OFW – Ang Bagong Bayani O Bagong Biktima

November 21, 2008

here is my essay/treatise on migration.

Filipinos are moving out of their homeland at an alarming average daily rate of two thousand four hundred (2,400) according to government statistics (Department of Labor and Employment., 2004) This figure does not include undocumented or illegal migration. The migration phenomenon has been the subject of researchers from different entities such as the government, non government organizations (NGOs), academe, media and business institutions.

The Philippine Government, through its agencies such as the DOLE, Overseas Workers Welfare Agency (OWWA) and Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), with its branding and labeling battle cry depicting the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as the “bagong bayani”, looks into the angle of how much will it get out of OFW remittances to increase the paper tiger figures of the GNP and GDP. According to a research conducted by at the University of South Florida,

The state mobilization of OFWs rests on the careful deployment of the nationalist discourse that underlies the export of contract workers. Media campaigns, government policy pronouncements, and a steady repetition within government offices encourage all Filipinos to take pride in these “heroes.” The economic and the national are intimately intertwined, for example, in the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration website announcement of the annual “Our New Heroes”( Labors of Globalization: Emergent State Responses, Jonathan Bach and M. Scott Solomon, Occasional Papers on Globalization Volume 3 No.3 2007 , University of Florida)

OFWs are probably called heroes because they have been executed (Flor Contemplacion), kidnapped (Angelo de la Cruz), raped (Sarah Balabagan) and extorted from (all OFWs sending remittances to families and immediate relatives). In the recent global controversial news that has featured the Pinay housemaids1, the Philippine government has negotiated the salary ceiling with Malaysian government. On the other hand it has been viewed as a form of a demand on the side of the Malaysian employers. Whether the salary has been bargained or demanded the government negotiator should have only concentrated on other OFW issues such labor welfare security. The salary rate in the labor market is dictated and will always be (dictated) by the hosting country’s employers and in this case Malaysians dictate the price. After the “negotiation” employers have started firing some of the Filipina maids for fear imprisonment if they will not meet the salary standard set by the brilliant negotiating panel of the Philippine government. The President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on the other hand has been roaming around the Filipino global communities with her entourage giving motivational speeches reiterating “inspiring” words and phrases: “bagong bayani”, “kayo ang mga bagong bayani”, “your remittances have helped your country”, and all the other blah blahs. What is surprising is that according to POEAs 2004 statistics seventy three percent (73%) who has gotten legal and documented contracts to work abroad and become new heroes.. are women!

NGOs that specialize on this phenomenon are being funded by international and local benefactors such as Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and other foundations. Highly paid consultants do their research on the social and moral issues of its effects on families from fathers and mothers to the children. Consultants travel to and fro, in and out of the country giving lectures everywhere about the real situation of migrant workers. To their benefactors, they provide a picture of how migrants are maltreated, discriminated and exploited to the hilt of destroying the persons’ human dignity. They give their altruistic recommendations. They get funds, they do research, and talk about what they’ve discovered on empirical, quantitative, phenomenological, qualitative types of researches , they get funds, they travel, they talk, they get funds again, talk to politicians, priests, the masa. They get funds to talk. Any NGO who is into migrant studies is into a recurring process of continuous funding and talking about the migration phenomenon. This has been going on for the last x number of years. The phenomenon is still there, the situation is getting worse and the statistics of migrants keep on rising.

Filipino doctors are going through a process of professional transformation by making an awkward career move to become their perception of a lowly nurse in the United States. Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in top corporations and SMEs have enrolled in caregiving courses hoping that one day their application for migration in Canada will be approved. Bank managers have used their credit cards to apply for permanent migration in either New Zealand or Australia. This author has gotten an Australian immigrant application waiting to be filled up. Being a future number of the brain drain statistic this author doesn’t even know what are the by products of the research work made by these well funded NGOs. These hard facts leads to a very simplistic conclusion that the author feels the urge to migrate because of the perception and outlook of what’s happening in his country is moving from worse to worst. Nothing positive in political and economic events that is changing the outlook. Nothing is being done to change the perception in government, in the church, in the media and in the military. In other words, the effects of the research and recommendations of these NGOs can’t be felt.

If there’s money in research on migrants another best option for the author would be to get into this bandwagon and get rich because no one can deny that the donors or funding agencies of migration related researched based NGOs are adequately financed by big corporations. PBSP for example is funded by the top xxx corporations in the Philippines. What do they get out of funding altruistic projects… tax incentives and tax exemptions from money doled out as “donations.”

The academe community’s students of masteral and doctorate in compliance with the requirements of submitting theses and dissertations leech libraries and the internet to search for a theoretical framework to be able to come up with questions of why and how. Though theses and dissertations have been done in a “very scholarly manner”, they remain in the shelves of the libraries to be eaten by cockroaches and rats as well as being lost in the oblivion of dust and cobwebs.

While the government is coming from an angle to pad up the economic outlook with the remittances the private media conglomerates on the other hand regard this phenomenon as an opportunity to profit. ABS-CBN for example has been able to acquire an enormous sponsorship by broadcasting via cable network channel which can be seen by OFWs worldwide. The Wowowee noontime game show has showcased two sets of audiences the balikbayan mostly women with their foreign husbands –the HAVES. The other side would be of course the HAVE NOTS that comprises the marginalized whose professions ranges from balut vendors, takatak cigarette boys, the dyaryo boteros and the palenkeras. The HAVES showing their philanthropic spirit of generosity by doling out their dollars as prize money for the HAVE NOTS. Subliminally, this noontime show scenario only says one thing:: there is more money and opportunity abroad. Generally, the atmosphere imbibes their audience to have a mindset that joining the game, coming to the studio as contestant or just merely watching it would improve one’s life.

Business opportunists ride on the migration band wagon to sell products from real estate, insurances to cremation plans. Banks have looked into the money transfers and remittances and have secured their business process by pushing the anti money laundering bills that have prevented small time remittance entrepreneurs from expanding. In the advent of the internet technology, e-business or online trading of various products have created marketing strategies to tap into the largest labor commodity of Asia. The Ayala conglomerate has established an on online mall to provide an online ordering and delivery system for OFWs who would want to send gifts like flowers, lechon and pansit to their relatives in the Pinas. One can notice from the advertisements in the local free channels that significant number of commercials the scenarios depicts the labor export based economy such as :

  • Advil commercial – a scene where the woman said to her friend she’s using that in the “Steyts”
  • Duty Free Philippines – Gary Valenciano singing a song on the context of “bagong bayani:”
  • Rexona Deodorant – a girl waiting for her brother at the international airport.
  • Western Union, Express Padala, LBC – remittance companies that have made their presence felt in the boobtube trough commercials

The list could go on and to sum it all up, this labor export culture is either being exploited or supported depending on where one is coming from.

The Migrants… Where are they coming from.

The migrants are not the bagong bayani. We can call them the bagong biktima or the “new victims”. They are the victims of economic exploitation. Economic exploitation comes in forms that are not easily perceived or comprehensible to ordinary mind where the following indicators are evident in a locality:

  1. When there is no more market activity… there is no more economic activity.
  2. When there is no more opportunity to have a decent job.
  3. When wage earned does not meet the day to day physiological needs (food, clothing and shelter) and perceived lifestyles.
  4. When jobs does not offer security of tenure
  5. When there is conflict and life is threatened by physical violence
  6. When government fails to facilitate the delivery of basic goods and services
  7. When the marginal perceived indicators are observable in the day to day events… the widening gap between the rich and the poor that breeds
    1. Feeling of Discrimination
    2. Indifference in lifestyle that leads to
    3. False pretense of jealousy among societal classes (Upper, Middle and Lower Classes)

No economic activity means no opportunity, no jobs, no money, no honey. Trade will always be related to migration. One does not need to be an economist to be able to conclude that where there is no production there is no product to sell. One moves out of the locality to look for a job because there are no jobs anymore. There are no jobs because no one is producing, no one is selling. This is so because in a labor export economy like the Philippines, the youth has been molded by the government, businesses and media to take courses such as nursing, education and computer science because they are highly paid jobs abroad. The motivation is to move out and take courses that are in no way related to the production of real and tangible products such as food, clothes and construction materials. It’s a sad story of where we the Filipinos have failed, second and third generation migrant Chinese and Indians have picked up and have profited from this national cultural error. The migrant Chinese are now the biggest business owners in the Pinas and have begun building their empires while the Filipinos are moving out with their diplomas and certificates to work in lands where they are exploited by employers and forsaken by their own government. In other words, to simply define the grey area… the current culture does not encourage Filipinos to look into the endogenous resources and build business opportunities out of it.

Low wages – the usual overworked-underpaid complain. Work is a contract between the employer and the employee. One performs a business function to get paid while the other looks for opportunities to expand and manage the business. There should have been a mutual understanding of the values both performs for a business enterprise. Nonetheless, the employer-employee relationship is tarnished by several motivating mindset that capitalists are oppressors and they are just there to profit. Some capitalists on one hand does not have the virtue of empathy to understand the dilemma of being a worker… the worker as a human person with human dignity just like them (capitalists).

Solid Mills and Litton Mills, two of the biggest apparel manufacturing companies have closed 2004 and 2006 respectively. The closure has displaced thousands of its employees which also led to the shutting down of or near closure of their sub-contractors. The author being a supplier of packed-lunch few years ago to one of their sub-contracting agents of these apparel companies has heard several job working condition and job salary complaints of sewers and other staff almost every time he delivers their food. The owner on the other hand fears that she might not get any contract anymore because at that time sub-contract job orders to sew clothes are dwindling. She fears for her employees’ tenure and well-being, considering that she’s got nothing to loose once she’s closed shop. Then the inevitable happened.

Public school teachers are no different from apparel industry employees. They have complained about the salaries that cannot meet their basic necessities from the water and electric bills to food expenses to feed their children. Several times in the last decades, they have gone to the streets to cry and rally for a raise of income. The author’s sister in law, having kids studying in public elementary school has orally accounted that they get high-end cellular phones, twenty nine inch televisions and handbags through loans where principal and it’s high monthly interest of five percent (5%) are to be paid either weekly or daily. You oftentimes see them in noontime game shows as a group of excursionists with students as their entourage. Now the question lies on are they complaining about their salary not making the both ends meet? Would that be meeting then basic needs or their want for a particular lifestyle?

When companies close. The overall picture of trade and employment in the Philippine Economic Zones is a picture of unsecured job tenures. Companies located in the economic zones or locators are multinational companies who have been given by the Philippine government the following incentives :

  1. Tax incentives and subsidized importations. It ranges from a low tariff or customs rates on raw materials or no customs tax at all. A whole year round tax holidays.
  2. Political and Economic cover through investment incentives such as low rental and leasing fees on government owned lands; diminishing the initial capital investment writing off start-up taxes like permits and licenses; less application of intervention policies or regulations on sanitation and quarantine.; discouragement of local governments to create labor unions.

Ironic it is that local startup Filipino owned corporations, partnerships and sole-proprietorships do not enjoy what these multinationals investors have benefited from. What is worse is that when they have discovered a new labor market that offers a cheaper wage rate than the Philippines they just pack and leave at a snap of a finger.

Life is threatened due to economic and political beliefs. The recent news events concerning killings of media practitioners and political activists that has pointed a finger on the military institution has logically made the national development outlook glimmer. What do you expect from a population where everyone is looking outward to More Developed Countries (MDCs) to permanently migrate with their families? How can you consolidate two conflicting notions in the government where there is an agency called the Office of the Peace Process whose advocacy is to negotiate peace and justice with the lefts, the rights and the separatists while in the news there are killings of people persons who stand on the opposite side of the current government actions an inactions on certain policies?

WYSIWYG – What you see is What You Get. Has anyone living in the posh villages ridden the jeepney? Does Kris Aquino or Boy Abunda take a bus from their castle abode to ABS-CBN? This is a question of a day to day experience. If one is taking a jeepney from his home to his place of work, it is one hell of a ride. Regular commuters taking the jeepney helluva ride don’t want to ride the jeepney anymore. They want to ride in air-conditioned cars, SUVs and AUVs. The road is smogged. The jeepney drivers have no road manners, no ethics. You see takatak boys selling cigarettes in the middle of the street rain or shine. Traffic policemen with their big fat bellies are waiting in a corner with a set of licenses and a booklet of traffic tickets. Politicians with their SUVs and AUVs accompanied by motorized policemen makes the traffic stop just to make them pass. Beggars and street children are in their usual poses of extending their palm upward to ask for alms. Motorcycle riders swerving anytime they like riding like a freespirit helmet-less. Just looking on the urban road where everyone experiences the same scenario, would this make one thing to still stay? “If I can’t get rich here, I’ll get rich somewhere else”, an individualistic perspective. This is innate in every human being. The only difference lies on the value formation where a few of still-noble people view the urban road scenario as a challenge.

What is appalling is that based ones perception on these barefaced facts people move out of the country. It’s the current scenario of political and economic hopelessness that makes people migrate. The decision making process of migrant workers where it involves information gathering and evaluation. Perceived information comes from the following four estate of powers:

  1. Government. Perception on what it is doing to implement the basic deliveries of goods and services. Perception about government leaders, officials and employees through news in the tri-media. Experience on how government personnel from officials have dealt with the public on its day to day operations.
  2. The Church. Perception on effectiveness of the preaching the virtues of Christianity through pulpits where corrupt government officials are part of the parish communities.
  3. Media. Perception on what is the right needs to patronize. Perception on current events that influence the economic and political outlook.
  4. The Military. Perception of human security. Perception of their role in bringing peace and order or bringing chaos and disarray in all levels: individual, families and communities.

Decision Based on Perception

Scholastic Theoretical Hooplas.

Adam Smith the eclectic economist during the enlightenment age who has started the hobbles of classical economics illustrated that labor is caused by the differences of supply and demand of the different locations. In layman’s lingo, it simply means that perception and awareness should be present on the side of the person deciding to migrate. The neoclassical theorists have spun off from Adam’s suppositions. Harris and Todaro justified their theory by graphs and formulas comparing the origin and destination of migrants. The model has shown the destination having a higher wage level and opportunity than the origin. Contesting, positing, and proving these major theories of migration are only out to demonstrate models or theories have players… the major player is the migrant themselves. The bottom line is that people move out, there’s an origin and destination and top of it all there is a DECISION process.

Migration in the layman’s context can just be explained by perception and experience. Take for example the case of a disgruntled employee. If an employee considers himself underpaid due to his subjective notion of the “marketability” of his qualification and experience, he moves out of his current company for another company whom he thinks can provide him a bigger salary that can support his day to day needs and his lifestyle as well.

Temporary vs. Permanent Migration – What is my choice? Where do I work, live and die? Who am I?

The rational choice theory, whose origins can be traced to classical (Adam Smith and David Ricardo) and neoclassical (William Jevons) economic literatures, explains that the decision maker decides in favor of the thing that would provide him the maximum utility. It means that between two almost identical objects, the decision is based on set parameters that provide the maximum deliverables. Decisions are based on pre-conceived motivations. To simply put it in the Pinoy context: “I will buy at McDonalds because I like Ronald McDonald because he is more handsome than the Jolibee mascot.” The decision is not solely based on the functionalities of the product but the “value added” perception.

The “Jobs” word is the most studied five letter word in the whole world wide universe. It is often used and abused in several contexts, economics, sociological, business, even in sexual framework. Those who have no jobs look for it. Those who are not satisfied with it look for another one. Those who cannot look for one loose their dignity. Jobs make the world go round. Without any job, one does not have any money and according to Kiyosaki in his famous Rich Dad Poor Dad self help book “the lack of money is the root of all evil.” Ergo, no job, no money, no honey.

Availability of jobs, job creation, job discrimination, job benefits and job tenure are among the focal points that are being discussed in the International Labor Organization (ILO) forums. When one nation implements properly good policies in reference to these focal points it can be construed that it has a stable economy. These nations often termed as More Developed Countries or MDCs have the earnestness to promulgate laws that protects constituents by drafting, enacting and implementing measures that ensures the stability of its labor market. On the other side of the fence are the Less Developed Countries or LDCs that has yet to learn the conventions of what is the “proper” implementation of policies that has a “jobs” word stamped on it.

Availability of Jobs and Job Creation policies. When a corporation or company expands they make jobs available. When a start up company is supported by equitable regulations and structures that provides assistance in capital such as banks offering low interest rates they create jobs.

  1. Job discrimination policies. When there is equal opportunity on gender, age, class and ethnicity then there is less discrimination.
  2. Job benefits policies. When government and companies provide welfare for the workers’ family members from hospitalization or health, well-being and sanity through vacation leaves and personal improvements to a good retirement plan then it is proven beneficial to the worker.
  3. Job tenure policies. When job contracts provide workers security of tenure with reference to nature of the job’s tenure (permanent or contractual) and there are available opportunities after the contract expires can be one indicator a nation has a policy on this aspect.

Do we have these here in the Philippines? If we have these… why leave?

The MDCs of choice

Two types of international migration: permanent and temporary.

Where do permanent migrants go? What are their job qualifications?

Several studies on permanent migration has concluded that MDCs such as the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia are the first choices of the permanent migrants. These types of migrants are doctors, nurses, teachers and IT professionals. The migration to the United States is one of the most popular subjects of theses and dissertation due to the fact that there is already a pre conceived notion that it is the land of milk and honey and its bully economy.

Every clan in the Philippines has a relative in the United States. How did they get there are stories worth telling. In some other cases where there are no relatives in the US for sponsorship, using the internet technology, Filipina women have prostituted themselves through chat networks like Yahoo, ICQ and AOL. To these women, male workers living in the United States: African American, Caucasian American, Amerasians and Filipino Americans are considered as their knights in shinning armor. They have browsed and lurked in the internet, posted their pictures in the websites and chat rooms. These women belong to different societal classes from professional prostitutes to decent school teachers in prominent catholic schools. These new types of prostitutes have either prospered or failed in their virtual adventurism. Some may have gotten married to their male concept of knight in shining armour and has lived happily ever after but others ended up in the statistics of battered women.

Canada, New Zealand and Australia now provide the next best alternatives to the land of the free and home of the brave. They have a systematized recruitment process. One can swipe a credit card virtually to apply for an immigrant application forms. Applications are evaluated based on point system which is based on the usual job application requirements such as experience, educational attainment and age. Considering the knowledge based economy of these MDCs and the recruitment system one can conclude that middle class are the targets of this scheme. The scheme recruits workers with their families. This is obviously draining the brains out of our country.

Is permanent migration our country’s worst nightmare? Migrating to other country with wives, sons and daughters means fewer remittances. There is no wife, no son and no daughter to remit to. The migrant couple would rather spend their wages to their immediate families than their fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters they have left behind. If the parents of these couples are still living, the couple would rather fetch them and make them live in the migrating country most cases. So what remittances are we talking about here? In the Permanent Migration Phenomenon Remittances is either LESS or NOTHING.

Where do the ordinary laborer, the entertainers, the less skilled laborers and the tsimays go?

Everybody in Pinas knows that the Japayukis have gone to Japan and the construction workers with their bosing architects and engineers are in Saudi Arabia and the Middle Eastern countries. .The tsimays are all over the continents of the earth. They have families here in Pinas. They come back to copulate with their spouses on allowed vacations; spend their hard earned money to buy toys for their hijos and dresses for their hijas; they buy gifts and chocolates for their nanays, tatays, ates, kuyas and their pamangkins at the duty free shops once the plane has landed; extorted by customs and immigration officers before passing through the passenger exits of the international airport.

The bulk of the whole package of remittances comes from temporary migrants. These Filipinos have suffered a lot in countries where policies are not favorable for these types of workers. Their migratory journey in some cases is an experience of human trafficking as a factory worker in Taiwan and Korea, illegal recruitment, prostitution dens in Japan, a work comparable to slave labor in the Middle Eastern countries. It is beyond doubt a journey of blood, sweat and tears.

What happens to the well being of families of these temporary migrants?

Temporary work migration of either one of the spouses to MDCs such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Japan creates an imbalance in the emotional well being of the migrant’s children. When the father leaves, the authority figure is shouldered by the mother. That is why in all probability why the male child is prone to become a homosexual when there is no male authority figure left in the house. The clannish culture of the Filipinos, in some instances has become the saving grace of the Filipino malehood whereby it has provided the male Filipino child the needed male authority figures in the persona of their uncles and grandfathers.

This state of gullibility is further enhanced by the culture that tolerates homosexuality and the media who condones the homosexual eroticism of gay men like Boy Abunda. The media is now sending the message that it’s cool, alright and ok to be gay in the Philippines. This is what the boy picks up. Even the name Boy Abunda sends out a subliminal message that the operational definition of the Filipino culture, the word “boy” means gay in the Philippines.

There are cases where wives have engaged in extra-marital relationships to fill up the gap of the need to copulate. One cannot blame the other because of the absence of a true husband and wife, father and son, father and daughter relationships. Also in some cases, women have “mismanaged” hard earned remittances because of the clannish culture of freeloading. Freeloading relatives of the OFW wives slice through the pie of the hard earned remittance of the OFW husband. The OFW husbands on the other hand, in some instances feast on extramarital affairs by copulating with other female OFWs.

This type of migration is making families suffer. The normalcy of the family has been sacrificed. And the bottom line is that the families of temporary migrant workers are producing male children with homosexual tendencies and female children with masculine-superior complex who are the future prostitutes ready to sell themselves to wannabe alpha males of MDCs.

What is left? What is to be done?

While everyday, 2,400 new “boat people” of Asia are leaving the country temporarily and permanently, Filipinos still go on with their blessed lives either being patient with politicians promises, hearing moral sermons from the priests every Sunday, the females watching tele-novelas and the showbiz tsismis, the males testing their libido by having a drinking spree with his buddies in karaoke bars’ VIP rooms… waiting for the next Fatima like miracle.

Again… the widening gap. Filipinos may have been seeing and experiencing this but are not aware of it, probably just ignored it and don’t want to talk about it. Just take a look at the satellite pictures taken by the software called google earth. Picture speaks louder than any loudmouth social scientists in NGOs. The great divide between the affluent leisure class rich, the struggling middle class, and the marginalized poor can be clearly seen in the picture. The divide is a street called Daang Hari at the back of the Great Wall of Ayala Alabang Village (AAV).on the right area of the picture. The Alabang Village people enjoys their big lots with swimming pools, big lawns while it would take twenty Gilid people shanties to fill up the area of a house in AAV. The middle class on the other hand is getting sucked up by the angst and the desperation of the squatter people. The squatteric people lives just beside the middle class community and have access to roads, the middle class logically become victims of the desperate urban poor criminals. The posh AAV residents on the other hand enjoy their wall of security, literally and figuratively, as if they are living in a country of their own.

There now remains Filipinos who have not opted to become “boat people”. Meanwhile, the widening gap between the HAVES and the HAVE NOTS are obvious from the color of their skin, to the styles of their clothes and the manner of their conversation. Once this gap becomes wider to the point where the HAVE NOTS have grossly and gravely felt that they are discriminated, oppressed and marginalized there would be a point of a SNAP. The snap is where some learned individuals would again call for a revolution. SNAPPING POINTs are historical phenomena among nations to patch in that gap through revolutions or civil war. WARs and Revolts have always had ECONOMIC parameters. Now whether it would be a bloody one or not is the million dollar remittance question.

Figure 1- The Shanties and the Swimming Pools

Bridging the GAP before it SNAPS

Is there harmony in the house?

“Working together for a common good” is a phrase often inferred but not commonly practiced. To work for the common good starts from the realization of where one is in order to identify what is good and what is common in the house. A nation that is not politically and economically stable is like a house divided or a house where there is disharmony of every component. It’s been taught in economics that this science is simply the art of household management in a macro level. Such cue has been taken from Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister has said that “Running the economy is like running the household.” In Chinese fengshui, balance and harmony in the arrangement of the house from the placement of the masters bed room, the first son, the youngest son to the youngest daughter. Every object is arranged to signify harmony in order to attract wealth, prosperity and luck.

In fengshui, a toilet is not placed on top of the living room or any bedroom not as a superstitious belief but for plain and simple logic. If there’s a leak in the toilet the filthy water would certainly drench down the living room or the bedroom. Proper arrangement of the components of the house should not only be considered from its logical perspective but for the well being of the family and its guest and their outlook as well. A house located on the dead end of the road is considered inauspicious because there is a great probability that an out of control vehicle might ram into the house. If the house therefore is located in a dangerous location, there is a dreadful outlook of accidents and in worst cases, death.

Harmony in physical arrangements of objects and components in a macro level of economics means proper planning of the LAND. Land is where LABOR lives and where LABOR locates its houses. And well planned city or locality is a well planned economy. Like in household management, there’s a place to cook, eat, dine, dispose waste and relax, the city on the other hand has to have the right components to produce, buy and sell, dump garbage and watch movies or play. Taking the principles of fenghsui, if the industrial sites of production are placed near the residential areas, the odds of residents getting sick through smog emitted by factories are high. Garbage dumps located near commercial areas are unquestionably bad for business.

Singapore is one of the well planned cities that has benefited from this principle of proper arrangement of components. The towns and cities in the Philippines on the other hand have been designed and built by the Spaniards. In the middle or center of each locality are the seats of power –the church and the town hall and surrounding them are residential houses of the rich and the affluent. As the town evolved to a city, comes a realization that the center of activity is not the interventionists but the producers, the buyers and the sellers. The market is now the midpoint of all economic and political activity. The market is where the nations rise and fall, where war starts and where good outlook begins. All the data of GNPs, GDPs, Stocks and Equities comes from this epicenter. The Ayalas, the Sys and the Gokongweis have created different epicenters called the malls. This has been the center of the Filipino economic activity and has been killing the small time traders in the Filipino common market called palengke or talipapa.

Just and fair taxation.

Prof. Nito Doria in his article “Reform or Revolution” interpreting the Keneysian economic concept of “robbing the rich” has stated that the government “as the only agency capable of compensating for the alleged deficiencies of nature. ” His argument in the article and his instructs as a guest lecturer in one of the author’s class on economic thoughts contends that productivity of the land should be taxed. Not to confuse this concept of taxation with real estate tax which taxes the ownership of the property, this type of taxation sips through the income derived from rent. The malls of the Ayalas, the Sys and the Gokongweis are taxed on their profit on rentals as income on labor and/or capital but not on rent.

Thou this novel concept of taxation can either be reformatory or revolutionary, policies that can be put in place that can work around the culture, politics and socio-political structure only need to be fine tuned with reference to proper implementation. Taxation if simplified only involves plain processes :

  • pre-assessment
  • assessment and billing
  • collection and remittance
  • integration in the budget and spending

Pre-assessment involves the definition of what object is taxable and how much it will be taxed. Legislators define what is and who is to be taxed. The Philippines has a well defined tax structures. Unfortunately, problem lies on the next procedures.

Assessment of property taxes, imports and income is a function of measurement. This involves evaluation of the quantity and quality with reference to the goods or property and simple quantification of earned profits from sale or wages. The technological advancement may have facilitated this process on one end but on the other hand, this still involves human decision process. Importation for example are still examined and appraised according to the discretion of an authority so is with real estate properties and income from sales and wages. Controls or fraud countermeasures to check and balance the procedure have been set in laws and regulations governing revenue generating agencies nonetheless, the problem lies on the systemic corrupt culture. Its implementation and its interpretation depend on the intention of the appraiser.

Billing and collection of assessed tax is another process that is a grey area in revenue generation. There are BIR and BOC employees who have been caught red handed when they have failed to remit collected taxes through a series of hardly noticeable diversionary tactics.

Integration in the national budget and spending the revenues collected are functions that ends in the hands of the legislators. The executive branch may have their allocation but the biggest bulk of the revenues go to the Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) or the infamous pork barrel. What is horrendous is that it is UNAUDITABLE. The executive branch on the other hand has its own CDF version that is called Intelligence Fund… also UNAUDITABLE.

The common denominator of all of these procedures in taxation is INTRANSPARENCY. The Filipino people do not know how much the government has lost or gained along the process. Revenue generating agencies employees have complained about low salary they are receiving and have pointed to this if being confronted on the corruption issue. The salaries have been raised x number of times yet corruption is still there. Legislators and the Executive Branches’ top management on the other hand feast on the National Budget by getting and spending without the benefit of being audited. In worse cases funds that have been allocated for socio-economic development have been divested. Eg Bolante.

Figure 2 shows the context diagram of the current Philippine Taxation System. That clearly shows the biggest question lies on what does the taxpayer gets in return?…. A poor facilitation of the delivery of goods and services or no facilitation at all.

Figure 2 – Current Taxation System – Context Diagram

The TRANSPARENCY issue is nothing new. Some brilliant mind would say that legislation is an issue in implementing controls using information technology. On the other hand, the law is already in place. The heads of government agencies if they only have the political will to implement change can work around the laws. Point is that if the systemic corruption can work around the existing laws, rules and regulations governing the agency, why not the making the “work around” on the good side by implementing changes without the benefit of the gobbledygook legal hooplas in the senate and congress. Lobbying for any bill that would adapt neo-technological structures would take x number of months or probably years of grandstanding on the pros and cons in the senate rostrum. Legal structure is not an issue. Laws, rules and regulations are already there. The real problem lies on how they are being interpreted. Changes in procedures can go hand in hand with revisions of the law. What is legal is not necessary moral.

The issue of Transparency has always been the big problem of government. If it is a problem in a common household when the bread and butter earners do not disclose each other’s earning, it is also the same thing in the macro level. It is important to know how much we have in the coffers of the treasury so that everyone knows how to act accordingly on a tight or no budget. If there is no money, there is nothing to manage.

Managing Money through Dialogues in the Household and in the Cities

The city should always have a continuous dialogue with the managers of each component, the producers, the sellers, the service providers. The husband and wife, if there is no open communication the marriage is bound to fail with the whole household with them. WHAT DO WE REALLY NEED? Is another million dollar question that is being asked from the individual level. Do I have this money to buy this need? Does the couple managing the household needs a twentynine inch television? Or is it just a badly motivated want that has been the result of colonial commercialism? Does the city need to have escalators in overpasses? Or it is just for “pogi” points. Managing needs is managing money. In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy2 pointed out that household management is like managing the city’s economics :

“The discussion turns to “expertise in household management.” The Greek word for “household” is oikos, and it is the source of our word “economics.” In Aristotle’s day almost all productive labor took place within the household, unlike today, in modern capitalist societies, when it mostly takes place in factories, offices, and other places specifically developed for such activity.

Aristotle uses the discussion of household management to make a distinction between expertise in managing a household and expertise in business. The former, Aristotle says, is important both for the household and the city; we must have supplies available of the things that are necessary for life, such as food, clothing, and so forth, and because the household is natural so too is the science of household management, the job of which is to maintain the household. The latter, however, is potentially dangerous. This, obviously, is another major difference between Aristotle and contemporary Western societies, which respect and admire business expertise, and encourage many of our citizens to acquire and develop such expertise. For Aristotle, however, expertise in business is not natural, but “arises rather through a certain experience and art”. It is on account of expertise in business that “there is held to be no limit to wealth and possessions”. This is a problem because some people are led to pursue wealth without limit, and the choice of such a life, while superficially very attractive, does not lead to virtue and real happiness. It leads some people to “proceed on the supposition that they should either preserve or increase without limit their property in money. The cause of this state is that they are serious about living, but not about living well; and since that desire of theirs is without limit, they also desire what is productive of unlimited things”

This Aristotelian concept of household management may have been plagiarized by Margaret Thatcher’s saying that “economics is just like managing the household.” This concept of household management is congruent to the Chinese concept of fengshui which is the proper arrangement of components of the house. What is happening in the Phlippines is that city planning is done without consultation with the right experts and the proponents that make the economic development plan are not technically equipped with in development training activities. Len Seno has pointed out that

The planning process in the Philippines starts at the barangay level. Plans are prepared by the Barangay Council, and then adopted by the Barangay Development Council, composed of barangay officials elected by the people (Figure 1). Generally, barangay officials have completed only the elementary levels of schooling, and have little or no training in development-related activities. Hence, barangay development plans usually consist only of lists of projects that focus mainly on the infrastructure facilities that are the most obvious and easiest to identify. Some communities do have better planning processes, but these are rare. 3

She further explained the flow through a diagram (Figure 3)

Figure 3 – Flow of LGU Plainning

On the introduction of the same article it has stated that is already an existing concept of this dialogue type of planning and development in the Philippines.

Participatory territorial planning is a holistic approach to development that aims to increase income and improve the living conditions of farm households in priority areas of development. This approach has been used for the past seven years in the Philippines by the Sustainable Agrarian Reform Communities–Technical Support to Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (SARC–TSARRD) project executed by FAO. The starting point in this process is a clear understanding of existing situations, problems and potential at the local level; development plans are then devised accordingly as a basis for accessing resources from various local and international development-oriented institutions, including grassroots organizations.

Local development teams comprising farmer-leaders, local government unit personnel, technical personnel (agriculturists, planning officers, engineers), Department of Agrarian Reform field personnel and community workers from non-governmental organizations are trained and guided by the project in all aspects of development work – planning, implementation/management and monitoring and evaluation. These local teams serve as links to bring the government closer to the people. Over the years, this approach has proved an effective mechanism for achieving positive changes in the economic and social well-being of rural households.

Conclusion :

People migrates from rural to urban and from urban to MDCs because of attraction to a perceived notion that there is a better tomorrow in their target places. This is true especially in MDCs whose policies are labor welfare oriented and the taxes paid by the labor force are properly spent to facilitate the delivery of basic goods and services. The migration phenomenon has to be addressed from the household level, following the path of what is shown in figure 3.

Solutions are just waiting to be picked up waiting to be implemented.

People should again watch Sesame Street and hear Bob singing…

Who are the people in your neighborhood

In your neighborhood

In your neighborhood

Say who are the people in your neighborhood

The people that you meet when you’re walking down the street… They’re the people that you meet… each day…

Now… There’s nobody in your neighborhood… they have all gone where? as what? As “bagong bayani”?


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