Unlike other young entrepreneurs with a specific brand or product, Tricia Gosingtian does not have a physical product or merchandise to sell. The twenty-four-year-old calls herself a creative entrepreneur. Her success stems from the fact that she simply pursued her passions: freelance photography, modelling, styling, and blogging, alongside a string of other skills. These hobbies helped her develop her skills as an entrepreneur and a fashion trendsetter. She is now one of country’s highest paid bloggers. A successful high-traffic lifestyle blog can generate up to seven figures from an accumulation of advertising, product placements, reviews and other sources of online revenues.
A graduate of Ateneo de Manila with a degree in Fine Arts and a major in Information Design, Gosingtian built her company from her blog, Tricia Will Go Places. The reknowned fashion blogger modestly claims that the blog, and the business that followed, was born accidentally.
At a young age of 18, despite lack of formal training in photography, Tricia started taking photos related to her interest in fashion, beauty and culture. She knew that there are professional photographers who are more experienced in the field, but that did not stop her. Tricia took and posted fashion photos simply because she is passionate about them.
A newspaper hired her to do street fashion photography. In contrast to fashion designed by famous name designers in studios, street fashion is any style of clothing design that emerged from youth culture. A photographer usually goes exploring places in an urban center where young people congregate, such as parks, rock concert stadiums, music festivals, malls, and university campuses. The photographer then proceeds to spot people in the crowd who stand out based on their sense of fashion, and asks them if they do not mind having their pictures taken.
It was during her stint with the newspaper when Tricia decided to upload her photography work to her blog site. She shares, “Eventually, I wasn’t able to sustain it due to my busy schedule back in college, so I decided to just take my own personal style photos. And the rest just followed.” Tricia admits that she has always been a very active internet user ever since she was in high school. She was not expecting that her hobby will turn into a full-time business venture.
Being a fashionista who loves to collect clothes, Tricia thought of putting her clothes into good use. Her idea was to make a photo documentation of herself wearing the clothes that she loves. Essentially, she became her own photographer and model. Until now, she still posts photos of herself on her blog. Her sense of style and individuality has caught the imagination of young Filipinas all over the country, who look up to her for fashion ideas.
“I never really thought it could grow to something much bigger. I’ve always had a penchant for graphic design so I remember enjoying creating layouts for all my friends’ blogs and for my own blog. Photography came into my life some time back then, when I suddenly grew obsessed with deviantART and sharing my work in this wonderful art community, ” she says.
Tricia works with publications and brands who see her as the icon of youth fashion. It isn’t far from the truth, as the blog regularly features photos of Tricia in her latest fashion getups. She believes that she has a lot of creativity to share throughout Asia and the rest of the world. She calls her style as ‘sophisti-cute’, her own mix of her two influences, Japanese fashion and Western high street fashion.
Tricia finds unique sources for inspiration, beyond the realm of traditional fashion design. “In terms of fashion and photography, I was mostly influenced by Japanese magazines. I wanted to recreate that kind of soft lighting they always had in their photos, so I decided to pick up my own camera and try to produce the same results. Fashion-wise, I don’t strictly follow Western trends, but I do follow Japanese fashion religiously. Coincidentally, Japanese fashion also takes its roots from Western trends,” she observes.
Asked what important traits one must have to be successful, she answers, “Positivity breeds positivity. Nothing good can ever come out of surrounding yourself with negative people who say negative things all the time. Focusing on the positive things can help you look at life in a different, more meaningful way.” As to her definition of success, Tricia replies, “Success is relative! My definition of success doesn’t really have much to do with fame or money, but a lot with being able to carry out my dreams with the presence and support of my loved ones.”
ONE more year and the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are gearing towards freer and wider market in its Economic Integration pushing for the realization of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Such countries are Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia; with China, Japan, and South Korea in the ASEAN Plus.
To those who are not so familiar with the ASEAN Economic Integration, let me put it in simple terms – “free-flow”. With it, people would be allowed to purchase, sell products and services, work and invest in any of the member countries of the ASEAN with lesser restrictions unlike what we are used to – strict protectionism. Instead of having to spend so much in terms of tariffs and complying with bloody requirements, strict procedures and other trade burdens, trading would be a lot easier, because the aim of the ASEAN is to have zero or near zero trade barriers. This would be enjoyed by all ASEAN member countries. In addition, Southeast Asians wanting to work overseas (in ASEAN countries) would experience easier processes. Free-flow of work-force would happen. Investors could capitalize their resources freely as they expand from one nation to another nation in the ASEAN.
Entrepreneurs would directly benefit from the ASEAN Economic Integration. There is a lot to be excited about for them.
The Philippines would be able to compete in the global setting through the one market and production base of the ASEAN. In this sense, there would be unity and more productivity among the member countries. Ironically, as member countries compete in terms of the ability to offer lower prices to consumers brought by removing or lessening trade barriers, the whole of ASEAN could benefit as a group – bonded together in creating economic progress. The free-flow would give reason for entrepreneurs to be able to cut costs for their production materials, equipment and manpower, because they would be able to get it at significantly cheaper amounts. They could have the needed edge to compete with the other larger companies in the whole world.
At a regional scale, the lending and borrowing from banks would be easier as it would have to adjust with the changes and accompany the needs for capitalization of entrepreneurs. I believe that bank transactions between and among ASEAN countries would be a lot busier compared before and it would mean significant money coming in and out of the country.
The country’s local government units (LGUs) are being improved to become business-friendly and competitive. LGUs have programs that streamline Business Permits and Licensing System (BPLS) and develop the economy through the Local Economic Development (LED) programs. In this way, the country’s budding entrepreneurs who would like to take the opportunity to do business in the ASEAN would have better access to acquire the necessary documents they need to possess in order to establish legitimate enterprises.
Free-flow could not flourish if not for state-of-the-art infrastructure as well. Entrepreneurs know the hassle of transporting precious goods from one point to another. Even though we already have some notable infrastructure, there is still so much that need to be improved. With the ASEAN Economic Integration, lagging behind would not be an option. The budget and plans in developing infrastructure would have to be applied, so that the country would be able to connect with the member nations internally and externally – roads, bridges and ports would have to be made. Entrepreneurs would be able to transport their products in the country more safely and accessibly, in all of its provinces and cities and of course out of the country to all other ASEAN countries. Consequently, entrepreneurs that focus on the tourism sector would benefit from the ease of travel. Good news for all businesses in our tourist spots.
The ASEAN Economic Integration would also mean more opportunities for the country to develop its communications and information technology facilities. In this age of high technology, entrepreneurs could benefit even more from the World Wide Web when they try to compete with the tigers and reach their customers in the global setting. We know of it as entrepreneurs have established their on-line stores which are gaining more and more attention from customers who would rather remain in the comforts of their homes and order the latest products at best deals! Entrepreneurs who are home-based and who are mostly just starting up do business on-line. Why not? Communications brought by the internet has proven to be very effective and efficient.
With free-flow, the market is even wider and tougher and we could expect even greater – tons of exportation and importation dealings happening from one corner of the world to another with the use of the internet. Imagine how else entrepreneurs could speed up the increase of their sales, but with the use of the continually developing communications and information technology! Almost everything could be just one click away from happening. In order to “go with the flow”, the free-flow would have to be accompanied with improved communications and information technology.
Investors coming in the country for expansion would provide entrepreneurs that sub-contract for more opportunities to do business. Entrepreneurs who would like to invest in another ASEAN country would be encouraged and would enjoy none, if not fewer restrictions.
The Philippines would have to adjust and better its competitiveness as it would need to keep up with the requirements of the AEC and integrate with all member countries. There would be no other sensible way, but to improve. Sink or swim they say, but I am confident, our country’s entrepreneurs would have what it takes to take advantage of the free-flow and run with the tigers.
“Rising as one: The Filipino Nation Towards The ASEAN Economic Integration” by Local Government Academy
Young entrepreneur Richard Sanz started out with nothing but a business concept and his gut feel. Going by personal instinct and intuition has been considered too risky by many business people. In Richard’s case, it has proven him right in the long run, because he now rules one of the most successful food businesses in the country.
He started his venture in 2004. “I was 23 years old when I resigned from my engineering job in a multinational firm. It was a risky decision as I had a family to provide for, but I went ahead because I was young and excited to have my own business.” He remembers his mother making iced tea from tea leaves and water. With that dearly-held childhood memory, Sanz collected Php120,000 worth of capital from personal loans and created Tea Square, the Philippines’ first specialty iced tea brand.The first Tea Square branch was opened at the Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa City.
“We are confident that through focused development and brand-building, we can get a respectable market share in three to five years,” he shares. Despite the fact that most food businesses rely on the tried-and-tested iced tea prepared from powder, Richard Sanz has successfully popularized a line of all-natural tea beverages. Food Asia Corporation, his company, currently has four brands and 80 retail outlets nationwide, and has experienced revenue growth of over 1,000 percent during the past years.
“My target was the upscale, health-conscious AB market. Since I had a low budget, I developed my own products based on what I felt the market would enjoy. I also designed the cart, and learned how to use Adobe Photoshop to create my company’s logo and marketing materials. The entire setup took two weeks,” Richard narrates.
“Since I only had one employee, I did all the marketing, accounting, and other tasks myself. But it made me so proud to see people frequenting the store–between 50 to 100 customers came each day, probably out of curiosity. The good thing, though, is we were able to translate that curiosity into continuous sales.”
One way to ensure business success is to to educate the public about one’s products. Richarddid taste tests and set up in-mall posters informing the consumer of tea’s health benefits, such as boosting one’s immune system, preventing cancer, and reducing high blood pressure. He also had the creative idea to use ‘LoyalTea’ cardsto attract more customers. Richard believes in excellent customer service. To show his dedication in satisfying customer demand, he printed his personal cellular phone number on all packaging materials. If that isn’t engaging with your market on a very personal, down-to-earth manner, we don’t know what is.
Tea Square has grown to twenty branches nationwide. “I was able to recover my initial investment in only six months and repay my loans within a year,”Sanz proudly says.
In 2006, not wanting to rest on his laurels, Sanz sought to venture into the bibingka business. His idea is so simple and yet quite effective. “My family likes eating bibingka, but sometimes, we can’t finish a whole serving. So I thought of making smaller portions.” He called it as Bibingkinitan!, a combination of‘bibingka’ with ‘balingkinitan’, which means small or petite in Filipino.
At Php20 per piece, Bibingkinitan! rice-flour cakes are accessible to the mass-based broad C market. It has classic and flavored variants of the classic bibingka recipe, including chocolate, cream cheese, and macapuno.The mini-bibingkas sold like hotcakes. According to Richard, “Bibingkinitan! is the country’s leading bibingka chain today in terms of revenue and store number. It’s also our bestselling brand. We now have over 60 Bibingkinitan! branches.”
One would think that another business success would leave an entrepreneur to settle down, but not Richard, who seems to be quite a natural in handling a business venture. One year after Bibingkinitan!’s launch, he opened another upscale outlet called Bibingka Cafe at the Alabang Town Center in December 2007. Its menu consists of bibingka ala mode, champorado, salabat, tsokolate,and barako coffee, all classic Filipino comfort food and beverages,offered at very affordable prices. Not to be stopped, he opens three more branchesin 2008 at SM North EDSA, SM Clark, and SM Mall of Asia.
To further grow his flourishing business empire, Richardcreated another business division. Calling it Fresh-Foods, its first product offerings are ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook frozen foods, like Stuffees stuffed bread and tilapia ala pobre, as well as fresh poultry produce, like fresh white eggs, red duck eggs, and fresh chicken.
SM Supermarket was impressed with the company’s products and marketing efforts, and offered the opportunity for Richard to develop a brand of consumer food products for the broad C market. These products are now being distributed in major SM supermarkets and hypermarkets nationwide.
Richard notes that FreshFoods’s competition is much more formidable than those of their retail brands, but he remains confident about it. “We are confident that through focused development and brand-building, we can get a respectable market share in three to five years.”
FoodAsia presently has a workforce of almost 100 employees and occupies a 100square meter office in Muntinlupa City. Both Tea Square and Bibingkinitan! have begun franchising, with its combined 20 franchised outlets comprising roughly 25 percent of the current total stores. “We want to establish a presence in all towns in the Philippines,” Sanz says.
In today’s globally-oriented world, an entrepreneur should be able to think in more global perspective. “Innovation is part of our strategy. The product itself is an innovation because we changed the landscape for bibingka. I want to make Bibingkinitan a global brand. All the other food from other countries like Italy, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand are available locally but we have to establish distribution of Filipino food abroad. My dream is to make this Philippine delicacy known globally through Bibingkinitan. We have inquiries in Jakarta, Singapore and Hong Kong today. Hopefully it’s a first step,” the founder of the country’s first bibingka empire says.
Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. Del Rosario exchanged notes for the “Non-Project Grant Aid (Next-Generation Vehicle Package)” amounting to 500 million yen (approximately 215 million pesos) on March12, 2014.
The “Non-Project Grant Aid (Next-Generation Vehicle Package)” aims to contribute to the reduction of environmental pollution in the Philippines caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The products to be provided under this project will be decided in accordance with the Philippine Government’s requests. Specifically, the project is intended to provide eco-friendly products that will promote the development of the Philippines through making use of Japanese technology such as hybrid vehicle (HV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), electric vehicle (EV) and clean diesel vehicle (CD).
Projects under the Non-Project Grant Aid (NPGA) seek to assist developing countries in responding to different economic and social needs. The NPGA offers foreign currency funding for importation of goods such as industrial materials that will address a specific concern of a developing country. The objectives of these projects are in line with the concept of “Inclusive Growth” stated in the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016, as well as the concept of “Human Security” being advocated by the Japanese Government. Projects such as this serve as a continuing testimony of strategic partnership between Japan and the Philippines.
The relentless efforts of the Bureau of Immigration to pursue its general functions have come to fruition.As the primary enforcement arm of the Department of Justice and the President of the Philippines in ensuring that all foreigners within its territorial jurisdiction comply with existing laws, and assisting local and international law enforcement agencies to secure the tranquility of the state against foreigners whose presence or stay may be deemed threats to national security, public safety, public morals and public health, it showed its fervent determination to fulfill its mandate for the administration and enforcement of immigration, citizenship laws and the admission of foreigners in the Philippines through its “Bad Guys Out, Good Guys In (BGOGGI)” Campaign.
Through this campaign, undesirable aliens, especially fugitives, terrorists, sex offenders and the like are inevitably excluded/denied entry in the country, while foreigners who have violated Philippine immigration laws or any other statutes face deportation proceedings. Commissioner Siegfred Mison said there will be no let-up in the BI’s campaign against human trafficking because the syndicates involved do not stop in “exploiting the vulnerabilities of our poor countrymen.”
Mison said they will continue to offload suspected victims of human trafficking so long as there are Filipinos who are subjected to involuntary servitude and abusive working conditions abroad.
Ten Russian nationals who were invited by Bureau of Immigration (BI) operatives last year in Cebu on suspicion of being undocumented aliens have voluntarily left the country recently.
“We have given them due process by deleting their names in the hold departure list after the resolution of the deportation case,” Bureau Commissioner Siegfred Mison explained. Mison added that “there is no evidence of fraud or being misled to sign their request for voluntary deportation so that the Bureau also refunded the cash bonds.”
In the spirit of diplomatic and friendly relations between the Philippines and Russia, the BI also granted the appeal of the Embassy of the Russian Federation who assured that the arrested Russians are “good citizens that will always carefully observe the Philippine laws and traditions.”
It can be recalled that the BI launched the alien mapping program early last year to keep track of the influx of foreigners in the country and check the status of their stay. The foreigners were apprehended by a BI task force while allegedly working at a travel agency in Lapu-Lapu City without the required visa on November 5 last year.
However, only six were seen working inside the travel company while the other four were reportedly guests of the latter. They reportedly violated the limitation and conditions of their stay as a temporary visitor.
Also, in line with Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison’s “Good Guys In, Bad Guys Out” policy in weeding out undesirable aliens, the Bureau has deported 44 unwanted aliens from the country.
Immigration violations committed by these deported aliens range from overstaying, undocumented, conviction of crimes, working without visa/permits, and fugitives from justice, etc. Out of these 44 deportees, 4 were fugitives from justice from their respective countries who were arrested by the Bureau by virtue of mission orders pursuant to Executive Order No. 287 (s-2000).
With the Bureau’s relentless campaign against undesirable aliens hiding in the country, Commissioner Mison gave a stern warning to these fugitives that they cannot forever hide from the long arm of the law of this country and soonest they will be deported.
Meanwhile, Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison issued again yesterday a stern warning against foreigners caught trying to enter the country with spurious immigration stamps following the confinement of two foreign nationals at the airport recently. Mison said Ghana and Ethiopia nationals were denied entry to the country after immigration personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport discovered that their visas and travelling documents are spurious and fake.
Dana Krizia Mengote, a member of the travel control and enforcement unit, denied admission to Sofia Zeinu Ali at the NAIA Terminal 2, who arrived via Philippine Airlines from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, claiming for a holiday in the Philippines. When asked of her purpose, she merely shook her head and she claimed she doesn’t understand English. Upon inspection of her travel documents, the immigration officers found it has numerous cuts, blurry and detected counterfeit “Schengen” visa.
“The Philippine border security should not be taken lightly”, said Mison adding that the Philippines will not serve as a transit hub for foreigners with counterfeit visa stamps.
Also, a Ghanaian national named Anderson Adua Abalem was intercepted at the airport’s arrival area upon disembarking from Philippine Airlines originating from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Abalem is on transit to Vancouver, Canada. Upon inspection, the passenger presented a Republic of Ghana passport with a V-1 multiple Canada sticker visa. However, Ma. Ruby Fontejon, supervisor of the travel control and enforcement unit, found out that the V-1 sticker was fake.
A representative at the Canada Border Services Agency and first secretary of the Canadian Embassy inspected Abalem’s travel documents and confirmed they were really counterfeit.
Both foreign nationals are recommended to be included in the bureau’s blacklist.
Armed with the fresher P601 million 2014 budget, the public can expect more reforms and new programs at the Bureau of Immigration (BI). Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison said this additional budget will allow them to vastly improve its services to foreign nationals and tourists particularly their priority measures and programs that will “change the bureau’s image.” He revealed that half of this year’s budget will be spent in reform measures among immigration personnel to prevent them from conspiring to commit corruption. It will also be spent in upgrading the agency’s services and continuous training for its personnel.
Mison said they will complete the automation of the bureau’s services to eliminate human intervention and the modernization of their information technology systems as well as their surveillance systems in all airports and seaports throughout the country.
Mison intimated that the bureau’s revenue for 2013 reached P2, 985,641,950, BI’s highest since its creation in 1940. He credited the record collection of immigration tax and non-tax fees to improved and expedited services to foreigners at its main and satellite offices.
Tax collection totaled P72, 869,666; non-tax charges including services, fines and penalties amounted to P2, 853,188,665 and ACR I-Card fees reached P130, 107,777.
Mison, at the same time, noted that the bureau has received the highest percentage increase in appropriated funds for fiscal year 2014.
The BI, which is among ten Department of Justice (DOJ) attached agencies, has an approved budget of P650,677 million under the 2014 General Appropriations Act (Republic Act 10633).
Mison said the BI 2014 budget, which reflects a 14.48 percent or P356 million increase, from last year’s P568 billion, will be devoted to the upgrading BI’s border control system. The bureau is set to purchase P70 million worth of computer and equipment, including biometric machines, under its modernization and automation program.
Before a “hot war” is not a “cold war”, it’s the “information war” or “media war” waged between MSM (Mainstream Media) and Alternative Media. For example, media becomes a key factor in the success or failure of “regime change” efforts of the incorrigible subversive foreign powers pushing their hegemonic drive, using “Orange Revolution”, “People Power”, “right to Protect” media campaigns for “regime change” inflicted on Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Georgia, and many others. In the Philippines, the information war and its consequences shape the direction of the lives of one hundred million Filipinos – for better or (and usually) for worst. At least once a month this column will try to sum up the key information battles transpiring or shaping up. Let’s start with the local media war.
Sergio Osmena and his Poe-ppet
At the end of last week Sen. Sergio Osmeña III surprised the public by publicly describing BS Aquino, his ward in the 2010 presidential elections, as “Noynoying”, a “poor manager” and “matigas ang ulo”. It is well known that he is today carving out another protégé in the form of the “Poe-ppet”. This comes after the “Brenda” of the Senate declares from-out-of the blue that 2016 needs another woman president, a position which she thinks she is too old to hold (how humble, suddenly). There are a dozen reasons why it should be known by all now that a “poe-ppet” is being groomed to take over the current one tattered by the Meralco price hike, MRT Balsy-Eldon scam, etc. Just like how BS Aquino was groomed to replace the wayward doll Gloria Arroyo earlier.
The pathologically exploitative Filipino Ruling Class and its foreign partners desperately need a new Muppet Show star to delay the revolt of the restive audience going hungrier by the year. The Poe-ppet is perfect and its handlers are trying to imbue it with the attributes of having FPJ’s name but without FPJ’s real heart for the anti-globalization, traditional values such as loyalty and gratitude, genuine humility and compassion for people. The Poe-ppet is a cold, wooden figure; warmth it cannot exude. It must be remembered, the Poe-ppet was proclaimed by PCOS-melec on the basis of 20-million votes in a “final tally” of June 6, 2013 but in the PCOS-melec “final final” posting on July 11 this became 16-million votes for the “Ta-lo Poe” candidate.
Delfin Lee’s captor sacked!
Nothing captures that picture of pervasive and unchecked corruption the Yellows have set up in the country than the case of Delfin Lee and his P 7-Billion swindle of the People’s housing funds. This involves BS Aquino’s, and Gloria Arroyo of course because this also involved former Cong. Romero Quimbo and former VP and HUDCC chair Noli de Castro, administrations. Delfin Lee, the housing development scammer who eluded authorities for years was arrested last week by Senior Supt. Conrad Capa, but less than a week later Capa was relieved by way of a “promotion” he himself argues to be a demotion; before this BS Aquino sidekick Mar Roxas tried to turn the tables on VP Binay, who is also housing Czar, for reporting that “influential people” tried to have Lee released.
It turned out that Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali, treasurer of the ruling Liberal Party, called up BS Aquino’s police chief Purisima to “inquire” about Lee’s arrest. A controversy also erupted over an earlier erasure of Lee’s name from the PNP list of wanted criminals. There is no reason for a governor of a province far from the housing project of Lee, many of which are in Central Luzon, to be interested in billionaire Lee except for political funding. Clearly, Lee enjoys enormous power and protection from the Liberal Party of BS Aquino and Mar Roxas and their ilk. The media twist in all these is that attempt to turn the issue against Binay, and now expect a massive shift of MSM (Mainstream Media) to another issue to be created.
Cha-cha dancing Zombies
Who’s playing the Cha-cha tunes to which many are dancing to like Zombies? One of those playing the tune is the CorrectPhilippines which is one of the major groups leading from the hidden-behind of the March 15 rally at the Quirino Grandstand, along with groups like PSST (Patalsikin, Sipain, Salot sa Taumbayan), Fix the System Movement, et al whose human faces are not yet seen. But CorrectPhilippines is clear in its advocacy – Opening of the Economy for rape; it highlights Inquirer columns of Peter Wallace, the chief enforcer of the AmCham, ECCP (European) and others for further liberalization and privatization – and chief defender of Meralco’s December-January rate hike! These groups, like the Million Man March PR stunt, are really pervasive in the social media.
Cha-cha is a U.S. sponsored economic-geopolitical project which BS Aquino is obliged to obey. Aquino is playing coy against the bad cap Speaker Belmonte imposing the Cha-cha on Congress. When the right psychological moment comes the good cop will tilt in favor of the Cha-cha. To achieve this the MSM is burying the economic facts that nail the coffin on economic liberalization: the trillions of pesos of domestic capital available in BSP’s Special Deposit Account, the surplus in Foreign Exchange Reserves, the overflowing capital of banks just allowed to pump it into the real estate bubble. The answer to the economic crises, including unemployment, is restoring the cash flow to the people through nationalization of privatized giant public utilities like Meralco.
GDP: The hypnotic mantra
“PH to top SEAsia GDP 2014 growth at 7.5%” the February MSM headlines but in the same month the next headline followed, “Jobless rate climbs to 27.5 pct in Q4” or almost 13-million Filipinos jobless based on the employment survey of the SWS and in May this year the conservative BS Aquino government statistics admitted that “Philippine unemployment rate rises to 7.5 pct in Jan.”, based on the estimates by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The PSA figures also showed that underemployment remained high at 19.5 percent, working less than 40 hours a week, and higher than the 36.13 million recorded a year ago. The underemployment rate is double that of the unemployment rate.
Despite the unemployment figures and rising poverty the MSM continues brandishing the GDP growth figures as the magic words to mesmerize and entrance with the message that “everything is going fine”, and then push the Cha-cha for more of the same finance-capital monopolist “foreign investment” control of the economy that will primarily consists of real estate capture of Philippines land assets using U.S. dollars that will soon be worthless given its crashing status in the global financial system. The same worthless U.S. Dollars will take over Filipino companies making Filipino entrepreneurs mere peons in their own companies. The only measure of real economic growth is the HDI, Human Development Index, and that must be the standard.
More information war summaries next week, on Ukraine, Venezuela, and Philippines burning issues. (Tune to 1098AM, DWAD, Tues. To Fri. “Sulo ng Pilipino” program; watch GNN Sat. 8pm and Sun. 8am “Manila: Sunrise in the City”, Destiny Cable ch. 8 or SkyCable ch. 213, or www.gnntv-asia.com; log on to www.newkatipunero.blogspot.com)
By Al Labita
NOTHING to crow about the Aquino government’s self-serving claim that under its watch, the economy has expanded at a rate faster than what its officials could imagine.
Reckoned with realities, however, the growth only perpetuated the perennial rich-poor gap, one of the world’s worst, despite Aquino’s much-ballyhooed reform agenda.
While statistics only tell half a story, they nonetheless betray the painful truths lurking behind a façade of lies and deceit.
The inclusive growth Aquino has been harping on has been largely inclusive only among the few moneyed elite to the exclusion of the vast majority – the poor.
As the economy grows, it also exponentially drives up the wealth of those in command and control of the lives of Filipinos.
The figures are grim — only 40 families such as the Ayalas, Sys and Tans account for nearly 80 percent of the economy as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), an OpinYon’s research shows.
In stark contrast, some Asian neighbors had managed to whittle down the rich-poor ratio as they gained headway in democratizing their economy over the past decades.
In Thailand, the same number of families account for only 33.7 per cent of the economy and in Malaysia, 5.6 per cent, indicating how the Philippines has lagged behind in addressing the urgency to spread out the nation’s wealth.
Ironically, the glaring disparity vis-à-vis sharing a nation’s wealth explains why the Philippines has more billionaires (in US dollar) than in more prosperous Thailand and Malaysia.
GDP and PPP
They are the same people who take advantage of lucrative contracts, including profit guarantees and tariff increases, under the government’s Public-Private Partnership program (PPP), Aquino’s centerpiece in pushing infrastructure projects.
“The regime has consistently favored the few billionaires while further marginalizing the poor. Aquino now wants to enrich them even more by giving them various perks for the PPP projects,” says the militant Bayan Muna in a statement.
Based on the account of US-based magazine Forbes, the combined net worth of the Philippines’ 50 richest totaled US$65.8 billion in 2012, more than a quarter of the nation’s GDP.
Mostly of Chinese origin, these families own companies which have grown—aided largely by generous government incentives—to become conglomerates with shares traded on the Philippine Stock Exchange and in some cases offshore, notably in cash-rich Hong Kong and Singapore.
Millionaires to Billionaires
Their vast and diverse corporate tentacles extend far and wide, catering to the lives of Filipinos, literally from womb to tomb, leaving them with no choice but to enslave themselves under the weight of an oppressive western-style economic system.
As shown in the list of Singapore-based UBS Billionaires Census 2013, the Philippines ranked 9th in Asia, with 13 billionaires with a combined net worth of US$35 billion.
In 10th place was Malaysia with 10 billionaires worth a combined US$37 billion, while Thailand ranked 11th with 10 billionaires worth US$25 billion.
As usual, ethnic Chinese taipans Henry Sy and Lucio Tan topped the list of the Philippines’ mega rich whose ranks had swelled as more of their kind continued to amass wealth at the expense of those marginalized by the government’s pro-rich, anti-poor economic policies.
Sy, who operates shopping malls, saw his assets surge 44 percent to US$7.2 billion in 2012 alone and remains the Philippines’ richest man.
According to the Forbes 2012 annual rich list, Sy and Tan whose businesses range from retail to property and other related ventures were worth a combined US$13.6 billion, equivalent to six per cent of the Philippine economy.
While GDP has undoubtedly risen over the past years, every Filipino’s share of it is unfortunately the lowest among Asean countries.
Based on the latest data of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), the Philippines’ per capita GDP) stood at only US$4,339 in 2012 compared with Singapore, $61,461; – Malaysia, $16,976; Thailand, $9,609; and – Indonesia. $4,971.
GDP is the amount of goods and services produced, while per capita is derived from dividing the population in relation to GDP.
While seemingly doubtful, the NSCB data hardly reconcile with Aquino government’s oft-repeated claims that GDP last year expanded by 6.8 percent and even bragged that it outpaced Singapore’s 1.3 percent, Malaysia’s 5.6 percent, Thailand’s 6.5 percent and Indonesia’s 6.2 percent.
Yet, the Philippines’ per capital GDP has been the lowest–and slowest—among its peer group since 2005 despite official claims that it is Asia’s fastest-growing economy.
In what could be an indicator of the country’s ever-widening rich-poor gap, NSCB data also showed that high-income households accounted for more than half, or 60 percent, of the GDP.
The balance of 40 percent of the economy’s income was shared by the bulk, or about 84 percent, of the country’s population.
To be poor meant earning less than 16,800 pesos a year or P1, 400 a month or P47 pesos a day which covers 26.5 per cent of the nearly 100 million Filipinos.
As gleaned from the official poverty data of NSCB, the proportion of poor Filipinos to the total population has been surging from 24.9 per cent in 2003 to 26.4 per cent in 2006, and 26.5 per cent in 2009, an issue Aquino promised to address under his “Daang Matuwid” program of government.
The Philippines has one of the highest poverty rates among emerging Asian economies. The poverty incidence stood at 27.9 percent as of the first semester of 2012, almost unchanged from the 28.6 percent in 2009.
Aware of the magnitude of the problem, the government wants to bring down poverty incidence to 16.6 percent by 2015, an ambitious target difficult to achieve as the rich get richer and the poor poorer, given the economy’s bias for the affluent and the powerful.
In more ways than one, the economy is basically lopsided in structure allowing the oligarchs to gain too much control of the country’s resources and creating one of the worst income inequalities in Asia.
One wonders whatever happened to Aquino’s oft-repeated term “inclusive growth” which seeks to create jobs and reduce poverty by spreading the economy’s gains to trickle down to lower-income segments of society.
More importantly, the rich-poor disparity also draws attention to Aquino’s anti-poverty conditional cash transfer program which has a budget of more than P40 billion this year.
Capitalist vs. Socialist System
The program seeks to see 15 million of the nation’s poorest people receive money directly in exchange for their kids going to school and mothers and children getting proper healthcare.
In releasing its data, NSCB risked incurring anew the ire of Aquino who once bawled out the agency’s officials for portraying the economy in bad light contrary to his government’s rosy picture.
Sign of compassion for the disadvantaged sector of society may be gleaned from how the tycoons responded to the clamor for aid of the hapless typhoon victims in the Eastern Visayas region.
While some, particularly Sy and Tan, handed out P100 million each, others were hardly in the news, apparently opting to work behind the scene with less fanfare.
Billionaire port king Enrique Razon deployed heavy equipment to repair the damaged piers in Tacloban city and Leyte, while the Ayalas and banker George Ty chipped in P10 million and P50 million, respectively, worth of relief supplies.
The cost of putting the typhoon-ravaged Eastern Visayas region back on its feet amounts to a whopping P250 billion, a window of opportunity for the tycoons to share their wealth with those they derived their profits from.
Overall, while there is evidence of progress in addressing the yawning rich-poor gap, it is too slow. One study says it would take dozens of decade for the bottom millions of the nation’s population to achieve 10 per cent of the national income under the current rate of change.
Similarly, it raises questions about the Philippines’ pro-capitalist economic model vis-à-vis the egalitarian-oriented socialist type.
- Philippines’ Aquino Races the World’s Fastest Economies – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- PH poverty almost unchanged since 2006 (rappler.com)
- After Typhoon Recovery, Philippines Needs Jobs – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- The Grim Reality Behind the Philippines’ Economic Growth – Jillian Keenan – The Atlantic (theatlantic.com)
- Country slow to reduce poverty despite dramatic growth (hispanicbusiness.com)
- Divided Filipinos (ireport.cnn.com)
- The Philippine Economy in the Aftermath of Haiyan (live.wsj.com)
- GILLES GARACHON : Promoting French Tourism in the PH (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Philippines Has More to Fix Than Typhoon Damage – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Government: Poverty reduction slow, threatens MDGs (businessmirror.com.ph)