I was told that in the Philippines, making money depends on how inventive you are, and how entreprenuerial you can be. The average salary in the Philippines doesn’t count for much when converted to almost any other foreign currency, and most salaries in the Philippines don’t count for much there either. This is especially true in the provincial areas, where an average salary might be 7,000 – 12,000 PHP (144 USD – 248 USD) per month.
Even the police and military in the Philippines receive low wages and have to do extra jobs on the side just to get by. To me, this seems detrimental to the overall health of the nation, especially in regards to the military and police. If the people who are meant to protect you can’t concentrate on their jobs because they’re so poor, they’ll either become ineffective or they’ll exploit their position, leading to corruption.
It’s no secret that the Philippines already has problems with corruption. The Philippines should be listed as an example of political corruption in encyclopedias, as it’s almost become a tradition for politicians in power to screw over the citizens. According to agencies like Transparency International, and Filipinos, the current president, Gloria Arroyo, is considered to be the most corrupt president in the history of the country. So, where do you lay the blame? The people who elected her? Well, maybe in a country like the US, where there are actually checks and balances and a somewhat fair election, but Gloria openly admitted to cheating during the 2004 election to win the presidency.
So, was the corruption in the Philippines evident even to me? Sure it was. The poor quality of public works like roads, phone and water services, the low quality of life, the rampant inflation between my first visit a year ago and this visit, and fees, fees, and more fees. Did you know you even have to pay a fee just to leave the country? It applies to tourists and Philippine nationals alike, except it’s higher for foreigners, because like I said before, all foreigners are rich in the eyes of Filipinos. They like to call it a “Terminal Usage Fee” and it comes up to something like 16 USD. What’s this fee going to? It’s certainly not going towards improving the terminals I’ve used there. That’s for damn sure. Again, I’d like to point you back to a prior post I made about NAIA, in Manila, here. For my wife, the fee is only 100 pesos (about 2 USD) but to get the paperwork done she has to travel to an office in Manila and sit around for an hour or more. On top of that they regularly charge Filipinos who work overseas exorbitant fees for something called the Overseas Workers Welfare Administrations, and Filipinos are required to upkeep their domestic Philhealth healthcare, even though they’re abroad and don’t need it. It’s all just ridiculous. When I left the US, I wasn’t required to pay extra fees. I’m not required to join an organization just because I left the country and have plans of working abroad. In fact, my foreign earned revenue won’t even be taxed up to a certain point (which is pretty high).
The Philippines is a country with a lot of potential that will never be realized as long as people like Arroyo sit in office, embezzling money from the people for the purposes of self-enrichment (and not the good kind like learning a second language either) and self-aggrandizement. It’s almost disgusting to look at. In fact, it’s almost like watching a large group of schoolyard bullies fight for authority, not realizing that there’s so much more beyond the schoolyard fence.