ECONOMIC HISTORY OF THE PHILIPPINES

ECONOMIC HISTORY OF THE PHILIPPINES

The Philippines was once a model of development and second only to Japan among east Asian economies. In the 1960s, when South Korea was a land of peasant, the Philippines was one of Asia's industrial powerhouses. It produced consumer goods, processed raw materials and had assembly plants for automobiles, televisions and home appliances. Chemical plants produced drugs. Scrap metal was imported and made into steel for ships and factories produced cement, textiles and fertilizer.

Prior to 1970, Philippine exports consisted mainly of agricultural or mineral products in raw or minimally processed form. In the 1970s, the country began to export manufactured commodities, especially garments and electronic components, and the prices of some traditional exports declined. By 1988 nontraditional exports comprised 75 percent of the total value of goods shipped abroad. *

In the 1970s and 80s, the Philippines declined while its neighbors grew and became one of the poorest non-Communist governments in Southeast Asia. The gains made in the 1950s and 60s were lost to corruption, cronyism, and mismanagement during the Marcos years and ineptitude of the Aquino years Now the Philippines is sometimes referred to as "sick man of Asia" and a "Latin-style banana republic in the South China Sea." Its per capita income is about one tenth of that of Taiwan. Many of its most talented people work overseas.

According to The Economist: “What distinguishes Manila from other South-East Asian capitals is the ubiquitous Jeepney, the loud rickety bus used by the city's poorer inhabitants. Once modified American Jeeps, nowadays most Jeepneys are cobbled together from second-hand Japanese lorries. They have become a metaphor for the Philippine economy: inefficient and easily overtaken. In the 1970s the Philippines was richer than its neighbours. Yet while it chugged along at growth rates of around 2 percent, other countries stepped on the gas: it was passed by Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and, more recently, by China. A former American colony, it could have made more of its cultural affinities with the United States, including the widespread use of English. The incompetent and crooked rule of Ferdinand Marcos from 1965 to 1986 bears some of the blame for its failure to do so. A sluggish economy combined with a fast-growing population has forced some 8m Filipinos—equivalent to almost a tenth of the resident population—to seek jobs abroad.[Source: The Economist, August 16, 2007]

See Agriculture, See History, The Philippines under Spain and the United States.

Economic Development in the Philippines in the Early 20th Century

In the mid-nineteenth century, a Filipino landowning elite developed on the basis of the export of abaca (Manila hemp), sugar, and other agricultural products. At the onset of the United States power in the Philippines in 1898-99, this planter group was cultivated as part of the United States military and political pacification program. The democratic process imposed on the Philippines during the American colonial period remained under the control of this elite. [Source: Library of Congress *]

Access to political power required an economic basis, and in turn provided the means for enhancing economic power. The landowning class was able to use its privileged position directly to further its economic interests as well as to secure a flow of resources to garner political support and ensure its position as the political elite. Otherwise, the state played a minimal role in the economy, so that no powerful bureaucratic group arose that could pursue a development program independent of the wishes of the landowning class. This situation remained basically unchanged in the early 1990s. *

At the time of independence in 1946, and in the aftermath of a destructive wartime occupation by Japan, Philippine reliance on the United States was even more apparent. To gain access to reconstruction assistance from the United States, the Philippines agreed to maintain its prewar exchange rate with the United States dollar and not to restrict imports from the United States. For a while the aid inflow from the United States offset the negative balance of trade, but by 1949, the economy had entered a crisis. The Philippine government responded by instituting import and foreign-exchange controls that lasted until the early 1960s. *

Economic Development in the Philippines in the 1950s and 60s

Import restrictions stimulated the manufacturing sector. Manufacturing net domestic product (NDP) at first grew rapidly, averaging 12 percent growth per annum in real terms during the first half of the 1950s, contributing to an average 7.7 percent growth in the GNP, a higher rate than in any subsequent five-year period. The Philippines had entered an import-substitution stage of industrialization, largely as the unintended consequence of a policy response to balance-of-payments pressures. In the second half of the 1950s, the growth rate of manufacturing fell by about a third to an average of 7.7 percent, and real GNP growth was down to 4.9 percent. Import demand outpaced exports, and the allocation of foreign exchange was subject to corruption. Pressure mounted for a change of policy. *

In 1962 the government devalued the peso and abolished import controls and exchange licensing. The peso fell by half to P3.90 to the dollar. Traditional exports of agricultural and mineral products increased; however, the growth rate of manufacturing declined even further. Substantial tariffs had been put in place in the late 1950s, but they apparently provided insufficient protection. Pressure from industrialists, combined with renewed balance of payments problems, resulted in the reimposition of exchange controls in 1968. Manufacturing recovered slightly, growing an average of 6.1 percent per year in the second half of the decade. However, the sector was no longer the engine of development that it had been in the early 1950s. Overall real GNP growth was mediocre, averaging somewhat under 5 percent in the second half of decade; growth of agriculture was more than a percentage point lower. The limited impact of manufacturing also affected employment. The sector's share of the employed labor force, which had risen rapidly during the 1950s to over 12 percent, plateaued. Import substitution had run its course. *

To stimulate industrialization, technocrats within the government worked to rationalize and improve incentive structures, to move the country away from import substitution, and to reduce tariffs. Movements to reduce tariffs, however, met stiff resistance from industrialists, and government efforts to liberalize the economy and emphasize export-led industrialization were largely unsuccessful. *

Philippines Economy Under Marcos

The Philippines economy grew at a relatively high average annual rate of 6.4 percent during the 1970s, financed in large part by foreign-currency borrowing. External indebtedness grew from $2.3 billion in 1970 to $24.4 billion in 1983, much of which was owed to transnational commercial banks. In the 1980s the Philippine economy was hurt by political instability, authoritarianism, increasing foreign debt, falling commodity prices, corporate mismanagement and vast unemployment.

The Philippines found itself in an economic crisis in early 1970, in large part the consequence of the profligate spending of government funds by President Marcos in his reelection bid. The government, unable to meet payments on its US$2.3 billion international debt, worked out a US$27.5 million standby credit arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that involved renegotiating the country's external debt and devaluing the Philippine currency to P6.40 to the United States dollar. The government, unwilling and unable to take the necessary steps to deal with economic difficulties on its own, submitted to the external dictates of the IMF. It was a pattern that would be repeated with increasing frequency in the next twenty years. *

In the early 1980s, the economy began to run into difficulty because of the declining world market for Philippine exports, trouble in borrowing on the international capital market, and a domestic financial scandal. The problem was compounded by the excesses of President Ferdinand E. Marcos's regime and the bailing out by government-owned financial institutions of firms owned by those close to the president that encountered financial difficulties. In 1983 the country descended into a political and economic crisis in the aftermath of the assassination of Marcos's chief rival, former Senator Benigno Aquino, and circumstances had not improved when Marcos fled the country in February 1986. *

Impact of Martial Law on the Philippine Economy in the 1970s and 80s

In September 1972, Marcos declared martial law, claiming that the country was faced with revolutions from both the left and the right. He gathered around him a group of businessmen, used presidential decrees and letters of instruction to provide them with monopoly positions within the economy, and began channeling resources to himself and his associates, instituting what came to be called "crony capitalism." By the time Marcos fled the Philippines in February 1986, monopolization and corruption had severely crippled the economy. *

In the beginning, this tendency was not so obvious. Marcos's efforts to create a "New Society" were supported widely by the business community, both Filipino and foreign, by Washington, and, de facto, by the multilateral institutions. Foreign investment was encouraged: an export-processing zone was opened; a range of additional investment incentives was created, and the Philippines projected itself onto the world economy as a country of low wages and industrial peace. The inflow of international capital increased dramatically. *

A general rise in world raw material prices in the early 1970s helped boost the performance of the economy; real GNP grew at an average of almost 7 percent per year in the five years after the declaration of martial law, as compared with approximately 5 percent annually in the five preceding years. Agriculture performed better that it did in the 1960s. New rice technologies introduced in the late 1960s were widely adopted. Manufacturing was able to maintain the 6 percent growth rate it achieved in the late 1960s, a rate, however, that was below that of the economy as a whole. Manufactured exports, on the other hand, did quite well, growing at a rate twice that of the country's traditional agricultural exports. The public sector played a much larger role in the 1970s, with the extent of government expenditures in GNP rising by 40 percent in the decade after 1972. To finance the boom, the government extensively resorted to international debt, hence the characterization of the economy of the Marcos era as "debt driven."

After martial law was declared Marcos's cronies amassed huge fortunes while the Philippines ran up a huge national that brought the economy to edge of collapse. Real incomes declined by half between 1956 and 1985 as the wealth of richest 10 percent rose from 27 percent to 37 percent. In the latter half of the 1970s, heavy borrowing from transnational commercial banks, multilateral organizations, and the United States and other countries masked problems that had begun to appear on the economic horizon with the slowdown of the world economy. By 1976 the Philippines was among the top 100 recipients of loans from the World Bank and was considered a "country of concentration." Its balance of payments problem was solved and growth facilitated, at least temporarily, but at the cost of having to service an external debt that rose from US$2.3 billion in 1970 to more than US$17.2 billion in 1980. *

There were internal problems as well, particularly in respect of the increasingly visible mismanagement of crony enterprises. A financial scandal in January 1981 in which a businessman fled the country with debts of an estimated P700 million required massive amounts of emergency loans from the Central Bank of the Philippines and other government-owned financial institutions to some eighty firms. The growth rate of GNP fell dramatically, and from then the economic ills of the Philippines proliferated. In 1980 there was an abrupt change in economic policy, related to the changing world economy and deteriorating internal conditions, with the Philippine government agreeing to reduce the average level and dispersion of tariff rates and to eliminate most quantitative restrictions on trade, in exchange for a US$200 million structural adjustment loan from the World Bank. Whatever the merits of the policy shift, the timing was miserable. Exports did not increase substantially, while imports increased dramatically. The result was growing debt-service payments; emergency loans were forthcoming, but the hemorrhaging did not cease. *

It was in this environment in August 1983 that President Marcos's foremost critic, former Senator Benigno Aquino, returned from exile and was assassinated. The country was thrown into an economic and political crisis that resulted eventually, in February 1986, in the ending of Marcos's twenty-one-year rule and his flight from the Philippines. In the meantime, debt repayment had ceased. Real GNP fell more than 11 percent before turning back up in 1986, and real GNP per capita fell 17 percent from its high point in 1981. In 1990 per capita real GNP was still 7 percent below the 1981 level. *

Impact of U.S. Military Bases on the Philippines Economy

The economy of the Philippines in the Marcos years in many ways was propped by the Subik and Clark American military bases, trade with the United States and income from overseas workers. The World Bank played a major role in planning and running the Filipino economy under martial law.

In early 1991, the Philippine government was in ongoing negotiations with the United States on the future status of United States naval and air facilities at Subic Bay and Clark Air Base. What would normally be an issue of foreign policy and national security became a major domestic political issue and took on an economic dimension of considerable importance. At the domestic level, the conflict was between those who argued that the continuing presence of the United States bases was an infringement on Philippine sovereignty and a continuation of a neocolonial relationship and those who, for a combination of internal security, foreign relations, and economic reasons, saw the need for maintaining the presence of the bases. President Aquino, through 1990, refused to publicly commit herself to a position; however, it was clear that her government was working to reach accommodation with the United States. As negotiations progressed, the economic issue became prominent. [Source: Library of Congress *]

There were three economic considerations from the point of view of the Philippine government. First, the proportion of the Philippine budget allocated for its armed forces was the smallest in the region, a fact linked to the presence of United States air and naval forces in the Philippines, as well as direct military assistance. Second, in the latter half of the 1980s, the bases directly employed between 42,000 and 68,000 Filipinos and contracted for goods and services from Filipino businesses. During this period, yearly base purchases of goods and services in the Philippine economy (when corrected for the estimated import content of the goods purchased) was in the range of P6.0 billion to P8.3 billion. *

A third and politically very important consideration, was the sum given to the Philippines by the United States in connection with the presence of the bases, referred to as aid by United States officials and as rent by the Filipinos. Base-related payments were first agreed to in 1979 when United States president Jimmy Carter made a "best effort" pledge to secure US$500 million for the Philippines from the United States Congress over a five-year period. In 1983 another five-year commitment was made, this time for US$900 million. In October 1988, the Philippines' Secretary of Foreign Affairs Raul Manglapus and United States' Secretary of State George Schultz signed a two-year agreement for US$962 million, an amount double the previous compensation but substantially less than the US$2.4 billion that the Philippines initially demanded. In 1991 talks over the future of the bases and the size and terms of the aid or rent that would be given in consideration for continued United States access to military facilities in the Philippines was the most important unresolved issue. The decision of the Philippine administration to bring Secretary of Finance Jesus Estanislao into the negotiations in March 1991 was a further indication of the economic importance of the bases to the Philippine government. *

Philippines Economy Under Cory Aquino

The Philippines economy floundered under Corazon Aquino. Power shortages and brownouts were common. The American military bases were closed down. Economic growth revived in 1986 under Aquino, reaching 6.7 percent in 1988. But in 1988 the economy once again began to encounter difficulties. The trade deficit and the government budget deficit were of particular concern. In 1990 the economy continued to experience difficulties, a situation exacerbated by several natural disasters, and growth declined to 3 percent. [Source: Library of Congress *]

The Philippine economy experienced considerable difficulty in the 1980s. Real gross national product (GNP) grew at an annual average of only 1.8 percent, less than the 2.5 percent rate of population increase. The US$668 GNP per capita income in 1990 was below the 1978 level, and approximately 50 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. The 1988 unemployment rate of 8.3 percent (12.3 percent in urban areas) peaked at 11.4 percent in early 1989, and the underemployment rate, particularly acute for poor, less-educated, and elderly people, was approximately twice that of unemployment. In 1988, about 470,000 Filipinos left the country to work abroad in contract jobs or as merchant seamen. *

In 1990 the Philippines had not yet recovered from the economic and political crisis of the first half of the 1980s. At P18,419, or US$668, per capita GNP in 1990 remained, in real terms, below the level of 1978. A major thrust of Aquino's 1986 People Power Revolution was to address the needs of impoverished Filipinos. One of the four principles of her "Policy Agenda for People-Powered Development," was promotion of social justice and poverty alleviation. Government programs launched in 1986 and 1987 to generate employment met with some success, reversing the decline of the first half of the decade, but these efforts did little to alleviate the more chronic aspects of Philippine poverty.

After Aquino took office the most immediate task for here economic advisers was to get the economy moving, and a turn around was achieved in 1986. Economic growth was low (1.9 percent), but it was positive. For the next two years, growth was more respectable--5.9 and 6.7 percent, respectively. In 1986 and 1987, consumption led the growth process, but then investment began to increase. In 1985 industrial capacity utilization had been as low as 40 percent, but by mid-1988 industries were working at near full capacity. Investment in durable goods grew almost 30 percent in both 1988 and 1989, reflecting the buoyant atmosphere. The international community was supportive. Like domestic investment, foreign investment did not respond immediately after Aquino took office, but in 1987 it began to pick up. The economy also was helped by foreign aid. The 1989 and 1991 meetings of the aid plan called the Multilateral Aid Initiative, also known as the Philippine Assistance Plan, a multinational initiative to provide assistance to the Philippines, pledged a total of US$6.7 billion. *

Economic successes, however, generated their own problems. The trade deficit rose rapidly, as both consumers and investors attempted to regain what had been lost in the depressed atmosphere of the 1983-85 period. Although debt-service payments on external debt were declining as a proportion of the country's exports, they remained above 25 percent. And the government budget deficit ballooned, hitting 5.2 percent of GNP in 1990. *

The 1988 GNP grew 6.7 percent, slightly more than the government plan target. Growth fell off to 5.7 percent in 1989, then plummeted in 1990 to just over 3 percent. Many factors contributed to the 1990 decline. The country was subjected to a prolonged drought, which resulted in the increased need to import rice. In July a major earthquake hit Northern Luzon, causing extensive destruction, and in November a typhoon did considerable damage in the Visayas. There were other, more human, troubles also. The country was attempting to regain a semblance of order in the aftermath of the December 1989 coup attempt. Brownouts became a daily occurrence, as the government struggled to overcome the deficient power-generating capacity in the Luzon grid, a deficiency that in the worst period was below peak demand by more than 300 megawatts and resulted in outages of four hours and more. Residents of Manila suffered both from a lack of public transportation and clogged and overcrowded roadways; garbage removal was woefully inadequate; and, in general, the city's infrastructure was in decline. Industrial growth fell from 6.9 percent in 1989 to 1.9 percent in 1990; growth investment in 1990 in both fixed capital and durable equipment declined by half when compared with the previous year. Government construction, which grew at 10 percent in 1989, declined by 1 percent in 1990. *

Economic Policy Under Cory Aquino

In 1986 Corazon Aquino focused her presidential campaign on the misdeeds of Marcos and his cronies. The economic correctives that she proposed emphasized a central role for private enterprise and the moral imperative of reaching out to the poor and meeting their needs. Reducing unemployment, encouraging small-scale enterprise, and developing the neglected rural areas were the themes. [Source: Library of Congress *]

Aquino entered the presidency with a mandate to undertake a new direction in economic policy. Her initial cabinet contained individuals from across the political spectrum. Over time, however, the cabinet became increasingly homogeneous, particularly with respect to economic perspective, reflecting the strong influence of the powerful business community and international creditors. The businesspeople and technocrats who directed the Central Bank and headed the departments of finance and trade and industry became the decisive voices in economic decision making. Foreign policy also reflected this power relationship, focusing on attracting more foreign loans, aid, trade, investment, and tourists. *

It soon became clear that the plight of the people had been subordinated largely to the requirements of private enterprise and the world economy. As the president noted in her state-of- the-nation address in June 1989, the poor had not benefited from the economic recovery that had taken place since 1986. The gap between the rich and poor had widened, and the proportion of malnourished preschool children had grown. *

The most pressing problem in the Philippine international political economy at the time Aquino took office was the country's US$28 billion external debt. It was also one of the most vexatious issues in her administration. Economists within the economic planning agency, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), argued that economic recovery would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in a relatively short period if the country did not reduce the size of the resource outflows associated with its external debt. Large debt-service payments and moderate growth (on the order of 6.5 percent per year) were thought to be incompatible. A two-year moratorium on debt servicing and selective repudiation of loans where fraud or corruption could be shown were recommended. Business-oriented groups and their representatives in the president's cabinet vehemently objected to taking unilateral action on the debt, arguing that it was essential that the Philippines not break with its major creditors in the international community. Ultimately, the president rejected repudiation; the Philippines would honor all its debts. *

Domestically, land reform was a highly contentious issue, involving economics as well as equity. NEDA economists argued that broad-based spending increases were necessary to get the economy going again; more purchasing power had to be put in the hands of the masses. Achieving this objective required a redistribution of wealth downward, primarily through land reform. Given Aquino's campaign promises, there were high expectations that a meaningful program would be implemented. Prior to the opening session of the first Congress under the country's 1987 constitution, the president had the power and the opportunity to proclaim a substantive land reform program. Waiting until the last moment before making an announcement, she chose to provide only a broad framework. Specifics were left to the new Congress, which she knew was heavily represented by landowning interests. The result--a foregone conclusion--was the enactment of a weak, loophole-ridden piece of legislation. *

The Aquino administration appeared to be unable to work with the Congress to enact an economic package to overcome the country's economic difficulties. In July, as the government deficit soared Secretary of Finance Jesus Estanislao introduced a package of new tax measures. Then in October, stalemated with Congress, Aquino agreed to seek a reduction in the budget gap without new taxes. The agreement met with resistance from the Congress for being an onorous imposition on an economy in crisis, growth would be stifled and the poor would be impacted negatively. The willingness of the Congress to pass the tax package called for in the IMF agreement was in doubt. In 1990 Congress placed a 9 percent levy on all imports to provide revenues until an agreement could be reached with the administration on a tax package. In February 1991, however, it was learned that in its agreement with the IMF for new standby credits, the government had promised that it would indeed implement new taxes. *

Accusations were widespread in Manila's press about the 1990-91 impasse. On the one hand, it was claimed that Aquino and her advisers had no economic plan; on the other hand, the Congress was said to be unwilling to work with the president. Traditional political patterns appeared to be reasserting themselves, and the technocrats had little ultimate influence. One study of the first Congress elected under the 1987 constitution showed that only 31 out of 200 members of the House of Representatives, were not previously elected officials or directly related to the leader of a traditional political clan. Business interests directly influenced the president to overrule already established policies, as in the 1990 program to simplify the tariff structure. Business and politics have always been deeply interwoven in the Philippines; crony capitalism was not a deviant model, but rather the logical extreme of a traditional pattern. As the Philippines entered the 1990s, the crucial question for the economy was whether the elite would limit its political activities to jockeying for economic advantage or would forge its economic and political interests in a fashion that would create a dynamic economy. *

Economy Under Ramos

President Fidel Ramos (1992-1998) was given high marks for handling the economy. By breaking apart monopolies, liberalizing foreign investment laws and privatizing business and industries by controlled powerful families, Ramos was crediting with transforming the Philippines from a country with a history of poverty, corruption, rebellion, foreign ineptness and tax evasion into an economic powerhouse that was not yet an Asian tiger but was sometimes referred to as Asian tiger cub.

Oliver Teves of Associated Press wrote: “For a brief period of the 1990s, the Philippines under the presidency of Fidel Ramos registered high growth rates and was touted as the next Asian "tiger" economy. But the ingrained poverty, corruption and crime rate, and the abiding threat of another popular uprising conspire to scare away investors and drain the country of its best brains and hardest workers. [Source: Jim Gomez and Oliver Teves Associated Press, February 25, 2006 +^+]

The Philippine economy showed some improvement in early 1992, spurred by increases in agricultural production and in consumer and government spending. Budget deficits were well within IMF guidelines--P3.2 billion in the first two months. At the end of April, the treasury posted a P5.5 billion surplus as a result of higher than programmed revenue receipts, mainly from the sale of Philippine Airlines. The increased revenue permitted the early repeal of the 5 percent import surcharge, stimulating both import spending and export growth. The money supply grew more rapidly than desired, but was kept under control. Treasury bill rates fell to 17.3 percent in March 1992 from 23 percent in November 1991, and inflation was down to 9.4 percent for the first quarter of 1992, from 18.7 percent in 1991. *

One of the greatest threats to the Philippine economy in 1992 was the power shortage. The fall in the water level in Lake Lanao caused a 50 percent reduction in the power supply to Mindanao in December 1991, and the resumption of full power was not expected until almost the end of 1992. The power shortage in Luzon continued to be chronic. Power cuts of four to five hours per day have been common; in May they reached six hours on some days in Manila, the country's industrial hub. To help to meet this chronic shortage, the government reactivated the contract with Westinghouse Corporation to restart construction on a 620 megawatt nuclear power plant on the Bataan Peninsula that had been abandoned in 1986. This plant however was not scheduled to go on line until 1995. *

To get the Philippines economy going, Ramos and the Philippine Congress abolished tariffs and preferential terms that enriched the rich families. He reformed the banking system and drove down interest rates. He overhauled the electricity infrastructure so that energy shortages and brown outs became a thing of the past.

The growth rate during the Ramos years was a robust 5 percent a year and inflation was in the single digits, down from 25 percent in 1990. Under his leadership, fiber optic lines were installed, property values soared, five star hotels and condominiums were built, the stock market showed big gains, overseas workers began returning home and the former American military bases at Subic and Clark became thriving trade and industrial centers.

Foreign investment increased. Companies like Acer (a Taiwanese company) and Intel moved into the Philippines Much of the prosperity was linked to investments from Hong Kong by tycoons like Gordon Wu, who shipped their money to Manila before the reunification with China. In the early 1990s, the Philippines was regarded as an economic rival of Thailand and Malaysia now it lags far behind them.

Asian Economic Crisis in the Philippines in 1997-98

During the Asian Economic Crisis in 1997-98, the Philippines the stock market declined by 32 percent and the currency against the dollar had depreciated by as much as 48 percent and later level off at 30 percent at end of December 1997. Because many of its exports went to Europe it was not hurt that badly by a lack of demand from crisis-hit Asia. The level of bad loans never got that high. Money sent home by Filipino workers abroad helped stabilize the currency. Most currency speculators were Filipinos.

The IMF offered some help. Foreigners were not allowed to sell pesos. Businesses responded to the crisis in a favorable way. They reduced debt, closed money-losing factories, and agreed to mergers and joint ventures with foreigners. Even so the Philippines recovered more slowly after the cris than some other Asian countries that were much harder hit.

Economy Under Estrada

There was a sense of optimism when Joseph Estrada was elected. Investors shared this sense of hope and initially poured money into the Philippines but it didn’t take long for this optimism to evaporate. Foreign investors were turned off by cronyism, scandals and favoritism towards Philippines companies.

Estrada moved to tighten securities regulations, liberalize the trade of grains and privatize the electricity industry. His effort to change laws limiting foreign ownership of businesses to 40 percent was halted by his impeachment trial.

In the end Estrada proved to be a friend of big business. He revived the culture of corruption and was plagued by charges of cronyism. This was on top of inconsistent monetary policy, slow economic growth, and uncertainty brought about by terrorists and insurgencies. He said he was a friend of the poor yet he failed to launch one meaningful anti-poverty program. Most of his efforts consisted of parading around with movie stars that were reminiscent of what Imelda Marcos did. There also wasn’t much of an effort to pave roads, set up irrigations projects or build school or collect taxes to pay for them.

As Estrada became embroiled in scandal, the peso, the stock markets and confidence in the Philippines as a place to invest dropped as did his approval ratings dropped. Foreign companies like Philips Electronics and Johnson & Johnson pulled out of the Philippines. After his ouster in 2001 he left behind a huge budget deficit and debt payments that were double what the country sent on health, education and agriculture combined. The sick man of Asia was sicker than ever.

See Corruption

Economy Under Arroyo

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was welcomed with great fanfare when she became president in 2001. The day she was sworn in, the stock market surged 30 percent and businessmen praised her skills and abilities, Arroyo launched free market and anti-corruption policies that were welcomed by both the local and international business communities. Again there was a sense of hope.

But again the sense optimism didn’t last long. Investment dried up as a result of global slowdowns and security concerns. Direct foreign investment was only $319 million in 2001 compared to $1.8 billion in 1992.

Growth was 3.4 percent in 2001, 4.3 percent in 2002 and 4.5 percent in 2003. In 2004 the economy was hurt by high oil prices. Still more growth was needed just to keep pace with 2.36 percent population growth rate. Inflation was less than 6 percent but the deficit grew at an alarming rate as the government spending increased and tax revenues fell. Raising revenues became one of the main problems. In 2003, the deficit reached $3.6 billion and debt was estimated to be over $100 billion. The government’s debt burden reached its peak in 2004 when it settled at 74 percent of GDP.

Arroyo began her second term in 2004 with promises of “austerity and simplicity” and the announcement of a reform package to fight corruption, attract foreign investment, and make the Philippines less dependent on foreign energy. She promised to create 10 million jobs by 2010 and announced that power rates would be doubled to avert an energy crisis, She also promised to provide clean water and electricity to every village in the Philippines and build 3,000 schools. The plan called for the seemingly impossible combination of increased spending, higher taxes and a balanced budget in five years.

Arroyo’s economic drive quickly lost momentum. She was unable to over come political opposition to privatizing companies like the National Power Corporation, which lost $1.8 billion in 2003. Instead an effort was made to make them efficient. By the end of her term much of her time was spent responding to charges that she rigged the 2004 elections and he was husband was involved in kickback scheme with a Chinese company involving millions of dollars.

Growth in 2003 and 2004 was around 5 percent due in art to rising demand for Philippines electronic exports. Growth occurred despite continued hikes in oil and consumer prices on top of typhoons and floods. Growth was 4.7 percent in 2005. That year exports amounted to 40 percent of GDP. Many of the export items were electronics. Two-thirds of Philippine imports are used to build exported computer parts, disks and other electronic products made by local units of companies such as Texas Instruments Inc. and Toshiba Corp.

See Debt and Deficit, Taxes, Tax Evasion

Philippines Economy Picks Up in the Mid-2000s

Arroyo was an economics professor after all and not everything that happened under her watch was a failure. In fact she had many good ideas and policy schemes but they were overshadowed by her political troubles and bogged down in Congress. In 2007, before the global economic crisis took hold, The Economist reported: Things are looking up. The economy has grown by at least 5 percent in each of the past three years, for the first time since the 1970s. In the first quarter of this year, growth was 6.9 percent, year-on-year. Soaring remittances from Filipinos overseas help. Last year they added up to $12.8 billion, equivalent to 11 percent of GDP. Exports—especially to China and most particularly of microchips—are also booming. [Source: The Economist, August 16, 2007 *-*]

“Better economic management also helps. Inflation is now 2.6 percent, down from 8.6 percent in 2004. Changes made in 2005 have increased tax revenues without hurting growth. Despite recent wobbles, the government should still come close to balancing the budget next year, compared with a deficit of over 5 percent of GDP in 2002. The country's banks, hurt badly in the 1997 Asian financial crisis, have been slow to recover, but now they are starting to lend again. Foreign direct investment is picking up from a low base. Texas Instruments recently chose the Philippines over China for a $1 billion electronics factory, while Hanjin, a South Korean shipbuilder, will spend $1.7 billion on its Philippines yard. Foreign mining firms have started to develop huge untapped mineral reserves. *-*

“The Philippines has rapidly emerged as India's main rival in business-process outsourcing (BPO) and now hosts the call-centres of many American firms. A recent study by the Asian Development Bank reckoned that BPO could provide jobs for up to 11 percent of those joining the Philippines' labour force between now and 2010. *-*

All good news, but worries remain. However welcome the growth in call-centre jobs, it is engineering and business graduates who are queueing to take them. A recent International Labour Organisation study noted that the country's average annual productivity growth between 2000 and 2005 was just 0.9 percent, compared with 10.3 percent in China and 4.9 percent in India, suggesting that “many new job entrants are underemployed”. *-*

“A chief problem, despite foreign interest, is a rate of investment that is at 20-year lows as a share of GDP. Poor infrastructure, especially roads, hampers businesses of all sorts. Gil Beltran, a senior finance-ministry official, says the government intends to increase annual infrastructure spending from 2.8 percent of GDP to 5 percent. Successive administrations have had a poor record of keeping such promises. The public finances still need a lot of fixing. Tax revenues as a share of GDP are still below pre-1997 levels, while public debt is high, at around 75 percent of GDP. The next big job, says Mr Beltran, is to simplify the mess of illogical tax breaks that cost a fortune in lost revenues. Efforts to drag big-business tax-dodgers to court have so far got nowhere. A swingeing tax rise on Jeepney owners looks like squeezing the poor to spare the rich.

Perhaps a virtuous cycle will develop. The government might boost revenues and spend them on sensible works, so encouraging business, which would boost tax revenues further. It is easier to imagine the Philippines slipping back into complacency, relaxing its efforts and letting this golden opportunity pass by. *-*

Philippines and the Global Economic Crisis in 2008 and 2009

The Philippines was affected by global economic crisis in 2008 and 2009 as was nearly everywhere. Clarissa Batino of Bloomberg wrote in December 2008: “The Philippine peso headed for its worst year since 2000 and stocks had their biggest annual loss in at least two decades on signs the global slowdown is hurting sales of the nation’s exports”. A “drop in trade flows is a bad sign that the economy will be slowing pretty rapidly,” said Simon Wong, an economist at Standard Chartered Plc in Hong Kong. “The global downturn puts pressure on Asian economies and currencies, including the peso.” [Source: Clarissa Batino, Bloomberg, December 24, 2008 |::|]

“The currency is poised for a 13.4 percent loss this year, the most since shortly before former President Joseph Estrada was ousted in a revolt. The Philippine Stock Exchange Index slumped 48 percent this year to 1,872.85, the biggest annual drop since Bloomberg started tracking the data in 1988.Overseas sales account for a third of the $144 billion economy. The Philippines imports electronics components and exports mobile-phone chips and computer parts. Gross domestic product may expand 0.7 percent next year, compared with an estimated 3.8 percent this year, Wong said, citing contractions in exports and remittances in 2009. The government expects growth of as little as 4.1 percent this year and 3.7 percent in 2009, versus last year’s three-decade high of 7.2 percent. |::|

“The World Bank expects global trade to shrink in 2009 for the first time in more than 25 years, threatening export-reliant economies in Asia. The Philippines last week cut interest rates to support growth as the global slump weakened demand for Intel Corp.’s computer chips and other electronics goods, which account for two-thirds of the nation’s overseas sales. |::|

Philippine Economy Picks Up in the 2010s Under Benigno Acquino III

The Philippines economy picks up in the 2000s under Benigno Acquino III. The Philippine economy expanded by 7.2 percent in 2013, 6.8 percent in 2012, 3.7 percent in 2011 and 7.6 percent in 2010. In 2012, gross domestic product surpassed the government’s forecast for growth of 5 percent to 6 percent. The Philippines had the second-highest growth rate in the world 2012, after China, according to Reuters. Government expenditure in the Philippines jumped nearly 12 percent in 2012, while private spending, which was bolstered by remittances from abroad, was up 6.1 percent, Reuters reported.

In 2012, Floyd Whaley wrote in the New York Times, “With $70 billion in reserves and lower interest payments on its debt after recent credit rating upgrades, the Philippines pledged $1 billion to the International Monetary Fund to help shore up the struggling economies of Europe. “This is the same rescue fund that saved the Philippines when our country was in deep financial trouble in the early ’80s,” said Representative Mel Senen Sarmiento, a congressman from Western Samar. [Source: Floyd Whaley, New York Times, August 27, 2012 /^\]

“The Philippines has certainly had a steady flow of positive economic news recently. On July 4, 2012, Standard & Poor’s raised the country’s debt rating to just below investment grade, the highest rating for the country since 2003 and equivalent to that of Indonesia. The Philippines is the 44th-largest economy in the world today, according to HSBC estimates. But if current trends hold, it can leap to the No. 16 spot by 2050. The Philippine stock market, one of the best performers in the region, closed at a record high after the recent S.& P. rating upgrade, and the country’s currency, the peso, reached a four-year high against the dollar at about the same time. /^\

“The gross domestic product of the Philippines grew 6.4 percent in the first quarter, according to the country’s central bank, outperforming all other growth rates in the region except China’s. Economists expect similarly strong growth in the second quarter. “We have made a very bold forecast for the Philippines, but I think justifiably so,” said Frederic Neumann, a senior economist at HSBC in Hong Kong. /^\

“ Trinh D. Nguyen, an economist with HSBC in Hong Kong, said the Philippines had benefited from an increase in government efficiency and revenue collection, as well as aggressive actions to address corruption, like the impeachment of the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the arrest of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on suspicion of accepting kickbacks and of misusing government lottery money. “It is not only short-term growth that draws investors to the Philippines,” Ms. Nguyen said. “The fundamentals are there.”/^\

“But there are also real weaknesses in the country. Recent flooding, which by some estimates submerged 50 percent of Manila, illustrates a shortage of modern infrastructure that makes the Philippines highly vulnerable to disasters. “The Philippines is hit with several deadly and devastating natural disasters every year,” Ms. Nguyen said. But government officials have said that the recent flooding might actually help economic growth, because reconstruction will require an increase in public spending and the country will have to put into place programs to make it more resistant to the effects of natural disasters. /^\

“Another hurdle is the fact that the Philippines has traditionally underexploited its natural resources. The government estimates that there are 21.5 billion tons of metal deposits in the country, including large deposits of nickel, iron, copper and gold. But they have never been a significant driver of economic growth because extraction has been mismanaged, Mr. Neumann said. In the shorter term, there are concerns that the country’s newfound prosperity has not sufficiently eradicated poverty. /^\

Philippines Economy Improves But Doesn’t Create So Many Jobs

Floyd Whaley wrote in the New York Times, “At his vegetable stand on a busy street in the Philippine capital, Lamberto Tagarro is surrounded by gleaming, modern skyscrapers, between which a river of luxury vehicles flows. “The Philippines is the rising tiger economy of Asia,” Mr. Tagarro said. “But only the rich people are going up and up. I’m not feeling it.” Mr. Tagarro earns the equivalent of about $5 a day working before dawn and after dark, battling petty corruption to maintain his improvised sidewalk stand and dealing with rising wholesale prices for the onions and tomatoes he sells. [Source: Floyd Whaley, New York Times, June 19, 2013 ==]

“The Philippines, with a 7.8 percent expansion of gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2013, has the fastest-growing economy in East Asia, surpassing even China’s. The country has a red-hot stock market, a strong currency and a steady stream of accolades and upgrades from international ratings agencies. But Mr. Tagarro’s experience — of being left behind by the country’s newfound prosperity — mirrors that of many Filipinos, according to the latest government poverty and employment data. ==

“An estimated seven million Filipinos, about 17 percent of the work force, have gone overseas in search of jobs, according to the Asian Development Bank. For those who stay home, options are few. Despite the rapidly expanding economy, the country’s unemployment rate increased to 7.5 percent in April, from 6.9 percent at the same time a year earlier. About three million Filipinos who want to work are unemployed. “Higher rates of economic growth over recent years have not made a serious dent in the employment problem in the Philippines,” the Asian Development Bank reported in its recent Asian Development Outlook report.” ==

In some cases the number of unemployed has risen as the economy has grown. Earlier Whaley wrote in New York Times, “The robust growth in the Philippines in 2012 has not translated into significant job growth, according to government figures. Unemployment was at 6.8 percent in October, up from 6.4 percent a year earlier, and the number of unemployed in the country rose to 2.76 million from 2.64 million.” [Source: Floyd Whaley, New York Times, January 31, 2013]

President Benigno Acquino III and the Failure to Create Jobs

Floyd Whaley wrote in the New York Times, “President Benigno S. Aquino III ran on a platform of clamping down on corruption, improving the business environment in the country and addressing widespread poverty. In his first three years in office, Mr. Aquino removed high-level government officials accused of corruption, cracked down on tax evaders and aggressively courted foreign investment. Though his efforts to improve the economy have received accolades, he has had less success in addressing the country’s persistent, widespread poverty. [Source: Floyd Whaley, New York Times, June 19, 2013 ==]

“Mr. Aquino’s political opponents argued before recent legislative elections that his actions had further enriched the wealthy and left the poor behind. The Philippines still has a strong service sector. In 2011, it overtook India as a top provider of offshore call centers. But the country lacks the manufacturing base that has lifted millions of people out of poverty in other Asian countries. In countries like China, the rural poor increased their income by finding jobs in factories. That is rarely an option in the Philippines, and few poor people from the countryside are qualified to work in a call center.” ==

In early 2013, Amando Doronila wrote in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, “The Aquino administration flooded the media with the report that the economy expanded 6.6 percent in 2012. The result however was not good enough to have any significant social impact on alleviating poverty and reducing the wide wealth chasm between the rich and the poor. Growth in the past two years of the Aquino administration has not translated into creating enough jobs for the poor that will allow them to break out of the poverty trap.[Source: Amando Doronila, Philippine Daily Inquirer, February 4, 2013 /*/]

“The President, however, acknowledged that “the gap between the powerful and the powerless” has become too huge. Too many people are being left behind and it has also become clear that inequity is borne of corruption. “The few at the top have been allowed to run roughshod over the many and have [manipulated] the system to benefit themselves, while the rest wallow in poverty,” the President said. “The greatest challenge for any modern society, then, is how to stem the corruption that has feasted on the very moral fabric of our society,” he added. /*/

“Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the “impressive” 6.5-percent growth for 2012 should be sustained for several years to allow its effects to filter down to the grassroots and benefit ordinary Filipinos. Asked about how long would it take for the broad section of the population to benefit from the growth, Balisacan was evasive. “It should be happening, but don’t expect a miracle [where poverty would be] wiped out or substantially reduced,” he said.The 6.5-percent growth figure reflected “only one year” performance of the economy. “If you note experiences of countries around us, it takes several years of sustained … or rapid growth before you can reduce poverty, say by one-half for the population,” Balisacan said. /*/

“Benjamin Diokno, a professor at the University of the Philippines’ School of Economics, agreed that 6.6 percent for 2012 was “a strong growth,” he expressed doubt that the growth rate would be sustainable. Diokno pointed out that based on the October labor statistics, the recent growth may be characterized as “labor-shedding growth. Close to 1 million jobs were lost.” Most Filipinos still depend on agriculture and related sectors for a living, he said.” /*/

Philippine Economy Grows 7.2 Percent in 2013

Beating government expectations, the Philippine economy expanded by 7.2 percent in 2013. Combined with 2012 Philippines experiences its strongest two years of growth since the 1950s. Karl Lester M. Yap and Cecilia Yap of Bloomberg wrote: “Gross domestic product rose 7.2 percent in 2013, the Philippine Statistics Authority said, after gaining 6.8 percent in the previous year. That was the fastest two-year pace since 1954-1955, data compiled by Bloomberg show. A recovery in advanced economies may help President Benigno Aquino achieve his goal of bolstering growth to as much as 8.5 percent by 2016 as he transforms the country into a manufacturing hub. Rising exports have helped counter the impact of Super Typhoon Haiyan, and the central bank said today it will act if needed to contain inflation expectations. “The Philippine economy clearly still has strong momentum despite the typhoon,” said Edward Teather, an economist at UBS AG who covers Southeast Asian markets from Singapore. “That sort of strength in the context of an acceleration in developed nations increases the risk of overheating, something policy makers should keep an eye on.” [Source: Karl Lester M. Yap and Cecilia Yap, Bloomberg, January 29, 2014]

“The Philippines won its first investment-grade scores from Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor’s last year. Aquino’s pledge to curb corruption and spur faster growth has seen foreign direct investment almost double to $2.8 billion in 2012 from 2008, World Bank data show. Consumer spending rose 5.6 percent last quarter from a year earlier, according to today’s report. Investment gained 5.7 percent, while manufacturing increased 12.3 percent. [Ibid]

Jovan Cerda wrote in philstar.com: “Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the economy grew better than the government's official target of 6 to 7 percent for 2013, but added that it could have been higher had the country not been affected by various disasters. "Indeed, growth could have been better, had we not been perturbed by various disasters that hit the country such as the Bohol earthquake, the Zamboanga siege and typhoon Yolanda," he said. [Source: Jovan Cerda, philstar.com, January 30, 2014 ||||]

“The Philippines remains as one of the best performing economies in the Asian region in the fourth quarter of 2013, second only to China, which grew by 7.7 percent, Balisacan said. On the supply side, the services and industry sectors continued to be the drivers of economic growth, expanding by 7.1 percent and 9.5 percent in 2013, respectively. "The services sector contributed 3.6 percentage points of the real GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2013. This was followed by the industry sector with 2.8 percentage points and agriculture with 0.1 percentage point. Fourth-quarter growth on the supply side was mainly propelled by manufacturing, trade, finance and real estate," Balisacan said. ||||

“Meanwhile, on the demand side, growth was boosted by household consumption, which contributed 4.2 percentage points, and net exports, which contributed 1.6 percentage points. Despite the better-than-expected growth, however, some sectors tamed overall growth for 2013, Balisacan said. "Construction had the biggest setback in the fourth quarter. The subsector contracted by 0.8 percent due to stricter rules imposed on real estate lending in compliance with prudential regulations. The Board of Investments has also tightened mass housing incentives. The rule requiring developers to allot 20 percent of their total housing investment for low-cost mass housing units is now being closely monitored and enforced." ||||

“Government spending also slowed down by 5.2 percent, dipping from the 9.5 percent growth posted in the fourth quarter of 2012. The deceleration was due to lower disbursements in personnel services and maintenance and other operating expenditures. For the full year, however, government spending jumped by 8.6 percent. Imports also slowed down by 1.9 percent during the last quarter of 2013 from the 8 percent posted in the same period in 2012. ||||

“Aside from slowdowns in certain sectors, the combined impact of typhoons and other disasters may have also reduced the full year real GDP growth by at least 0.1 percentage point, Balisacan said. Looking forward, Balisacan said the agriculture and industry sectors are expected to be vibrant this year, as the government promotes linkages between the two sectors to increase value added as a key strategy identified in the Philippine Development Plan midterm update. Major infrastructure projects, especially in the transport sector are also expected to boost growth this year and beyond....[W]e are optimistic that the Philippine economy will remain strong in 2014, especially that the outlook on the global economy is becoming more favorable and as the domestic economy remains robust," he said. ||||

Philippines Gets First-Ever Investment Grade Rating

In March 2013, the Philippines achieved its first-ever investment grade rating after international debt watcher Fitch raised the country’s rating to BBB- from BB+. Daxim L. Lucas wrote in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, “Fitch Ratings — the first of the three major international debt watchers to upgrade the Philippines — also assigned a stable outlook for the country’s credit rating. Fitch cited the country’s sovereign balance sheet as being comparable to those of ‘A’-rated nations, while a “persistent current account surplus, underpinned by remittance inflows” has made the country a “net creditor” from its previous deficit position. Fitch also noted the economy’s 6.6-percent economic growth for 2012 and the expected strong growth for 2013, both of which are “stronger and less volatile” that BBB-rated peers over the last five years. “Improvements in fiscal management begun under President Arroyo have made general government debt dynamics more resilient to shocks,” Fitch said. [Source: Daxim L. Lucas, Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 27, 2013]

In May 2013, Standard & Poor' increased the Philippines a long-term sovereign credit rating of "BBB" from "BBB-", and upgraded its short-term rating to "A-2" from "A-3". “The outlook is stable. "We raised the ratings because we now believe the ongoing reforms to address shortcomings in structural, administrative, institutional, and governance areas will endure beyond the current administration," Standard & Poor's credit analyst Agost Benard noted in an e-mailed statement to reporters. [Source: Danessa O. Rivera, GMA News, May 8, 2014 <=>]

GMA News reported: “The debt watcher also noted the upgrade "reflects the country's strong external liquidity and international investment position, combined with an effective monetary policy framework relative to the country's income level," while maintaining low inflation and interest rates. Malacañang said it was "gratified" by the latest credit rating upgrade from S&P. "And we are hopeful that this will eventually translate into increased investments, and accelerated jobs generation," Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. said. The Aquino administration is "committed to strengthen public institutions, and build increased capacity among citizens and communities, and thereby promote the attainment of inclusive growth. This is the path that leads to sustained economic development and the raising of the Filipino people’s quality of life," Coloma added. <=>

“S&P gave the Philippines an investment grade rating on May 2, 2013. It was the second upgrade from practically junk status since Fitch Ratings gave the Southeast Asian country its first ever investment grade status in March 2013. In a statement Friday, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said S&P basically validated the progress in good governance reforms under the the Aquino administration. “For one, this credit upgrade recognizes the gains brought about by the public financial management reforms we have instituted," Abad noted "We are on the right track in terms of continuously improving our public spending efficiency, primarily in ramping up investments for infrastructure projects, among other key priority and substantial programs and projects," he added. <=>

Philippine Economy in 2014

Karl Lester M. Yap and Cecilia Yap of Bloomberg wrote: “Aquino plans to increase spending to a record this year while seeking more than $8 billion of investments in highways and airports to improve infrastructure and create jobs. San Miguel Corp., Ayala Corp. (AC) and Megawide Construction Corp. are among companies building schools, power plants and roads. The government estimates reconstruction of the typhoon-affected areas will cost 361 billion pesos ($8 billion). [Source: Karl Lester M. Yap and Cecilia Yap, Bloomberg, January 29, 2014]

Disasters slowed the Philippine economic growth down to 5.7 percent in 1st quarter of 2014. Cliff Venzon of Nikkei wrote: “Philippine economic growth slowed a year-on-year to 5.7 percent in the first quarter of 2014, as natural disasters weighed on production, the government reported. This makes the Philippines the third-fastest growing economy in Asia after China (7.4 percent) and Malaysia (6.2 percent), National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a briefing. The growth, the slowest since the fourth quarter of 2011, was also below market and government expectations. Meanwhile, the January-March expansion was driven by the services and industry sectors, which climbed 6.8 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively, the Philippine Statistics Authority said. Balisacan said natural disasters that hit the country late last year -- particularly typhoon Haiyan -- pulled economic growth down. "The effects of the typhoon went beyond the Yolanda-affected areas through the supply chain," Balisacan said, using the local name for Haiyan. "That affected investment plans of companies and individuals...so private construction suffered in the first quarter," he added. [Source: Cliff Venzon, Nikkei, May 29, 2014]

In November 2013, Haiyan killed around 6,300 people in the Philippines and destroyed $2 billion worth of crops and infrastructure. In October, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the province of Bohol, also in central Philippines, causing widespread devastation. Balisacan said the effects of Haiyan are "expected to diminish" while reconstruction efforts in typhoon affected areas should also prop up the economy in the coming quarters. "We remain confident that we will meet the growth target of 6.5-7.5 percent for 2014," he said, pointing out that the Philippines is still poised to become Southeast Asia's fastest growing economy -- a position it held last year.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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