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This book presents an updated view of the Philippines, focusing on thematic issues rather than a description region by region. Topics include typhoons, population growth, economic difficulties, agrarian reform, migration as an economic strategy, the growth of Manila, the Muslim question in Mindanao, the South China Sea tensions with China and the challenges of risk, vulnerability and sustainable development.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

“We, the French, do not know enough about the Philippines. We never had significant relations with the Philippines. The Philippines are a question mark.”
Yves Boquet

Land, History and People

Frontmatter

Chapter 2. 7107 Islands

The fact that it is made up of 7107 islands defines the character of the Philippines as a terraqueous country where maritime activities, issues and concerns are central to the life of people, most of them having settled on or near the coasts, some even living on water (the Badjao “sea gypsies” of Sulu archipelago). The 7107 number is used as a symbol of the nation. The Philippine archipelago, as part of the “Pacific ring of fire”, shares characteristics with Japan and Indonesia in terms of geological origin and the risks of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. The chapter gives a summary presentation of the main physiographic features of the country (mountains and plains, lakes and rivers, peninsulas and inter-island seas) and its geophysical origin within the general scheme of plate tectonics. It also includes statistical comparisons with other island or archipelagic countries and raises some questions about the effects of the split of the country between many islands big and small.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 3. A Tropical Archipelago

The tropical maritime climate of the Philippines is marked by high temperature and abundant rainfall. The chapter first examines the major characteristics of the climate, dominated by the seasonal alternation of the Amihan and Habagat monsoons, leading to sharp differences between regions for their patterns of rainy seasons. Typhoons from the western Pacific hit the islands with brutal force, even if some years are more prone than others to the onslaught of tropical storms, depending on the general atmospheric circulation and the strength—or absence—of El Niño or La Niña. Typhoons not directly hitting the Philippines can still generate high levels of rainfall and enhance flooding, due to the increase in the strength of the habagat southwest monsoon flow. Local conditions may affect the patterns of precipitation at different scales of space and time. In this mostly wet country, episodes of drought may also occur and cause problems for agriculture, especially for rice growing.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 4. The Spanish Creation of the Philippines: The Birth of a Nation

This chapter examines the human background of the country from its early settlement to the end of the Spanish colonial era. Different theories have been presented to explain the initial settlement of the country. The Austronesian societies developed a social structure and patterns of commerce that were not completely erased by the Spanish colonization following the discovery travels of Magellan and others, and the conquest of the islands by Legazpi in the sixteenth century. Spanish control meant the imposition of the Catholic Church as a powerful element of organization in the countryside, and the development of cities following colonial Spanish guidelines. Manila was central to a large maritime trade network symbolized by the Manila galleons linking the Philippines, China and Spanish America (Acapulco). The excesses of the Spanish friars were a major factor in the Philippine revolution of the 1890s where writer Jose Rizal was a dominant figure. The end of the Spanish colonial order in 1898 marked the beginning of a second colonization by the United States.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 5. From US Colony to Independent Country: The Construction of a State

This chapter covers the twentieth century, when the Philippines were changed by the US colonization after a brutal war of conquest. Progress in education, medicine, urbanization and transportation was obvious, while the Americans fostered the development of a Filipino political class that was called to govern the country alongside American political ideals, as was hoped with the implementation of the Philippine Commonwealth in 1935 under president Quezon. The difficult years of the Japanese occupation gave place to an independent nation in 1946, which had to deal with the presence of US military bases during the Cold War, profound social inequalities inherited from the Spanish period, and an economic dependence towards the United States. The central figure of Ferdinand Marcos exemplifies the difficulties of the country to attain a truly democratic life. Political power is still controlled by an oligarchy of a few dozen families. Corruption and violence are parts of the daily difficulties encountered by Filipinos.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 6. 100 Million Filipinos

The Philippine archipelago, with more than 100 million inhabitants, is the 12th most populous in the world, one the fastest growing and youngest countries in Asia, and will soon overtake an aging Japan. Causes of the high rate of population growth include the teachings of the influential Philippine Catholic Church (no divorce, contraception or abortion) and the active sexual life of young Filipinos. Many women become pregnant at a very early age, soon after puberty. The country has not developed population control policies as some other countries (Thailand, China) have. Therefore it has a very young population with few elderly people, a situation that may be good for the economy (demographic window of opportunity). The chapter relates the debate around the Reproductive Health Bill, a key legislation aiming at making it easier for couples to control fertility despite virulent opposition from the Church. Other data show that the demographic and epidemiographic transition of the Philippines is far from over: infant mortality rates, although they have gone lower, are still too high. Infant diarrhea and malnutrition kill many children every year. Mosquito-borne diseases, especially malaria and dengue, are threats for the entire population, while tuberculosis remains strong in the country.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 7. The Diversity of the Philippine Population

A country of many islands, the Philippines is also a country of many languages. The Tagalog language of Manila has been chosen as the base of the national Pilipino language, even if Cebuano counts as many speakers. The languages of the Philippines have common grammatical structures, but wide differences in vocabulary. Contrary to Latin America where Spanish and Portuguese became the dominant languages, Spanish did not dominate the local languages, since colonial priests preferred to learn local languages rather than teaching Spanish to their flocks. English, as the second colonial language, is spoken much more, since the Americans educated Filipinos in English as part of their “benevolent assimilation” policy. Today, there is debate about the role to give to English, a colonial language, in the educational system, while English is a definite asset for the Philippines in the global economy. The Philippine diversity is also ethnic, with many tribes of “indigenous people”, mostly located in remote hilly areas. Legislation tend today to protect their customs and lifestyles, even if it seems too late for many of them. Other minority groups include the Chinese and Koreans, who play an important role in the country’s economic life.
Yves Boquet

The Philippines in the Global Economy

Frontmatter

Chapter 8. Emerging Tiger? The Paradoxes of the Philippine Economy

The Republic of the Philippines is an exception in the East and Southeast Asia realm. One of the richest countries of the region at the end of World War II, its rankings have slipped, and its growth rates have been weak for several decades. We examine the main causes of the mediocre economic performance of the country since the 1950s. Many analysts have pointed out an excessive bureaucracy, high levels of corruption and the lack of industrial investment in a country dominated by landed interests. After the high debt incurred during the Marcos administration, Philippine leaders have made every effort to improve the debt situation, choosing to pay back loans, but under investing in infrastructure and under spending for education. The current situation of the universities and research in the Philippines is not conducive to the creation of modern enterprises. The economy, with a small industrial sector and much larger tertiary sector, appears split between a wide informal sector, symbolized by the ubiquitous sari-sari stores, and a “world-class” western segment (huge shopping malls of Manila). Since the mid 2000s, growth rates have been much higher, but poverty has not diminished. There is a typical pattern of growth without development.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 9. Farm Productions and Rural Landscapes

Farm landscapes in the Philippines are dominated by rice and coconuts in most provinces. In a country of generally small farm holdings, rice, the staple food, is cultivated across the archipelago, even if corn plays a bigger role in the southern part of the country. In the mountains of northern Luzon, the Ifugao tribe have developed over several centuries a remarkable landscape of rice terraces on steep slopes, but most of the rice is grown in the plains of Central Luzon around Manila. The coconut “tree of life”, most abundant in Quezon and Bicol, is used in many different ways, from food to construction materials. Bananas and pineapple are the leading export productions, mostly grown on large plantations in Mindanao. Beef production is small, but hog raising, done in small farm pig houses, provides most of the meat consumed in the country. A trend is underway towards the development of large hog raising facilities, a trend also observed in the poultry business. The carabao, or Philippine water buffalo, is used as a working animal both in the rice fields and for pulling carts.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 10. The Philippine Agriculture: Weaknesses and Controversies

The sugarcane plantations of Negros Island epitomize the huge inequalities in the Philippine countryside. Landlords have controlled vast estates, the haciendas, since the Spanish colonial period. Despite the pressure of peasant associations, revolutionary agrarian movements (Huks, then the communist NPA) and the church support for poor farmers, most efforts to implement a substantial agrarian reform, including in the Marcos period and the CARP of Corazon Aquino, have failed in reducing inequities and improving the life of poor peasants in the country. Hacienda Luisita, a property of the Aquino family, illustrates the difficulties to implement a true agrarian reform. The Philippines hence appear similar to many Latin American countries. The country also suffers from insufficient rice production. The paradox is that it is one of the top rice importers in the world despite the presence of the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños. This chapter examines the controversies surrounding the rice import policy and the development of transgenic rice.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 11. The Use and Abuse of Sea Resources

As a maritime country, the Philippines is a place of high fish consumption. Many coastal villages are populated by fishermen, who are amongst the poorest of working Filipinos. International comparisons show that the Philippine fisheries sector is mostly characterized by small inefficient fishing vessels, while some of the fishing methods are extremely destructive to the resource. Today, fishing moratoriums must be imposed in some areas to allow the reproduction of the fish. Poaching and illegal fisheries, including by foreign vessels, especially from China, plague the most important fisheries areas. Aquaculture has developed to counterbalance the decline of the natural resource, but it has negative ecological effects, among them the disappearance of mangroves. Today, efforts are underway to protect the marine resources of the country, through the implementation of Marine Protected Areas in this biologically rich area of the West Pacific. Part of the “Coral Triangle” initiative, the Republic of the Philippines encourages local efforts to rejuvenate coral reefs and mangroves, while allowing tourism to cohabit with more established uses of the coastal areas of the archipelago.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 12. Industry vs. Services

This chapter examines the difficulties of the country to emerge as an industrial power, despite the rich mineralization of the country, which has given birth to a proliferation of mines and conflicts focusing on the environmental and social consequences of mining. More than the lack of abundant energy reserves, the choices of the economic and political leaders have not been conducive to an industrial takeoff similar to neighboring countries. The steel and garment industries have never been very strong, the automobile cluster of Laguna province is much less impressive than what is seen in Thailand, and the high-tech industry works mostly for foreign companies, in the absence of any major industrial firm in the Philippines in this economic segment. The main sources of wealth are in the valorization of land holdings, as shown by the assets of the richest Filipinos. Real estate and shopping malls are some of the main drivers of the domestic economy. The country, however, has a leading position in the world of Business Processes Outsourcing, especially through call centers concentrated mostly in the southern part of the Manila Metropolitan area.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 13. Global Pinoys: The Archipelago of Migration

The Republic of the Philippines is one of the top exporters of migrant labor throughout the world. Millions of Filipino overseas workers can be found in North America, the Middle East, Western Europe, Australia and Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Malaysia). Since the 1970s, the Philippine government has encouraged labor migration as a way to alleviate unemployment at home and to gather remittances used to boost spending in the domestic economy. The government’s Philippine Overseas Employment Agency manages the implementation of labor agreements with partner countries and exerts some control on the myriad of private agencies recruiting Philippine labor for foreign jobs. Many expatriate Filipino women are employed as domestic workers or nurses, while many men are hired to man ships on the world seas, both in the cargo business and on cruise ships. There are also many expatriate Filipino entertainers and technicians. Migration brings remittances for the families and the country’s economy, but critics deplore the brain drain suffered by the country, the disruptions of family life and the persistence of the image of the Philippines as a servant, even a “slave” nation.
Yves Boquet

Regional Organization and Spatial Planning

Frontmatter

Chapter 14. Spatial Structures of the Philippines: Urbanization and Regional Inequalities

This chapter examines the fundamental spatial structures of the Philippines. It defines the role and organization of the different levels of the administrative hierarchy (provinces, regions, cities and municipalities) down to the barangay and sitio/purok levels. This leads to the definition of the “urban” in the Philippines and the rise of urbanization in recent decades, from the original urban settlements of the Spanish era, with their patterns following the same rules as in Latin America (fort, church and plaza), to today’s cities. Forms of housing have evolved over time, from the archetypal bamboo/nipa hut (bahay kubo) and the urban stone and wood house of the elites (bahay na bato), now in decline but patrimonialized, to today’s urban condominiums, suburban gated communities and slums. The last part of the chapter examine the profound spatial inequalities observed in the country, in terms of urbanization, wealth, economic structure, and it highlights the dominance of Metro Manila within the archipelago.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 15. Transportation in the Philippines

Linking the islands of the archipelago was traditionally done by boat. Today, ships are still used by millions of people to cross straits between the major islands, since there are no bridges except from Leyte to Samar. Cebu lies at the center of the ferries network, while small bangkas bring people to remote islets or through river mouths and harbors. The implementation of the Strong Republic Nautical Highway aims at speeding up and smoothing transfers from island to island. The port of Manila, a small player in the dynamic West Pacific rim, may be relieved from congestion with the rise of Batangas and Subic. Aviation, centered at the saturated Manila airport, has grown quickly since deregulation pitted new entrants (Cebu Pacific) against the well-established Philippine Airlines. A good part of intercity travel is done with buses, since the country has almost no rail transport today. At the local level, mobility is done with quintessential Philippine vehicles: the jeepney (sometimes transformed in a masterpiece of pop art), the trisikel, the pedicab or the skates. Today, efforts are underway to transform the system by introducing clean electric vehicles and reforming the rules of for-hire transportation, despite strong oppositions.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 16. The Growth of Greater Manila

Manila is one of the largest megacities in the world. It has grown from the original settlements at the mouth of the Pasig River and the walled Spanish city of Intramuros. The American period saw major plans drawn by architect/planner Daniel Burnham to transform Manila in a US-style capital city, while the Commonwealth saw new plans to create a capital, Quezon City, also largely inspired by American models such as Washington DC. Those plans were only partially implemented. Today, Manila has become a complex metropolis, with several business centers taking over from downtown Manila. Among them, Makati, Ortigas and Bonifacio Global City appear as the true engines of economic growth in the country and islands of modern high-rise urban development in a sea of low-level constructions. The transport network organized around radial boulevards and two main ring roads (EDSA and C5) and three elevated rail lines, tries to organize the circulation flows in the city, which is now spreading much farther than the official limits of Metropolitan Manila.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 17. Managing Metro Manila

Metro Manila residents are confronted everyday with the challenges of flooding, substandard housing and horrendous traffic. In this low altitude plain, any significant rainfall raises water levels in many small streams, and contributes to traffic jams. The rapid population growth of the metropolis has led to the proliferation of squatter areas, including alongside flood-prone rivers and railroad tracks. The lack of discipline and of decent garbage management contribute in turn to a worsening of floods when streams are covered with litter. The fast rise in motorization rates, coupled with the many imperfections of the public transport system, make Manila one of the most congested cities in the world. Different possibilities to improving mobility are examined, from a reform of the bus system to the redevelopment of the Pasig River. Manila as a “smart and green” city appears as a distant dream only. The daily management of the metropolitan area, entrusted to the MMDA, is difficult due to the fierce independence of local mayors, The management perimeter of the megacity should be reevaluated to include suburban areas in adjoining provinces, due to urban sprawl and increasing commuting flows. Water management should include the entire watershed of the Pasig River and Laguna Lake.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 18. Regional Development Policies in the Philippines

Is Manila too big for the Philippines? Should the government encourage the development of other areas to relieve the burden on the capital region? This chapter examines the efforts of successive Philippine governments to implement a policy of regional planning for a more balanced development of the country. Integrated development schemes, for example in the Bicol River basin, have given way to a policy in favor of special economic zones and growth centers away from Metro Manila. Among them, the Subic and Clark areas, long known as gigantic American military facilities, are now the focus of an effort to create better business and living environments. Cebu, the Philippines’ second city, is also a recent focus of international development. Future trends are examined with the proposal of the BIMP-EAGA international region in collaboration with Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia, while there are also calls for a major reversal of the nation’s political and spatial organization through federalism to end the domination of “Imperial Manila”.
Yves Boquet

Challenges for the Philippines

Frontmatter

Chapter 19. Towards a Bangsamoro in Mindanao?

Mindanao was already settled by Muslims when the Spanish colonization began. Today, the western part of the island and the Sulu archipelago are territories with a majority Muslim population, whereas the rest of the Philippines is predominantly Christian. Since the sixteenth century, the “Moros” of Mindanao have fought outsiders, Spaniards first, then the Americans, and throughout history the other Filipinos. The settlement migration policy of the Philippine government in the middle of the twentieth century has transformed the human landscape of the central and eastern parts of Mindanao, now predominantly Christian, and created a major area of commercial plantations. Political opposition to the Philippine government is splintered between several movements, the secular Moro National Liberation Front, the more religious Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which are the main political negotiation partners of the government for more autonomy of the “Bangsamoro” (Moro nation), while small groups like Abu Sayyaf use terrorism to disrupt the grip of Manila in Muslim areas. The region is also a political thorn due to the quest for revival of a Sulu sultanate extending on Sabah, a Malaysian province of Borneo. These Mindanao struggles are an invitation to revisit the Philippine national identity.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 20. South China Sea or West Philippine Sea?

The South China Sea (“West Philippine Sea”) has been for several years a space of potential conflict between several countries due to overlapping of their EEZs and China’s claim of a large part of this oceanic space, well beyond its UN-endorsed EEZ. The Spratly islets and Scarborough shoal are mere coral reefs, uninhabited for the most part, but they lie in the middle of rich fishing grounds and atop large reserves of petroleum and natural gas. Furthermore, the area is one of the world’s busiest sea lanes for commercial navigation. This chapter presents the general rules of UNCLOS (international laws pertaining to oceanic space), and then examines the competing claims, focusing on the China-Philippines dispute. Despite a resounding legal victory of the Philippines at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Chinese encroachment and buildup has continued. A major uncertainty lies in the level of support of the United States towards the Philippines, which appears as a small local player within a powerful rivalry between two superpowers, but tries to gather support from other Asian nations such as Vietnam and Japan.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 21. It’s More Fun in the Philippines? The Challenges of Tourism

The Philippines have been in recent years a minor destination of international tourism flows, especially from Europe. Most visitors are Asians (Korea, Japan), Americans or Australians. This chapter examines some strengths of the Philippines in terms of tourism potentials (landscapes, undersea diving, cultural heritage), then its organizational and infrastructural weaknesses (transportation), as well as the lack of proper maintenance of tourism assets and the overcrowding of Boracay island, before examining the tourism policies of the national government (the successful “Its more fun in the Philippines” campaign, development of gambling, medical tourism and ecotourism). Four case studies in Bohol (diving and ecotourism), Laguna province (perimetropolitan resorts at a short distance from Manila), Batanes islands (non-tropical landscapes of a remote archipelago) and the rice terraces of Ifugao country in northern Luzon illustrate the diversity of tourism options in the Philippines around the dominant concept of sustainable tourism.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 22. Environmental Challenges in the Philippines

The Republic of the Philippines is one of most exposed countries in the world to many “natural” hazards: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, lahar flows, typhoons, flooding, landslides, and sea level rise. Earthquake risks make Metro Manila especially vulnerable, due to the high population density and the poor quality of buildings, partly linked to corruption. This chapter examines the current policies to reduce risk in the metropolis and the scales of vulnerability, both at the national, regional, community and individual levels, focusing on the resilience of people and society when confronted with danger. Their vulnerability is heightened with several forms of environmental degradation, such as deforestation, soil impoverishments, mining impacts, all favoring landslides and floods, as well as the loss in biodiversity, both in maritime and land areas. Despite the establishment of protected areas and natural parks, adaptation to climate change and mitigation of damage remains difficult and requires building up a better institutional resilience.
Yves Boquet

Chapter 23. Conclusion: Towards Sustainable Development in the Philippines?

For many years, the Philippine archipelago, as we hope to have shown throughout this book, has suffered from many ills, some related to its geography and natural environment, some to its major demographic trends, many also from its social, economic and political structures and choices and its early insertion within a globalized economy. Resources have been depleted or severely damaged (forests, soils, water, coral reefs, mangroves, fisheries). Environmental losses may be linked to extensive factors (economic and population growth) as well as intensive factors (unequal distribution and access to market resources) (Montes and Lim 1996). Everything is linked, such as climate change and poverty, a fact recognized by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (Fabunan 2015): poverty cannot be reduced without addressing the alarming issue of climate change, which is hurting the poorest countries and the poorest people.
Yves Boquet

Backmatter

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