The Philippines as an Upper Middle Income Country: hoax or doable?

World Bank doing Gross National Income calculations. It’s complex.

By JoeAm

I was shocked to hear Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Earnesto Pernia make the claim recently that the Philippines will be an upper-middle-income country by 2019.

It clashed with my knowledge of the rampant poverty in the nation and how my neighbors struggle with food, transportation, and health. When I think of upper-middle income, I think of business executives, lawyers, and health professionals, and that is not my neighbors, for sure.

Was he saying we are indeed becoming the economic promised land, and near-term?

What is Secretary Pernia doing here?

  1. Is he correctly informing us that the economy is not as bad as the Yellows would make it, and things are looking good?
  2. Is he misleading us and throwing props at the President, for whatever that may earn him? Andrew Lim’s article yesterday remarked upon how common this is: (‘Who’s really in charge of the economy?”; TSOH]
  3. Is he doing a bit of both?

Let’s examine the facts. We know the trolls will be peddling this “upper-middle income” concept as testimony that the President is almost godlike in his accomplishments. What is the truth?

What statistic is Secretary Pernia using?

He is using the World Bank’s calculation of an upper-middle income country.

The standard Secretary Pernia uses is based on the World Bank’s Gross National Income (GNI) calculation, which is the sum of income generated by individuals and businesses divided by the number of citizens. In reality, it is a complex calculation (see photo above).

The upper-middle-income range according to the World Bank is from $3,926 and $12,235 per capita annually. The Philippines currently stands at $3,900 according to Pernia. He says “If we just grow 4.4%, we are going to hit over $4,000 in 2019.” (“Philippines to become upper-middle income country by 2019 – Pernia”; Rappler)

Purpose of the Calculation

Why does World Bank do these calculations? They need guidelines for their lending programs which finance infrastructure development in what I would term needful countries around the world. They can use the statistics to judge where to lend and how much, and also to inspire countries to get their financial act together.

Secretary Pernia seems inspired and is passing along his enthusiasm. But as a standard of national performance, the index does nothing at all for the people of the Philippines. The GNI statistics don’t count how many hungry people there are in a particular country, or how income is sourced or distributed.

The Rappler article (breathlessly) remarked that the Philippines would be joining Thailand, Malaysia, and China in the upper-middle income category. The article did not mention that the Philippines would also be joining those economic powerhouses Cuba, Columbia, Lebanon, Fiji, Iraq, Jordan, and Mexico. There are 56 countries in the class.

So the article is clearly misleading. As is Pernia by deluding people into thinking the Philippines is going to break into salvation next year.

The World Bank index does not indicate economic strength at all. It recites a highly technical index that is absolutely meaningless to anyone but World Bank and a few economists. Furthermore, the truth is that, if the Philippines did nothing at all, the index could drop enough on its own to draw the Philippines up, depending on how other nations are doing in a struggling world. Look at how the index threshold to join the upper-middle income class actually declined three years in a row:

  • 2014: $4,126
  • 2015: $4,036
  • 2016: $3,956
  • 2017: $3,896
  • Current: $3,926

Today, the Philippines is above the 2017 threshold. Nothing has really changed. All that GDP growth, all those babies, all that political spiel. Nothing is changing. Yet Secretary Pernia is breaking out the champagne.

It’s a nice headline, is all.

I expect what many struggling people would do upon hearing Pernia’s breakthrough announcement is get even angrier that they are being left behind.


Some argue the Philippine population growth is a huge contributor to poverty. Others say it is a strength that keeps the nation’s economy sound with good opportunities to dominate in the future, especially as a lot of those babies grow up, become OFWs, head overseas, and send free money back to the people living in-country.

Population in millions (

  1. China – 1,396.4
  2. India – 1,229.1
  3. United States – 325.7
  4. Indonesia – 264.0
  5. Brazil – 209.3
  6. Pakistan – 197.0
  7. Nigeria – 190.9
  8. Bangladesh – 164.7
  9. Russian Federation – 144.5
  10. Mexico – 129.1
  11. Japan – 126.8
  12. Ethiopia – 105.0
  13. Philippines – 104.9

For reference we also have:

  • Germany – 82.7
  • France – 67.1
  • United Kingdom – 66.0

All things being equal, the Philippines should be an economic powerhouse. Lavish natural resources, a lot of people who can produce goods and wealth, strategic location in the heart of Southeast Asia, and a year-round growing climate. But all things are not equal and Philippine leaders and economists will blame anyone within pointing range, past administrations, the US, the global economy, the trade war.

It’s what nations that are going nowhere often do. And they paint a rosy picture when it ought to be cloudy at best.

The nation will do better when it becomes truthful with itself.

And when leaders like Secretary Pernia become straight with Filipinos.

Rather than pointing fingers at ANYONE, or citing lovely images of Singapore and nations the Philippines is FAR from emulating, leaders have to learn to hold themselves accountable TODAY for the economic condition, good or bad. Misleading citizens is just more of the same incompetent false reality, the same propaganda, the same sneaky way of denying accountability.


Let’s dig a little deeper into poverty in the Philippines.

Poverty calculations among different countries are technical and complex. The most common wealth measure (poverty being the inverse of wealth) is “GNI (PPP) per capita” which applies adjustments to the basic GNI per capita measure to take out exchange rate fluctuations and other aberrations such as variations in cost of living from country to country. Let us take it on faith as being the best measure available.

Where does the Philippines stand in terms of wealth generation per person?

Wiki has a nice user-friendly listing of 2017 rankings by country. The Philippines is ranked 105th out of 182 countries, squeezed between Armenia and Paraguay. In Southeast Asia, ranked above the Philippines (wealthier) we have Indonesia (94), China (74), Thailand (70), Malaysia (42), South Korea (29), Japan (22), and Singapore (2). Below the Philippines, we have Viet Nam (123), Myanmar (129), and Cambodia (147).

If we were to divide the list into five parts (upper income, upper-middle income, middle income, lower-middle income, and lower income), the Philippines would be near the bottom of the middle income class.

So the straight deal is that the Philippines does not generate wealth at anywhere near what neighboring countries do, and  . . . based on what we are seeing in the economic picture now with investor flight, sluggish exports, rising prices, and weak currency . . . there will be no breakthrough event in 2019.

Income Distribution

What about distribution of the wealth that is being generated? Is it concentrated among the wealthy or broadly distributed so that people get a reasonably fair share? Anecdotally, we can see that there are a few people in the Philippines with huge riches, a lot of people with good jobs and steady income, and a whole lot of people who have been left behind.

Is this an accurate picture?

Economists use another technical calculation to statistically report income distribution by country. It is called the “GINI index”, and here we have a user-friendly list compiled by the World Bank. For this index, 100 is an extremely poor distribution (perfectly inequitable) and 0 is a superb distribution of income (perfectly equal).

Here are a few instructional reference points:

  • South Africa is most unequal at number 1 with a score of 63.40
  • The United States, number 59 a with a score of 41.00
  • The Philippines does slightly better than the US at number 67 with a score of 40.10
  • Ukraine is most equal at number 158 with a score of  25.5

Now, the higher the number, the poorer the country is doing at distributing income. South Africa stinks and the Ukraine does stellar work. Both the Philippines and the US are in the upper half of the list. Both are doing a comparatively poor job of passing the wealth around. So our anecdotal reading is correct.

If we walk down the list from poor to weak and note the scores, the following Asian countries do worse than the Philippines: Malaysia (46.3), and China (42.2). The following do better: Indonesia (39.5), Myanmar (38.1), Thailand (37.8), Vietnam (34.8), Japan (32.1), and North Korea (31.6). (Cambodia and Singapore are not listed.)

Clearly, a lot of countries struggle with how to inspire people and businesses to generate wealth, while also keeping people broadly well cared for. The Philippines could do better. The TRAIN 1 tax law was designed to inspire middle income wage-earners, but did so at the expense of the poor. What is the national goal for income distribution, and how long does a country rely on “trickle down wealth” before it recognizes “it just ain’t trickling down so good”?

The people, the people. The people who struggle.

Again, we can go to Wikipedia for a user-friendly presentation on poverty.

About 26.1 percent of the Philippine population live beneath the nation’s poverty line . That figure has not moved much the past few years. It needs to move down.

But consider a final technical index, one that calculates the percent of a nation’s population that lives on less than $1.20, $3.20, and $5.50 per day.

A stunning 64.2% of the Philippine population lives on less than $5.50 per day. That’s 65 million people. Only Myanmar does worse (67.6%). The other major neighbors track as follows: Indonesia (62.3%), China (31.5%), Malaysia (13.6%), Thailand (11.6%), South Korea (1.3%), and Japan (1.0%).

Summary and Conclusions

Does the Philippines have a robust economy? Yes, in the sense that it has over 100 million people out trying to produce enough to eat, and a large share of its citizenship overseas sending back more valuable currency than the weak Philippine peso. Manila is a large, vibrant city. The service sector is sound. Retail services are robust. Piecemeal manufacturing is good.

Are there great opportunities? Absolutely. Low cost labor, superb location, stabilized and boosted by OFW transmittals, strong growth.

But there are huge holes. The biggest one is the one that economists simply will not mention. President Duterte has cooled investor interest. He has destabilized their confidence in the Philippines.

Furthermore, too much growth is reliant upon government spending that is being aggressively pumped up with debt. It’s like a starving man is being fed licorice and sugar cookies. It tastes good but lacks substance. Whole goods manufacturing is so very weak. BPO’s have lost their sizzle. Agriculture is slap-dash haphazard.

As to the comment from Pernia? Highly irresponsible and misleading. It could be that he is running out of ammunition to be able to explain the nation’s economic promise in realistic terms. So he went with a verbal meme.

It will take 15 to 20 years for the Philippines to rid itself of its widespread poverty assuming the current economic handicaps – instability, red tape, corruption, poor government services – are corrected and the prudent policies that anchored the Aquino presidency are brought back.

I feel a tad sorry for the economists. They have a boss who demands loyalty yet undermines their work. They are left grasping at straws to explain the exciting economy that is NEEDED but is just not being delivered.


98 Responses to “The Philippines as an Upper Middle Income Country: hoax or doable?”
  1. andrewlim8 says:

    Pernia, just like the other econ managers have to counter the prevailing negative sentiments on the state of the Phil economy. That statement is meant to buoy up expectations. But like Diokno’s retort on the deteriorating exchange rate – that it will boost exports – this lacks the entire set of considerations for it to become truthful.

    On a sarcastic note, it would be easy to cross into that $4000 GNI per capita just by supplying more dead bodies from extra-judicial killings to businesses like the Villars’ (real estate/cemetery lots) or helping Davao’s Dennis Uy expand his empire or the construction companies in Mindanao get more contracts.

    But that has nothing to do with income distribution or poverty reduction.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    Moving of goal posts is what we are good at and not achieving goals, so I guess if we set our own standards of what a middle income nation is, we would “achieve”.

  3. Pernia just like his boss, Duterte is hallucinating. Just like all the other followers of Duterte and his minions. They are all just a bunch of self-centered egotistical liars and opportunists.

  4. andrewlim8 says:

    It just occurred to me that the country is so unlucky to have Duterte for president in a time like this – when so many global economic events are poised to seriously threaten our economy:

    1. US-China trade war, which looks like it will be prolonged and will expand into non-trade combat;
    2. rising oil prices ;
    3. pressure on ME countries like Saudi Arabia to prioritize Saudi labor due to their own economic downturn, thus sending home OFWs;
    4. economic nationalism all over- US, Europe which will cut into one key source of foreign reserves

    Just look at how he frames everything from a drug war perspective: the rice crisis is due to rehabbed addicts now eating rice. No understanding of economics, everything is drug-related.

  5. andrewlim8 says:

    Naughtily, I realized that the US Congress has one possible reason to unite amidst all the toxic partisanship: Duterte.

    With his admission to extra-judicial killings, his subservience to China on the West Phil Sea, and his anti-US sentiments, US politicians of all stripes have all the reasons to unite to exert pressure on Duterte to reform. Breaking it down by political stripe and their concerns:

    Democrats – against human rights violations, extra-judicial killings, no rule of law, Chinese dominance in region

    Republicans – Chinese dominance in West Phil Sea, DU30’s pro-China stance

    Evangelical right- Duterte’s violations of several Commandments – thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not take the name of God in vain, etc

    Progressives/leftists – same as Democrats, but emphasis on labor and their welfare

  6. NHerrera says:

    I go a little technical. Looking at the current blog article’s boxed item, I exercised my algebra and got the following:

    1. The GNI (Gross National Income) at time t can be viewed in Local terms, or in International terms — USD — for comparison with other countries:

    Y (subscript t), or
    Y (superscript atlas, subscript t)

    2. The latter measure factors-in the current and last two years (t, t-1, t-2) data for local inflation, local exchange rate to USD and the SDR$ (Special Drawing Rights).

    3. The local measure of Y or GNI is quite ok if the inflation and currency are healthy, but if these factors are not good it affects the international measure of Y. For consider the situation of Venezuela, Turkey, and Argentina — where the local measure may not be bad but when the inflation and currency value is not good, a great understatement for these countries, then the International measure is the only one that makes sense.

    4. Thus, Pernia, at the very least is hoping that inflation and peso value remains healthy going forward. But even if that happens an upper-middle-income level in an international scale for 2019 is pulling our legs. And poor me and my weak legs.

    [The last line is a joke: even now, I can still walk for about an hour continuously although not as briskly as before. 🙂 ]

  7. Mr. G says:

    Joe, I’m not a fan by any stretch of the imagination of this administration…quite the contrary.

    I am however, a big follower of Dr. Hans Rosling and his work on factfully enlightening everyone on the realities of the state of the world.

    Please have look at this link :

    I used the tool that his foundation developed to see how PH has developed over the years vis-a-vis the rest of the world.

    If we follow his classifications of income as determined by the UN, we are indeed stepping into level 3 which is upper middle class. This seems counter intuitive but the data shows it.

    Pernia might be right by after all although I suspect only by coincidence.

    Check out Hans Rosling’s book “Factfulness” which is a fascinating and eye opening read and better yet, watch his various Ted Talks.

    Sadly, Dr. Rosling passed on last year but his son and daughter-in-law carry on his work passionately.

    • NHerrera says:

      Thanks, Mr. G for the link. I copied the Philippine chart of Rosling from your link,

      And obtained the following data of Philippine Life Expectancy

      Male: 66.2
      Female: 72.6
      Total: 69.3

      from the link,

      When one combines the life expectancy of 69.3 to the blog’s current GDP/Capita of $3,926, or rounded to 70 and $4000 for the purpose of Rosling’s chart, we get the intersection of 70, 4000 at the level of the early part of Income Level 2. Now I don’t know whether in a year we will go much farther in both factors. In any case I do not know if the early part of Income Level 2 corresponds to Pernia’s upper-middle-income category.

      [I am just consolidating the items here.]

      • NHerrera says:

        Again, my thanks to Rosling’s Chart, Mr. G. I just want to add to what I wrote above. We are talking about the round figures of 70, 4000 for the life expectancy and GDP per capita. The sad part of this, is that because of the GINI distribution of income, the GDP per capita is pulled quite a bit by the ABC class (10 percent) and a good part of the D class constituting probably a total of no more than 60 percent of the population. So the 40% has less than 70 years life expectancy and (correspondingly) less than $4000 GDP per capita.

        For example, at life expectancy of 60 years and $2000 per capita, the intersection puts the Income Level of these 40% of the populace at Rosling’s Income Level 1.

    • Yes, statistics form those illusions of well being that 20 to 40 million absolutely cannot relate to.

  8. Juana Pilipinas says:

    “It will take 15 to 20 years for the Philippines to rid itself of its widespread poverty assuming the current economic handicaps – instability, red tape, corruption, poor government services – are corrected and the prudent policies that anchored the Aquino presidency are brought back.”

    I am thinking how the economy was sailing quite smoothly during PNoy’s administration and two years later, it is on the verge of sinking. How we were so optimistic that another 6 year term of economic smooth sailing and the country will finally heave a sigh of relief. Now I am sighing because of weariness.

    The last poll of senatorial candidates is not that encouraging either. Poe, Villar, Binay, Pia Cayetano, Imee Marcos, Sara Duterte are front runners. Mar and Robin Padilla tied for the 12th place. SMH.

    I think it will take more than 20 years to bail the water out of the good ship Philippines.

  9. The author of the article below opined that PH economy is overheating despite what PRD’s economic managers are saying. He admonishes that the overheating economy should be taken care of first before starting the BBB projects because such move may further stoke the overheating economy.

    “They must soon heed the warnings and cool down the country’s economic engine before things get way worse”.

  10. Micha says:

    Assuming that Pernia’s number is accurate, the key word to remember in that measure is “per capita”. While we do have our fair share of Forbes billionaires, that doesn’t obviate the fact that some 20 million Filipinos are still living below the poverty line.

    For every Henry Sys or Lucio Tans or Zobel de Ayalas or Manny Pangilinans there are millions who are on the economic margins barely scraping by. This grotesque inequality is a feature, not a bug, of untempered capitalism. Very few winners, lots and lots of losers.

    Pernia might want to delude himself we’re an upper middle income country while he’s sipping his favorite cocktail from the perch of Makati Shangri-la.

    • Micha says:

      It is my understanding that many in this forum are rather uncomfortable discussing the excesses of capitalism or how it gives way to forming a society with very pronounced economic class division.

      But when the chickens will be coming home to roost, as they inevitably would, we should not be surprised that those losers in the millions would, in their desperation, prefer a criminal from Davao instead of that guy from Wharton to be their President.

      Hence, if there’s a status quo we need to buck, as JP had previously suggested, it is this unmitigated neo-liberal capitalist swamp….. to reform, temper and, as John Maynard Keynes said, give this economic system a human face.

      As of now, we’re only seeing the beast of inequality which, in turn, sired that beast from the south.

      • I’ve not noticed discomfort about discussing things here. Perhaps it needs to be framed in an article. The inequality is pretty obvious. Mechanisms for distributing income differently are not.

      • distant observer says:

        Well I can only speak for myself, but I am certainly not uncomfortable to discuss the societal effects of capitalism. To the contrary, I always appreciate your comments that reflect discontent with the current economic system. I however would also appreciate more constructive inputs from your side on how to approach and “solve” the problem from your perspective. Why not write an article starting with a Wallersteinian perspective (who I gather you could be a proponent of) and then take it from there to today’s Philippines? I would certainly read that with high interest.

        • Micha says:

          The goal, quite simply, is to trim the excesses, moderate the greed, strengthen the regulatory muscle along this end. You don’t need to go far and wide in search of a workable model. Capitalist Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, France, Germany, and other European states have adopted a cross breeding of sorts of both capitalism and socialism because neither of those system, as a stand alone, could satisfactorily deliver on the promise of a social contract and create a more just and livable society.

          In the US, we don’t have a pure capitalist system too. The only difference from its European counterpart is that the regulatory muscle of the state had been captured to work mainly for the well being of corporations instead of We the people.

          It’s more like socialism for corporations/Wall Street banks on the one hand, and free market discipline for the rest of population.

          And yet, when you listen to Fox news apologists of this corporate coup de’ tat, they brandish this grotesque acquisition of corporate wealth as the fruit of neo-liberal virtues.

          Time to scale back the balance.

          How much more wealth could a Bill Gates or a Jeff Bezos or a Rob Walton need before they could say they have more than enough?

          • distant observer says:

            Thanks for your answer. To be fair, the CEO’s of many European corporations do not really get less paid than their American counterparts. Regulatory capture is indeed a major problem in politics and it seems that the relatively stronger position of European unions is one of the counter-balancing factors that is not present in the US.

            “And yet, when you listen to Fox news apologists of this corporate coup de’ tat, they brandish this grotesque acquisition of corporate wealth as the fruit of neo-liberal virtues.”
            You forgot about the almighty and gracious trickle-down effect, which is proven to enrich the poor since Adam Smith’s times 😉

            “How much more wealth could a Bill Gates or a Jeff Bezos or a Rob Walton need before they could say they have more than enough?”
            I think it’s not even a question about Gates or Bezos, but merely about human greed. Or speaking in metaphysical terms, never underestimate the power of Mammon.

      • karlgarcia says:

        I for one questioned your beef about globalization and privatization, well you no longer have to answer, because from the events that happened in the past few years and commentary at this thread alone, I can see what’s wrong and what is right, thanks.

  11. chemrock says:

    Pernia was referring to the per capita income, which is basically gross GDP divided by the population count. Joe is right in that World Bank and other organisations needed some economic metrics to discuss various issues, but the figures are never intended as absolute truths of any given situation. Just for example how per capita income figure can be an over simplistic metric to explain income distribution, take the tiny Polynesian island of Tuvali. It has a population of 9,900 and a per capita income of $2,860 (2016 est’d). Supposing the US actor Mark Wallberg migrated to Tuvali, his 2017 earnings of $68m would have raised per capita to $9,828. Would that have made all the islanders into top middle class immediately.

    Data are facts, they do not lie. So Pernia is right. Mr G. is right.
    It is the interpretation and the framing that is beset with problems.
    For decades, economists have wrestled with the difficulties of defining ‘middle-class’ and the ways to capture some meaningful metrics. This requires social metrics and ground level understanding of the cost of living. Philippines has the ‘poverty line’ measurement, which is precisely this — based on social metrics (family size etc) and COL. There is however, no such measures for middle class.

    Pernia is suffering what Nobel Laureate economist Ronald Coase called “the economist’s disease.” “If economists wished to study the horse, they wouldn’t go and look at horses. They’d sit in their studies and say to themselves, ‘What would I do if I were a horse?’” The economists’ disease involves reflecting on people and economic relationships while sitting in one’s office. No real-world experience is necessary.

    In short, an understanding of middle class cannot be gleaned from per capita income, but requires social metrics, and even some intuition. As Joe mentioned, he can’t see and engineers or doctors in his neighbourhood.

    Instead of the propagandistic middle income figure to demonstrate the economic well-being of the country, we should look at inflation. The table below show the list of countries in the world having some serious inflation problems. The trio of economic managers Pernia, Domiguez and Diokno may boast they expected the short term inflation to rise (which they never talked about in the months prior to presenting their economic plans) and they said it will decrease in the longer term (promises promises promises), but the stark reality is that inflation is a symptom of a badly run economy. None of the better run countries appear in the list below. Mr Pernia should explain why Philippines is listed there.

    Countries Inflation % Month
    Venezuela 200,000.0 18-Aug
    South Sudan 122.9 18-Jul
    Sudan 63.9 18-Jun
    North Korea 55.0 13-Jul
    Central African Republic 38.0 16-Feb
    Argentina 34.4 18-Aug
    Syria 27.1 17-May
    Iran 24.2 18-Aug
    Liberia 21.4 18-Apr
    Angola 18.6 18-Aug
    Turkey 17.9 18-Aug
    Sierra Leone 17.7 18-Jul
    Congo 15.1 18-Jul
    Uzbekistan 14.4 17-Dec
    Egypt 14.2 18-Aug
    Haiti 13.6 18-Jul
    Ethiopia 13.4 18-Aug
    Libya 12.1 18-Apr
    Nigeria 11.2 18-Aug
    Guinea 10.0 18-Jul
    Ghana 9.9 18-Aug
    Yemen 9.5 14-Nov
    Malawi 9.3 18-Aug
    Eritrea 9.0 17-Dec
    Ukraine 9.0 18-Aug
    Uruguay 8.3 18-Aug
    Zambia 7.9 18-Sep
    Madagascar 7.6 18-Mar
    Myanmar 7.6 18-Jul
    Tunisia 7.5 18-Aug
    Cuba 6.9 18-Dec
    Lebanon 6.7 18-Aug
    Turkmenistan 6.5 17-Dec
    Gambia 6.5 18-Jun
    Philippines 6.4 18-Aug

  12. Francis says:

    As a college student, there were times where I barely made “tres” — that is, “3.0” or barely passing.

  13. andrewlim8 says:

    I will wager the inflation rate for September 2018 will be close to 7%, maybe 6.8 or 6.9.

    Any other bettors out there?

    • Micha says:

      Yup, peso will further slide against the dollar after the Fed rate increase and since we’re importing most of our consumable stuff (rice, oil, steel, dairy products etc) instead of relying on domestic production, expect prices to go up.

  14. Andres 2018. says:

    Given the Philippines will reach the upper-middle bracket of GDP, lets say $5,000, it doesn’t mean that all or most of the Filipinos are really earning upper-middle income level. Why? Because it is averaging. Consider this example, assuming that a country have 10 people, 1 earning $100,000 and the remaining 9 earning $1,000, the GPD per capita would be $11,000! Thats a rich ass country! But the reality is that, only 1 person broke the poverty line and the rest suffer. Thats why, no matter how big the GDP per capita of a country, you can still witness people having problems of food and the likes. It is the unequal distribution of wealth that is the culprit, the problem that GPD per capita and other economic figures and ratios never tell.

  15. madlanglupa says:

    I should note that there’s also the open-to-the-public CIA World Factbook, which cites copious amounts of data on countries, including economic information.

  16. karlgarcia says:

    Enjoy it while the statistic lasts.
    The Train1 made the take-home pay higher, and all is well if we are to stop there.

    But we all know it does not end with take home pay.

  17. karlgarcia says:

    This just a repeat of numerous rants.

    I really think that with all the landslides and polluted rivers, mining and quarrying should be put to a minimum if not stopped.

    The opportunities in the landfills closed by DENR like construction and demolition material recovery might be a reason to stop quarrying.

    If we scrap old vehicles, we could use them to manufacture new vehicles.
    The e-wastes can be a multi billion dollar potential for non ferrous scrap metals.

    We don’t need new laws or laws reviewed unlike in Waste to energy, which is another opportunity once plasma gasification takes off because of the plasma rock it produces will add to the recyclable scrap metal and concrete. The energy from waste is of course the other plus factor.

    Lots of opportunities to be tapped and mined without actually mining.

    Lots of sustainable jobs too.

    We can be productive in manufacturing, services and even agriculture.
    I am for rice production only in some parts of our country, but smuggling and over importing rice as an unwritten policy is ridiculous.

    With that, our per capita GDP growth if and when it goes high again will be the real thing.

    • karlgarcia says:

      So if I am to answer the question, we are not yet middle income (notwithstanding the law of averages), but It is very doable.

      Although another discouraging news of a new record of National Debt, we are breaking records, but not the records we would need to be broken.

  18. NHerrera says:

    Off topic

    What a US political drama played the last two days on live TV. Who is the US Supreme Court Justice nominee and who is the Senator in the Justice Committee? Difficult to tell from the looks of the picture below. I may forget the names but the image that will stay in my mind for years is the one shown. The two guys were out-trumping Trump himself.

    Fortunately one Republican Senator saved the Senate and perhaps the SC as Institutions by a retiring Senator — who with another GOP Senator will not vote for the nominee on the floor without a one week FBI investigation of the alleged sexual assault by the nominee on a teenager 36 years ago. The Chairman of the Justice Committee, Senate President and Trump chickened out and acceded to a one week FBI Investigation suggested by the Senator — the math count did not favor them if they rammed through the voting.

    I wanted to relate this drama to the local scene, unfortunately one cannot say on the same scale, for example, that Trillanes (himself retiring also as PH Senator in his senatorial cycle) has saved the Philippine Senate and the SC as Institutions.

    • edgar lores says:

      I have been transfixed by the passion and the agony.

      Perhaps the way to relate the drama to the local scene is to advocate for senate confirmation of Supreme Court justice nominations. Not just associate justice appointments but also Chief Justice appointments.

      There would have to be guidelines as to what types of questions can be asked, perhaps not specific to “philosophical” positions on legal questions — such as on abortion and divorce — but specific to character and “anomalies” of character — such as misusing public money to install a waterfall in one’s office or gross “irregularities” in past judicial decisions — and specific to legal theory — such as should supreme court justices testify in congressional hearings.

      • NHerrera says:

        In the US, I understand a short list of SC nominees is also submitted to the President by a group — the American Bar Association may be involved — from which the Pres picks his choice. I suppose another filter like the Justice Committee of the Senate to further vet the PH Pres choice from the JBC list may be good, but even in this, politics especially PH style may also be in the way.

        • karlgarcia says:

          How will the FBI investigate something that happened decades ago, by affidavits or like the TV series Cold Case, realty says it’s the former.

          • NHerrera says:

            Difficult to say. All I can say is: Abangan any susunod na Kabanata.

            • karlgarcia says:

              Everything said that is controversial from now on is recorded by socmed, so the palace can defend Duterte now, but not 5 years from now. His ejk reputation failed to bag him arms deals from Israel, He thought he could get from Russia until he was told they were very expensive, I.e the submarines, he is only halfway to his term, he already has a bad reputation, laway ang puhunan, ang dumi ng laway Nya, namumuro na sya.

    • The dialogue on the matter is very intense, rigid, political, and hateful. Dr. Ford is reviled as a money seeking opportunist in bed with democrats and SC aspirant Kavanaugh is reviled as a would be rapist, liar, and opportunist backed by angry old white men. The dialogue is wholly dismaying.

      • NHerrera says:

        I have not listened to a live US Senate Hearing before this Kavanaugh-Ford one. I thought that the US Senators will be more behaved — but it seemed to me that the hall was fillled with the likes of our Sen Gordon. The Trump virus is infective. I would like to believe that Sen Graham did not display his usual behavior. And Kavanaugh, the nominee — I am thinking if that his behavior is only a latent one surfacing only in the heat of the moment, or more probably an improvised one to please his patron, Trump, who from what I read did not earlier display an aggressive tone. But the sniffing, the near crying may not have pleased Trump.

    • sonny says:

      NH, this state of human affairs, a forensic investigation, is so reminiscent of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle regarding position (s) and momentum (mass x velocity): The more one knows the position (s), the less you know of the momentum (m x ds/dt) and vice-versa. 🙂 In lay terms, mass = intensity, momentum = what’s at stake, s = event, t = time. (aka, sonny’s ‘principia’, much apologies to Newton)

      • NHerrera says:

        Appropriate: Sonny’s Uncertainty Principle applied to this case.

        • karlgarcia says:

          You science and math guys understand each other well, popoy is not the lone riddler here.

          • sonny says:

            Neph, I could not resist the analogy; the Math language is so succinct but I admit also so arcane. My apologies. Our everyday prose covers a lot of communication ground. Thus sometimes I have to use the language of science to keep up with our TSH topics. NH and Popoy are so good at this, keeping up, that is. 🙂

            • karlgarcia says:

              I need a time warp thingy to catch up with your light year headstart.

            • karlgarcia says:

              To infinity and beyond!

            • sonny says:

              Beautiful images, you have used, Neph: warp factors and Astronomical distances. I like.

              Our current physical reality is such that we have to be knowledgeable in two scales of thinking, Newtonian mechanics (macro things) and because of the Internet, Quantum mechanics (nanoscale), the management of super-exponential memory capacities. We have mounted the tiger. And truly we are boldly going to worlds we have never gone before. And yet, our anthropology and sociology are nowhere close to our technologies. The promises of our knowledge of these two scales must be pushed closer to each other to ameliorate the human condition.

  19. andrewlim8 says:


    Here’s one quick way to gauge sentiments and effect of inflaton on consumer behavior:

    Set up a poll (e.g. Twitter) on this question:

    Which has had more impact on you : the reduction in personal income tax under TRAIN 1 or the rise in prices?

    (Alin ang mas naka-apekto sa iyo: yung pagbaba ng personal income tax sa ilalim ng TRAIN 1 o yung pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin?)

    I will bet you answers will be overwhelmingly on the rise in prices!

  20. karlgarcia says:

    Off topic:

    A former DDS was not bashed( as of time of reading) when she regretted voting for Duterte.

    Duterte’s “joke onlies” ( does only have a plural?) can only go as far.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Duterte has no redeeming,compensating factors, no benefit of the doubt can be given him.
      Those who adviced that we are stuck and just wait, then I disagree, because our keyboards are not stuck.

  21. OOT: BBC documentary about the present state of the nation. Harry Roque was fact checked about his statement that PRD was found to have NO culpability in the Davao killings by a UNHR rapporteur. Again, he manipulated the truth and found lying.

    BBC Our World 2018 Philippines: Democracy in Danger?

  22. karlgarcia says:

    Do we dismiss the surveys as paid and therefore not to be believed?
    Duterte’s approval rating is very good, what is wrong with the people?
    This is not being sour or bitter, something is wrong, terribly wrong.

    • sonny says:

      Neph, I think we talked a little about “misdirection” tactics way, way back: he makes sure his minions give him real-time input at some strategic points of governance and uses his office to execute his agitprop plays. He’s, or someone in his camp, no dummy, IMO. This tactic is employed quite often in American football. I think, Sonny Trillanes is wise to this.

  23. Tweeto Wakatono says:

    Isang taon din akong gumalagala sa Tablas Island kahubilo-bilo mga magsasaka at mangingisda. Kung meron Long Beach ang California meron din silang Mahabang Baybay. Sabi nila masarap o nakakalason isda kalimitan ay HINDI sa lambat kundi sa bibig nauhuli. Ganyan din daw ang tao, Mabuti man o masamang tao sa bunganga (malaking bibig) NAHUHULI.

    Si Pinoy Mrs naman meron din bingwit o lambat para hulihin ang nakaw na libog Mr. Sa English tawag nila: Scent of a woman. Ang bagsik ng pabango o anghit ni Kerida o namber two, pabaon niya nakadikit sa balat ni Mr. matapos ang foreplay at illicit sex. Kung tamad o ayaw magshower si Mr. ay hulibugbog siya ni Mrs.

    Pero marunong ang Diyos kahit sa pagtulog o panaginip, naibu-bulalas ang pag ako o pag amen ni Mr. at kung GISING, hindi lasing o durog sa droga at sa bibig niya MISMO nanggaling ang pag amen kahit anong defensa o pagtanggi ng aliporez or kaibigan o kapit Bahay, para bang si Mr ay naihi sa salawal at kitang kita uma-alingasaw ang amoy na kadiri sa madlang pipol ang kasalanan ni Mr. Yung mga tagapagtanggol na tuta ni Mr. ay takatak na mura ang dapat abutin galing kay Mrs. Ganyan din sa politika pag ang politico lumabag sa alin man sa sampung utos ng Diyos at nagkumpisal hindi sa Pari kundi sa publiko mismo. Kung sa ilang pulis HULIDAP agad yan.

  24. Micha says:


    Bongbong Marcos has a Youtube channel dedicated to spreading the good news and accomplishments of his saintly father in aid of a grand plan to recapture the seat of power of the Philippine kingdom.

    After the Enrile tete-a-tete’, this is the latest offering:

    • Francis says:


      Thanks for pointing this out.

      I honestly wanted to punch a wall when I saw this video. Pardon the language—but what the flying fuck is this pile of utterly misleading horseshit. To the Marcoses: You paid for all that “progress” with piles of debt and corruption that sunk our economy. Cory Aquino (and the Filipino People) was left with crap because your “New Society” left us broke.

      Broke enough to consider privatization as one way to pay off for our damned debts that your dearest father incurred. So yeah—I get that the neoliberal policies of the post-EDSA administrations suck and that honestly we might want to give our economic policies some serious reflection with regards to how equitable they are, but stuff like privatizatipn was in part instituted because we were desperate for cash after your selfish family sucked this nation dry and left us citizens hanging with the bill.

      • Micha says:

        The guy is deadly serious about his plan to recapture Malacanang. He’s been connecting with the families of former palace aides, loyalists, and those who have been well taken cared of during their kleptocratic rule. He’s following the Vlad Putin strategy of cultivating support and disseminating propaganda several years before the actual election.

        In one of his earlier videos I posted a comment which I presume he did not like at all so it got deleted. This early, the guy wants it known that only suckers and sycophants are welcome in his entourage – no dialogue, no debate, no listening to opposing views – hallmarks of a natural autocrat, following the footsteps of his dear daddy.

  25. ECabigting says:

    All the comments here shows how bright Filipinos are! However, there is no need for math, statistics and sophisticated analyses. We just need to look at how Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia improved the lives of their citizens. One very important factor missing in the Philippines is EDUCATION – good honest QUALITY education which we used to have in the 50’s.
    I am now living in the U.S. and what set it apart is free good quality education in its K12 system. It used to be that the police is on the look out for children in the streets who are not i school and then question their parents.
    The Philippines should stop all non education projects like infrastructures (including new roads, bridges and airports. Put the limited resources into education- food and education first until one generation get proper education. We can survive without new roads and bridges for 12 years! Then it is easier to explain to Filipinos what we need to do.

  26. ECabigting says:

    How do we get good quality education? Use graduates of Ateneo, UP and La Salle as teachers. Mandate it by law for them to teach in public schools before they can teach in private schools. Incorporate honesty, respect of the law and being on time in school curriculum. At present only the rich families can send their children to these schools and the super rich send them to the U.S. and London. Some of them come from families who enriched themselves dishonestly.
    It will take time but it should start now. It is not easy.

    • chemrock says:

      It’s a chicken n egg situation. If you churn out a magnitude of well- educated people and there are no jobs, the discontent will be even worse. Many improvements need to go simultaneously but I do agree education is one of the most important areas to develop.

      When you mandate by law for Arteno UP and laSalle to do national service by teaching in public schools for 2 years, your good intentions will generate unforeseen disasters. Forced labour does not make good teachers.

      • ECabigting says:

        Did you ever study in public schools in the 50’s? I did and I am now 75 years old. Most of my well educated classmates became either successful businessmen, executives or they migrated to the U.S. There are always room for well-educated people. Jobs will come.
        On mandating good teachers – it is like making high school a requirement to go to college or to have a term paper/thesis before graduating. It should not be considered forced labor. Even doctors go through internship before graduating.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Chem understands national service because he is Singaporean,he had to serve the Army for a couple of years. I also failed to understand that your comment was about internships, I thought it was for graduates and active teachers.

      • Micha says:


        “If you churn out a magnitude of well- educated people and there are no jobs, the discontent will be even worse.”

        Now this is revealing and I’m not comfortable with this view. I thought a well educated citizenry is always a plus-plus, a win for both the citizens and the country.

        If it turns out that you’ll have a well-educated but jobless and discontented mass of people, then it would be so much easier to bring about social political and economic change, don’t you think?

        Or do you actually prefer that a dumbed-down population is so much easier to control?

  27. eduardomaresca says:

    As long as Filipinos continue with the same mental patterns they will keep reaping the same results.
    Most Filipinos whom I know and who have been working in my country (Italy) for 20-30 years are broke. The reason? Lack of financial education (they spend all they’ve got in non essentials like fancy cars, eating out, the latest electronic gadgets, massive flat screen tv sets) and addiction to distraction that keeps them from using their free time in more productive ways (like learning how to save and invest for example).
    Lack of goals: they simply get through the day without a vision to move toward and a nation made up of people who simply coast along through life just does not have the foundation to get ahead. Another mindset disfunction is blaming or the victim mentality, not taking charge and blaming the poverty of the Philippines on the economy. The “diskarte” mentality that gets them to do crappy work which is the result of cutting corners.
    I am married to a Filipina and I notice these and more “mindset” flaws every day and the Philippines is the sum total of individuals whose psychology massively gets in the way of a structural and sustainable economic growth. If expatriate Filipinos who have much more capital than Filipinos who stay home end up broke due to their short sighted mindset, how can Filipinos in the Philippines with much more limited resources bring about a change?

      • I have seen Filipinos I know very well move between two cities, 30 km apart, three times in the same day because of lack of foresight in thinking.

        Or going to a coastal place around 300 km and be proud of having gotten fish a bit cheaper, not counting that it takes up a lot of space in the freezer and the cost of gasoline + time.

        The Duterte goverment is this kind of attitude in action, in every respect.

      • Thanks for remembering that. I actually forget what I’ve written pretty quickly. 🙂

    • edgar lores says:

      Eduardo, thanks.

      1. I am beginning to like the term “diskarte.” It seems to be the key to the Filipino worldview.

      2. As Duterte said of VP Leni Robredo, “Mahina ang diskarte.”

      3. What does the term imply?

      3.1. I would start with the etymology. The term is slang that comes from the Spanish “descartar,” meaning to discard. The image is of one discarding a card to improve one’s hand.

      3.2. The word’s main denotation is “strategy.” But it has many connotations depending on context.

      o Sex appeal. “Magaling dumiskarte si Juan kay Petra.”
      o Approach to life. “Kailangan may diskarte ka.”
      o Street smarts. “Madiskarteng siyang tao. Napaka-wais.”
      o Tendency to larceny. “Gumamit siya ng mahiwagang diskarte.”

      3.3. I think the basic perception and ideation behind the term is that “life is [a] struggle.” Yes, life is struggle, but it is also a game — a game for survival.

      3.4. In terms of behavior, I will derive four corollaries:

      3.4.1. Corollary 1: Do not draw attention to yourself. Act ordinary, normal, and innocent.
      3.4.2. Corollary 2: Always be on the lookout for opportunity. Life is hard and unpredictable but fate can be fortuitous.
      3.4.3 Corollary 3: When an opportunity presents itself, strike!
      3.4.4. Corollary 4: In contradiction to the first corollary, when one is in a position of power, forget acting ordinary, and exercise your mojo to the max! Precisely: “What are we in power for?”

      3.5. Diskarte would explain the amoral mindset of the Filipino. Any hint of morality is Darwinian — the survival of the fittest.

      3.5.1. It explains the behavior of Filipinos working at the airport and in the post office, ransacking suitcases and parcels for valuable stuff.

      3.5.2. It explains the plundering behavior of Arroyo, Jinggoy, Revilla, Aguirre, Calida, and BOC employees of making hay while the sun shines.

      4. Perhaps a fifth corollary would be: When caught, profess complete innocence… feign illness… and hire Estelito Mendoza — who has superior and magical diskarte.

      • Edgar, any chance you’d want to make this comment into a blog article? Or I can use it as the basis of my own. It is such a fine companion to my “free-flowing” article that Irineo cites, putting more structure to the lack of structure.

      • edgar lores says:

        I might add: When in a position of power, a pair hand becomes a royal flush.

      • eduardomaresca says:

        What I observe among Filipinos is my country is this: they can’t live without a fancy car (for example) but a fancy car requires proper maintainance but they spend their money in non-essentials without budgeting it. Therefore they neglect taking it to the garage on a regular basis based on the idea that “tutal may diskarte ako” so, although in a Western country they earn enough money to properly maintain their cars they prefer to live in a constant state of emergency and lack of money because “tutal may alam kung paano mag-diskarte”.
        A better way would be plan ahead, avoid putting themselves in an emergency and do a proper job….
        Thanks for your reply
        Have a great day

        • Always buy new, but neglect maintenance is a major Filipino disease. Look at the MRT, there are stories about how they borrowed material from the LRT and patched up malfunctions – until it no longer was possible.

          Filipino ingenuity has its limits, it may work with jeepneys and tricycles but not with larger and more complex systems, or with megacities from a certain size onwards.

          • eduardomaresca says:

            Tama. Salamat sa reply.
            Mabuti at dumarami ang Pilipino na batid na diskarte ay isang structural na kahinaan.
            Have a nice day

        • edgar lores says:

          Eduardo, salamat.

          Your observation is spot on and, as Irineo attests, is well-known.

          I am of two minds about this. On one hand, I am shaking my head in rue at the folly of Filipinos and, on the other, I am full of admiration.


          Well, it seems that Pinoys are living the biblical injunction of “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. [Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.]”

          In other words, “Carpe diem!” Seize the day.

          This puts me in mind of Zorba the Greek… from the novel by Kazantzakis. There is a childlike quality in Pinoys. They live in the moment… for the moment.


          • eduardomaresca says:

            Filipinos go through life without the rigidity and the heaviness of us Westerners and this is something I admire. I love my Filipino wife, it is just that in some areas of my life, such as finances for example, being married to a Filipina has not created added value. But, by and large, I admire many positive aspects of the Pinoy life otherwise I wouldn’t have married her.
            Thanks for your reply

          • Mabuhay and Yamas! Much in common between Filipinos and Greeks.

            1) Many islands

            2) Tragedies alternate with comedies

            3) Machismo on one hand, but a lot of kabaklaan also

            4) Loud democracy in the agora and in social media

            5) Occasional self-imposed tyrannis, followed by ostracism

            6) A few philosophers – more sophists and mythologists

            7) eat lots of pork and trust their priests a lot

            8) everything is a family affair (see Greek postwar Presidents from just 3 families)

            9) prayed to idols and now have their favorite saints

            never mind I mixed up Ancient and Modern Greeks.

      • 3.4.1. is called pa-simple.

        3.4.3 is called mandurugas.

        3.5 is best described by the term praktikal.

      • 3.5.1 + 3.5.2 = “politics is the allocation of valuables from society to my family”.

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