinos becoming predominantly Catholics. Their influence is also seen on the dishes they eat, their siesta, Spanish influence on their dialects, their last names and as mentioned, beauty.
Need for Change
The Philippines has made good progress in a lot of areas like infrastructures and housing, better roads for the increased volume of cars. They are good in applying the latest in technology. There are now more travel facilities/agencies for local and foreign travels–more tourists and balikbayans, bigger and more numbers of shopping malls, better exports, some improvements in areas of health care, pension and media. It is now referred to as ‘newly industrialized nation’, no longer an “underdeveloped country”. The country has moved from mainly farming, fishing and small cottage industry to manufacturing and service industries allowing for more employment and a better feeling of security. It is also exporting Filipino goods like sea foods and prepared/frozen foods, industrial and manufacturing-use products, some in small scale and some big. The Philippines ranked third among the largest exporters of bananas.
We should be happy to hear the good news on progress but the shadow of corruption still prevails, dampening some encouraging news. A total elimination of this may be a dream so a slow reduction of its practice can be accepted. We should not stick to our favourite phrase “Bahala na (ang Diyos)”–endure what the current situation brings.
There’s a need for change in this way of thinking to advance. Our “Bahala na” in a more meaningful translation is “Thy will be done”, meaning God will take care of our country means, each and everyone should be an instrument to help bring the change. Aspire for progress today. Filipinos live and work abroad to help alleviate the sufferings and hardships of their countrymen. Poverty, and sometimes greed of those in power, lead to corruption that slows the growth of the country. Poverty also brings crime and similar acts. Our community needs each other; ministries need to think and work together. Compassion, patience, perseverance, petitions and hard work can resolve and bring progress.
We are created for a purpose–let’s work together for a common goal in changing the world. Filipinos living abroad have experienced how it feels to belong to a community of people who labour together under a government that works for the good of the people, not their pockets. The government needs to change the thinking of some officials–from the bottom to the top–to believe that corruption is evil, a sin that will be penalized with shame and fines.
Let’s hope that in our next visit, the Philippines has continued to make big progress and transformed to be a great country, we will not hesitate to come back.