The Philippines is a dangerous land; why the election is important to your kids


Super typhoon Yolanda aims for the Philippines [Photo credit: Google Earth]

If you value your kids, you’ll read this article.

About 2 1/2 years ago, I wrote one of this blog’s most popular articles, entitled “The Philippines: the most dangerous land on the planet“. A reader took me to task for giving foreigners a bad impression of the Philippines. Then, two weeks later, on November 7, 2013, I hurriedly wrote “Most dangerous land: Exhibit A” showing the map above. I made a couple of comments, then no one heard from me until a month later when I was finally able to text:

December 7: Thanks for concerns. We are fine. Absolutely no services is all. Still can’t load web pages. No band width on smart with a generator powering things I suppose. More when connected. Regards. Joe

You see, Yolanda hit on the 8th. We were sealed off, isolated, electricity out, cellular service down, living on the edge for a time when it could have turned to desperation, to robberies and riots had Petron not gotten a truck in to fuel the generators that got essential services up and running. Petron also brought in hope and optimism on that one truckload of gas.

Where are we today? And does the election matter?ND-GAIN02

According to the experts, it matters. This is serious business, whether or not a nation is orderly and prepared, working diligently to be ready for natural disasters. Working on water, sanitation, housing, food security and disaster recovery.

Forget Roxas vs Romualdez in Tacloban. That is the petty stuff of tabloid journalists and insensitive political gameplayers. It is a minor event in the big picture. Those who cite that confrontation likely didn’t go out on Day 1 to slog though wreckage and bodies to get an airport opened; I’d suggest they ought not reveal their singular lack of compassion and respect for those who did.

Let’s turn to the experts. How well do they think the Philippines is doing, and what factors play a role in Philippine vulnerability and readiness?

The Philippines, compared to other countries around the world, is ranked 100 among 180 ranked nations in terms of vulnerability and readiness to deal with natural disasters. The rating agency is the Notre Dame Global Adaption Index. You can look at the entire list of rated countries here: Country Rankings

The first chart shows the overall index trend line, which raises the question, what kind of “change” do you really think the Philippines needs in the forthcoming election?

Improvement since 2004 has been dramatic. For those people demanding “change”, what direction, really, are you speaking of??

ND-GAIN03Two factors make up the index . . . vulnerability and readiness . . . and I will leave the technical calculation of the mixed score to the end of the article. It’s mathematical. Here is how the Philippines has improved, along with one area where progress has gone the wrong direction:


The desired trend line for this measure is down. The rating measures vulnerability and the goal is to reduce the risks. The measure does not compare countries on how many storms they have or volcanic and seismic activity, but rather the efforts of governments to put in place systems and programs that can guard against natural disasters.

The Philippines has shown improvement in:

  • water availability
  • reduction in slum dwellings
  • access to good sanitation
  • electricity access (better and less dependent on foreign sources)
  • disaster preparedness.

The one backward step is an increase in share of people living in vulnerable rural areas. That’s essentially from a high birth rate in poor rural areas. Talk to the Catholic Church if you have further questions . . . or to Senators Legarda and Sotto who trimmed a billion pesos out of RH funding for contraceptives.

President Aquino does not work in a vacuum . . . or a dictatorship.


Readiness is measured in a positive direction. The desired trend line is up.

ND-GAIN04Over the long term, since 1995, the Philippines has improved its:

  • economy
  • doing business
  • social inequality (reduced it)
  • ICT infrastructure

In the shorter term . . . basically during the Aquino Administration . . . the Philippines has improved its:

  • reduction of corruption
  • political stability
  • regulatory quality
  • rule of law
  • education

These were stated goals of the Aquino Administration from the getgo.

Why it matters to your kids

Too many people think the Philippine government  has been sitting on its hands for six years. The Notre Dame assessment presents a starkly different truth. The Philippines is better prepared for disasters, and less vulnerable than before. The reason is that good deeds . . . ending corruption, following the rule of law, education, and integrity . . . affect preparations. They create the kind of focus, order, problem solving and investment that makes the nation safer.

We owe it to our kids, the most vulnerable among us, to KNOW these things, and to vote to continue to BUILD a better, safer Philippines.

Government is not some remote band of actors in Manila who don’t touch us. Work done by Manila DOES matter, and who we elect does represent a choice between stability and instability. We can even assure failure if our choices are bad.

I’d suggest we should not vote our passions in a way that throws the kids, like confetti into the air, to land where the fates will drop them. We should vote knowledge and the good works recognized by Notre Dame . . . and assure the kids of a stable, safe nation.

The calculation of the total score

For the mathematicians amongst us, here is how the total score is calculated:



55 Responses to “The Philippines is a dangerous land; why the election is important to your kids”
  1. karlgarcia says:

    Almost one year ago there were lot of earth quake drills and seminars,when Tolentino was replaced it stopped and no one seemed to care anymore,but preparedness is like riding a bike I think,when trouble comes you will remember everything.

    • Joe America says:

      Not to mention a list of things to do and stock up on prior to a storm.

    • sonny says:

      Just like in diving competition, it starts with the degree of difficulty: For MetroManila, the area of attention (demography), the expectation of success (high), the availability/accessibility of resources (relatively high/low), diver capability (team Tolentino). These are all moving parts at any given time.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    Irineo had a series of comments on Project Noah,the diwata Satellite,DOST,etc etc even giancarlo.
    debate time once more.i hope civil defense will be debated upon.I hope it won’t be who they choose as DND secretary.

  3. Dateline 2019. Just before the mid-term elections typhoon Zorayda hits the Philippines.

    Project NOAH has been stopped, the Diwata satellite is flying uselessly in space, DOST defunded.

    Almost all UP Diliman colleges have been hit by unexplained fires, except for the College of Law.

    The media report on cheering crowds in the calamity zones receiving President Rodrigo Duterte.

    After their participation in the demonstrations, all these starving people are given a sack of rice.


    BPO outfits have mostly left for Guam and English-speaking Nigeria, Filipino migrants are there.

    Nobody wants to manage the MRT after all managers before were executed after 6 months.

    Sequested Japanese and German factories in Laguna and Batangas are in total disrepair.

    The Chinese are meeting their climate change goals by setting up dirty factories in Mindanao.

    Mindanao mining is unter Chinese control, Pastor Quiboloy is a silent partner in these operations.

    Gambling joints are booming, with Pulong Duterte having a major cut in their Macau-run business.


    Rape is a common occurence. Many women have converted to Islam and wear hijabs as a result.

    Killing is also. Educated, cosmopolitan, decent people are targeted most often by death squads.

    Pastor Quiboloy preaches every week on sequestered GMA7, saying ignorance is blessed.

    EDSA is full of crowded buses as the MRT no longer works and cars are prohibitively expensive.

    The Philippine Internet is behind a Chinese-built national firewall. Propaganda is everywhere.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, and people of means who want their kids to have a competitive education will leave. There will a brain drain of major proportions. The flight will be almost panic level as out-of-work thugs roam the streets storming this home or that, aiming to teach intellectuals and the well-off that they are really bad people. The price of guns will rise according to increased demand. Smuggled imports will fill the demand.

  4. Madlanglupa says:

    Good News: BBM just did a huge mistake in the debate.

  5. NHerrera says:


    Just checking the formula ND-Gain =(RI – VI + 1)*50 for extreme cases.


    RI = Readiness Indicator
    VI = Vulnerability Indicator

    FIRST, RI = 0.421, VI = 0.430 yields 49.6 (rounded from 49.55). That checks the focused (most recent) data in the blog article.


    RI = 0, VI = 1 yields 0 as it should.
    RI = 1, VI = 0 yields 100 as it should.

    Joe, I can’t fault the formula used!

      • NHerrera says:

        From 2004 to 2015 there is about a 7.5 points of ND-Gain, about half during Pres Arroyo’s time (credit where credit is due) and about half during Pres Aquino’s time. Considering the greater population hence the greater infra and other demands, the weighted gain during Pres Aquino’s time is probably greater.

        And here is a play on the indicators for the four Presidential Candidates I labeled as W, X, Y, Z:

        ———– RI——– VI——– ND-GAIN/LOSS
        W——— 0.30—— 0.65—— 32.50
        X——— 0.35—— 0.55—— 40.00
        Y——— 0.41—— 0.55—— 43.00
        Z——— 0.45—— 0.35—— 55.00

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, President Arroyo did some good deeds along with the skullduggery.

          The alphabet I translate, from to bottom, to mean Duterte, Binay, Poe and Roxas. Actually, I think Duterte would drive the trend down (chaos theory).

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, President Arroyo did some good deeds along with the skullduggery.

          The alphabet I translate, from to bottom, to mean Duterte, Binay, Poe and Roxas. Actually, I think Duterte would drive the trend down (chaos theory).

        • sonny says:

          This begs ND-GAIN.2016 to track success/fail for real-time 2016+1,2,… and more importantly corrective actions. There must be hope.

  6. Bill in Oz says:

    I have been thinking about your comment that the newspapers here are “pretty thin.’ I try to but one every day. Mostly the Enquirer but sometimes the Bulletin. On average they are not thin Every day I find news & articles which Inform me.

    Today’s major article about the Kidapawan by Francisco Lara was an in depth well written thoughtful major article which I spent about 30 minutes reading & pondering about. It is 45 paragraphs long;maybe 6000 words. I any broadsheet newspaper it would shine.

    Also I wonder if the online version of the newspapers are ‘skimmed’ down versions compared to the paper versions.

    I realise that 20 pesos a day is a big spend on a newspaper for most Filipinos. But the future of a child is influenced by parents by the simple fact of either being in a reading family or not being. The future for those children in non reading familles is bleak..

    Yes being blunt again.. As the words of the shaker song say, ‘Tis a gift to be simple, ‘Tis a gift to be free…being blunt ’tis my gift…

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, occasionally, they run excellent stories and a number of opinion columnists are excellent. But lay a paper side by side with a main Sydney paper and what do you see?

      Plus we have the tabloid method of creating conflict through emotionalized headlines or only one-half the story, which is in effect, the creating of news.

      The online versions runs fast and loose. And cheap, I think.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        Unfortunately In Oz the internet has destroyed the financial viability of almost all newspapers ..The pot of gold classifieds that used to appear on Sundays have ended as this is now all online..

        I read the Australian which is reasonably conservative but loaded with ads and a paywall online; and I read the ABC News online which has the advantage of no advertising but being left biased. Via the 2 I get a balance..But bugger all about the Philippines…

  7. Gemino H. Abad says:

    Thanks, Joe! I hope many more readers follow the exchange of views you make possible. Today in the Inquirer, a columnist exposed “The great hoax of the Marcos burial.” The coming election is our people’s acid test! I wonder if we are now between Scylla and Charybdis — between the devil and the deep blue sea?

    • Joe America says:

      I don’t think these ideas get out broadly actually. Duterte does a good job by dominating the Facebook dialogue, which is the main medium for young people. Marcos does it, too. The Roxas rallies in local communities are strong, but seem like a plodding pachyderm against a jungle full of internet bees. Unless people get out of their homes and offices and into the streets, persuasively, it may be the devil. All I can do is seat some concepts. “Think about the kids!” seems to be one that no one considers in their willingness to lash out angrily to get “change”.

  8. chempo says:

    Thanks Joe, it’s something new to me this ND-Gain. I’ll google a bit to brush up. It seems like a good one single index summary of a status.

  9. chempo says:

    The latest SWS polls show the nightmare scenario is coming — Duterte and BB are both in the top spot.

    Some say Duterte’s current rise indicates he now has financial support coming in. What does this mean? He now has the money to buy poll casters?

    • purple says:

      It is a nightmare scenario. At some point Roxas needs to drop out if he is not viable. He and Poe are splitting votes.

      • chempo says:

        I beg to dis-agree.
        My gut feel is the Roxas is strong at the local levels. The media is just not showing his dull campaigns.

        To the media, one expletive of Duterte is worth more than a thousand words of Roxas’ boring explanations of the economy.

      • Joe America says:

        He’s been there, done that. I don’t see it happening.

    • Tambay says:

      Davao City Mayor and presidential hopeful Rodrigo Duterte admitted Thursday that an anonymous Chinese donor had helped pay for his initial political ads that were aired before the start of the official campaign period.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        Well Duterte’s policies have a pro China slant..Now we know why. His campaign is being funded by China…Is that grounds for being DQ’d by COMELEC

      • Joe America says:

        That story ran some time ago and I’m wondering why PCIJ or other outlets or even COMELEC have not examined who that donor is. It is a greater affront to sovereignty than Poe’s husband and kids being mainly American.

      • chempo says:

        OMNIBUS ELECTION CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES December 3, 1985 states the following as regards to foreign funding :-

        “Sec. 95. Prohibited contributions. – No contribution for purposes of partisan political activity shall be made directly or indirectly by any of the following:
        (h) Foreigners and foreign corporations.”

        This is very important so it is further stressed by the next section :

        “Sec. 96. Soliciting or receiving contributions from foreign sources. – It shall be unlawful for any person, including a political party or public or private entity to solicit or receive, directly or indirectly, any aid or contribution of whatever form or nature from any foreign national, government or entity for the purposes of influencing the results of the election.”

        And if one violates sec 95 + 96, or heck any other prohibitions relating to fundings, there is nothing in this law that imposes penalties !!! (I don’t know if Comelec has other rules on punishment outside of this particular law).

        The only check and balance is candidate need to submit a statement on contributions and expenditure.

        “Sec. 111. Effect of failure to file statement. – In addition to other sanctions provided in this Code, no person elected to any public office shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has filed the statement of contributions and expenditures herein required.”

        So if someone is elected President, has dubious contributions that he tries to hide, dilly dally his submission of statement, he is suspended from taking up office. So technically, there can be a situation when there is no President! Wow I don’t believe I’m getting this right.

        Someone please tell me I’m wrong.

  10. – from 2014.

    Water management issues will become increasingly important across the Region over the next 20-50 years, as cities expand and competition for water resources from these growing communities, as well as industry and agriculture intensifies. Overall its demand for water could increase by a third over the next 20 years says the 2003 ASEAN Long Term Strategic Plan for Water Resources Management.

    A strategic plan of action on water resources management was subsequently drawn up with Australian government assistance by ASEAN in 2005, to advance better practices for water management in the Region. Issues include problems of food security, improving access to safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation facilities for all, and addressing the degradation of the environment in vulnerable catchments including freshwater and coastal waters.

    As existing resources are depleted, expanding urban populations could face supply shortages of drinking water as surface water and groundwater resources reduce.

    In some areas there is growing use of bottled water. A 2009 survey found that Indonesia was the second largest consumer of bottled water in the Region, in a market forecast to rise to US$ 2.89 billion by 2016.

    Desalination plants are already in general use throughout the Region, especially in Singapore where around 10% of the city state’s demand for water is met from seawater treatment.

  11. Grace Sapuay says:

    Are you kidding me? This is the best place on Earth. Try living in Syria or Afghanistan.

    • Joe America says:

      Would I be correct to guess that you were not directly in the path of Yolanda?

      Also, if you read the blog regularly, you will come to realize I have a literary style that is meant for meaning and lessons, not literal truth. Exaggeration, satire, word play, many different forms to bring meanings to the message. I’m not exactly a reporter and strive not to be mundane.

      I think you totally missed the point of the article, but am glad you read it, and took the time to comment.

  12. Ryan says:


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